Mumbai: A local court today convicted security guard Sajjad Ahmed Mughal in connection with the murder of 25-year-old city-based lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha in her flat at suburban Wadala here in 2012.
The Himalayan Heights building in Wadala. (Inset) Pallavi Purkayastha
22-year-old Mughal, who was employed as a watchman at the 'Himalayan Heights' building was found guilty of murder, molestation and criminal trespass.
Convicting Mughal, Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi said, "A case of murder, molestation and criminal trespass has been proved against you" following which the accused silently nodded. Meanwhile, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam requested the court that a future date may be given to hear the arguments as well as quantum of sentence after which the Judge adjourned the hearing in the case till July 3.
The accused killed Pallavi on August 9, 2012 when she resisted his advances. Prosecution has examined 40 witnesses while the defence examined three in the case.
The Crime Branch had filed a 434-page charge sheet on October 30, 2012 against Mughal charging him with trespass and murder. Earlier, the prosecution had submitted a draft charge against Mughal, accused of murdering the law graduate, who was also an advisor to filmmaker Farhan Akhtar's firm Excel Entertainment, accusing him of attempting to rape.
However, Mughal refuted all the allegations and his lawyer Wahab Khan had argued that it was Pallavi's fianc Avik Sengupta who killed her in their flat. Police had claimed that Mughal, a native of Jammu and Kashmir, used to ogle at the young lawyer, the daughter of IAS officer Atanu Purkayastha, who was the joint secretary in the Agriculture Ministry at the Centre when the incident took place.
In his statement to police, Mughal had said that he sneaked into Pallavi's flat on August 9 using a set of duplicate keys and tried to force himself upon her. "However, when I forced myself upon her, she resisted and started screaming and at this time I assaulted her with my knife that I was carrying," Mughal had said in his statement.
Speaking to reporters outside the court after the conviction, Pallavi's family demanded death for Mughal. The victim's father Atanu said, "Two families have been devastated. Death and nothing less than death (should be given). A positive message will go in the society if death is given."
Seconding the demand for death penalty, Pallavi's mother Sumita, Director General with the Ministry of Telecommunication, said, "For two years, my and Avik's family have gone through a lot of trauma. I have lost my daughter and would be son-in law."