The Mumbai Sessions court on Friday sentenced Chandraban Sanap (29) to death for raping and murdering a 23 year old Hyderabad techie, Esther Anuhya, on January 5, 2014 at Kanjurmarg.
Also Read: Sanap convicted for rape, murder of techie
Esther Anuhya and Chandrabhan Sanap
"The case falls under the category of the rarest of rare, hence the accused is awarded death sentence...he must be hanged by his neck till he is dead," said Special Women's court judge Vrushali Joshi pronouncing the verdict.
Sanap was convicted under IPC Section 302 (murder), Section 376 (rape) and Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) for raping and killing the techie, after the court agreed with the prosecution, which had examined 39 witnesses in the case.
The prosecution demanded death for Sanap, saying that sympathy to him would send a wrong signal and neither the victim's parents nor society would feel that justice has been delivered.
Reacting to the verdict, Anuhya’s uncle Arun Kumar justified the death sentence to Sanap. Kumar also spoke to Esther's father and everyone at her home and stated that the family is happy with the court's decision.
SJS Prasad, Esther's father said, "I am happy with the verdict and even the family is very happy about death sentence. I want to thank the judiciary, police, media and the people of Mumbai."
On Tuesday, the judge convicted Sanap for raping and murdering Esther. Special public prosecutor Raja Thakare, who examined 39 witnesses, then sought for death penalty for the convict.
It was on January 5, 2014 that Sanap met Esther at LTT, after she alighted from the train at around 5 am that brought her back to Mumbai after her Christmas break in Hyderabad. Sanap offered to drop her to her hostel in Andheri. They negotiated and decided that she would pay him Rs 300 for the ride. Footage of the negotiations has been caught on the CCTV cameras installed on LTT premises.
When Esther emerged from LTT, she realised that Sanap did not have a taxi or an auto, but a bike. She refused to sit on the bike. The accused told her to take down his mobile phone number and even give his bike’s plate number to his relatives. But since she did not have any call balance left on her phone, Esther did not make an actual call, but only pretended to call her family members and pass on the details. So an actual call never happened.
While they crossed Sahkar Talkies and reached the Eastern Express Highway near Kanjurmarg, Sanap stopped the bike on the pretext of having run out of petrol, and parked the vehicle on the service road.
It was foggy at around 5.40 am, and Sanap dragged Esther to the bushes nearby. He tried to rape her, but she defended herself fiercely. In the struggle that ensued, he knocked her head several times on the stones nearby, and then strangled her with a dupatta.
He fled the scene after grabbing her bag and a strolley which contained her laptop and other belongings. Sanap was arrested from Nashik on March 3 and charged with the crime.
Meanwhile, unable to communicate with Esther, her anxious father, Jonathan Prasad lodged a missing person complaint with Vijayawada Railway Police before coming to Mumbai and lodging another complaint with the Kurla Railway Police.
Mumbai Police recovered a charred and decomposed body in Kanjurmarg on January 16. Esther's identity was established on the basis of a ring she was wearing.
Later, Sanap was arrested and the Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare examined 39 witnesses, including two who said they had seen the accused and the victim together. This clinched the case against Sanap.
Mumbai Police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni said on Friday that the prosecution successfully secured the conviction under all sections of the law under which the accused was tried.
Esther's father: He deserves it
After the sentencing, S J S Prasad, Esther’s father, who wanted the death penalty for the convict, said that he was satisfied with the decision. Speaking to mid-day over the phone, he said, “I am satisfied with the judgment given by the court because the convict deserves it. Not just me and the members of my family, but the city will see that it is the right decision given by the court and we are very happy.”
When asked about the situation at home after Esther had passed away, the father said, “As she completed her education in university, she moved to Kerala and from there she moved to Mumbai for work. But we would chat every day. After she has gone, we miss her and her absence is felt every moment. Her thoughts still haunt us. It is very difficult to survive without her.”
On the reactions of Esther’s mother and sister on the sentence, her father said, “Her mother says okay… Esther is not here but she is with God and she has become an angel so do not worry about her. She has faith that Esther is there in heaven.”
After the sentencing, Sanap told the media that he was innocent and had been falsely implicated in the case. “I am really shocked with the judgment. I don’t know what to do with my life after this conviction. This is something very surprising as I didn’t expect that the judge would sentence me to death,” he said.
Chandrabhan Sanap being escorted out of the Sessions Court after he was awarded the death sentence. PIC/PTI
Speaking about his family, Sanap said that it has been a long time since he last saw his mother, or his daughter, who stays at Nashik with his wife. “I haven’t seen my daughter since my arrest. I have been punished for something that I haven’t even done. Today, apart from my cousin brother, none of my family members are here. I have told my brother today to tell my family not to visit me while I am in jail.”
Sanap’s sister Sunita said. “After knowing that Sanap was convicted on Tuesday, Jijabai (his mother) was in shock, so she was sent back to her village. We are worried about Sanap’s 11-year-old daughter.”