The sentences were delivered yesterday for the July 31 gang rape of the phone operator at Shakti Mills compound
The trial judge yesterday sentenced four convicts to life imprisonment for gang-raping a 19-year-old telephone operator last July in the desolate Shakti Mills Compound. A minor also accused in the case is yet to be tried in the case and stands to get punishment for a minimum three years.
The sentence for the convicts in the case of the gang rape of the 23-year-old photojournalist will be decided on March 24. Three of the convicts who were given life sentences yesterday have been convicted in the photojournalist’s rape case as well.
The principal sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi delivered the punishment to convicts Ashfaq Shaikh, Qasim Bangali alias Qasim Shaikh, Mohammad Salim Ansari and Vijay Jadhav. While declaring the sentence, she said that those who had committed such heinous crimes couldn’t be let off easily.
Their lawyers had pleaded that the court consider their impoverished backgrounds and the lack of education and influence in their formative years. The judge spoke to each of the convicts individually. In tears, Ashfaq pleaded for mercy, citing his responsibility towards his wife and two kids.
Jadhav told the judge that he had been trapped by the police, denying any involvement. A weeping Qasim and Ansari both told the judge that they were the only earning members of their respective families, and had young sisters to look after.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said, “July 31, 2013, was the most hateful day in the life of the 19-year-old victim, a telephone operator, who was assaulted and raped by young men. All she had done was to take the mills as a short cut to the station with her then boyfriend.”
Death for repeat offenders?
Nikam sought invocation of an additional charge against three of the convicts who were common to both the cases. The charge of section 376 E of Indian Penal Code (IPC), which he sought to add, is to mark them as repeat offenders in a rape case. The section provides for death sentence as maximum punishment for such repeat offenders in rape and gang-rape cases. The court adjourned the matter to March 24.