Families of five women murdered in Pune wonder when they'll get justice

After the murder of a 24-year-old Infosys techie at her Hinjewadi office on January 29, mid-day spoke to families of other young women killed similarly in Pune, who say safety is still one of the biggest hurdles in women’s empowerment

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Pune: While the nation takes baby steps towards women's empowerment, drawing more women into the workforce, instances like the murder of the 24-year-old techie at Pune's Infosys on January 29 sets the effort back by years.

And, as companies continue to grapple with the issue of safety of women at the workplace, families, too, struggle with the decision to let daughters and wives have careers that take them away from home or that have night shifts.

Antara's father Devanand
Antara's father Devanand

With five murders in 10 years mid-day reached out to the families of the women, but they, too, seem to be left with only questions even years later. They all point to one thing — the need to improve security for women at the workplace.

The letter he wrote to the police and the chief minister
The letter he wrote to the police and the chief minister

Rasila Raju, Infosys, Jan 29
'Serious security lapse'
Bhaben Saikia, the security guard; Rasila Raju
Rasila Raju OP was murdered at the Infosys Hinjewadi office last Sunday allegedly by the security guard Bhaben Saikia (27). Rasila's father, Raju, who is retired army officer, is seething over his daughter's senseless death. Raju said, "My daughter was a sensible and ambitious girl. I am sure there are more than one people involved in her murder. Saikia cannot have acted alone. There are so many questions surrounding her death and the company has no answers. This is a serious security lapse on the part of the company and has cost my daughter her life." Infosys, in a statement on Saturday, said it was focused and committed to the safety of its employees. It said the company had overhauled its safety guidelines with immediate effect, making them extremely strict.

Antara Devanand Das, 2016, Dehu Road
'Where's the killer?'
Antara Das's father, Devanand, her twin, Sanchari, and her maternal uncle who arrived in Pune from Kolkata on Saturday
Antara Devanand Das, (23), a software engineer working with Capgemini was found stabbed to death on December 23, 500 metres from her office at Dehu Road. An eyewitness, Satyendra Singh, rushed her to hospital but she was declared dead. The police arrested Santoshkumar Akhileshprasad Gupta (24), who works with a software firm in Bangalore. However, Santosh was at work when the incident occurred. Rajkumar Shinde, additional superintendent of police, said, "We are investigating the case." Antara's father, Devanand (61), who arrived in Pune on Saturday, said, "I am shocked that another girl has been targeted. At least in Rasila's case, the police have arrested the culprit, but where is my daughter's killer? I am still waiting for justice."

Darshana Tongare, 2010
Killer not caught yet
Software engineer Darshana Tongare (21), a trainee with IBM, was murdered by an unidentified person on July 30, 2010, while she was walking home in from Bavdhan. She was dropped off near her residence by her boyfriend in an auto but never reached home. She was stabbed in the chest with a sharp weapon. Darshana's brother Ketan Devidas Tongare had filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court and the case was later moved to the CID. The case is still unsolved despite the police having collected around 170 statements from suspects and her friends as well as conducting brain-mapping and other tests on a few. CID officials refuse to comment on the issue.

28-yr-old techie, 2009
'Still waiting for justice'
A 28-year-old software engineer with a firm at Hinjewadi, was gang raped and murdered in October 2009. She was abducted by cab driver Yogesh Ashoke Raut (24), who was hired to ferry staff, a security guard at the company, Raju alias Rajesh Pandurag Choudhury (26), and their accomplices, Mahesh Balasaheb Thakur (24) and Vishwas Kadam, who is absconding. Eight years later, her husband, Abhijeet, is still finding it hard to come to terms with her death. He is angry about the state of women's safety. "I am shocked that such incidents continue to take place. Along with punishing the accused, companies, too, should be penalised heavily for security lapses." He said, "Eight years later, I am still waiting for justice for my wife. We had married and a long and hard struggle. I was devastated by her death. Despite the special court for women being constituted, the accused are yet to be punished. The case has been so badly handled with the main accused escaping from jail."

22-year-old techie, 2007
'Security not enough'
A 22-year-old employee with a software firm in Hinjewadi, was raped and murdered by Purushottam Borate (26), the cab driver hired to ferry company staff, and his accomplice, Pradeep Kokade (20) on November 1, 2007. The high court upheld their death sentence in 2012. The woman was the youngest daughter of an Air Force officer. She was picked up by Borate from her residence, driven to a remote spot where she was raped and murdered. She was strangled with a dupatta and her veins cut. Her brother-in-law said, "Despite so much progress being made by women in all walks of life, they continue to be vulnerable while travelling or at their workplace. It is not enough to be career oriented or focused on making a name for yourself in your profession. Until companies make better provisions for their safety, women will continue to be victims."

Guidelines for Pune firms
On Tuesday, Joint Commissioner (Law and Order) Sunil Ramanand issued a set of nine guidelines. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Ganesh Shinde said, "We have circulated the guidelines to all firms. We will also conduct awareness programmes with IT companies."

'Security, prime concern'
Hinjewadi Industries Association (HIA), president, Anil Pathwardhan said, "This is unfortunate and shocking. Considering the rising cases of crimes against women, we have started focusing on security outside campus by engaging a task force and a joint operation with the city police."

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