Shakti Mills gangrapes: Five held guilty; sentencing tomorrow
Over seven months after the gangrape of two women including a photojournalist in the abandoned Shakti Mills compound
Mumbai: Over seven months after the gangrape of two women including a photojournalist in the abandoned Shakti Mills compound here, five persons were today held guilty by a local court which will pronounce the quantum of punishment tomorrow.
The court convicted the five men for gangrape, criminal conspiracy, common intention, unnatural sex, criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint, assault, destruction of evidence under IPC and other relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.
A total of seven persons including two minors, were arrested in connection with the two gangrapes involving a telephone operator and a photojournalist in July-August 2013. Three of the accused are common to both the cases.
Principal sessions court judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi convicted Vijay Jadhav, 19, Mohammad Qasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali, 21 and Mohammad Ansari, 28, in both the cases. while Siraj Khan was found guilty in the photojournalist gangrape case (on August 22) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh, in the telephone operator gangrape case at the same compound on July 31 last year.
Two minors, one in each case, are being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board separately.
Putting forth arguments on the point of sentencing, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court that the maximum punishment provided for gangrape under Indian Penal Code is life imprisonment and sought the maximum punishment for the accused.
“These accused have a criminal tendency,” Nikam told the court.
Later, the case was adjourned till tomorrow for the prosecution and defense to advance arguments on the quantum of sentencing.
The government would increase the number of fast track courts to try cases of crimes against women. The victims should get justice in shortest time, the victims and their families received justice today. The Mumbai police completed investigations. Charge sheets were filed and the crime of the accused has been proved in both the cases, As compared to other states, women are much safer in Maharashtra and even if there are shortcomings, they would be rectified.
Following is the chronology of the gangrapes (of photojournalist and telephone operator) in the Shakti Mills compound in 2013.
Photojournalist gangrape case:
August 22, 2013 22-year-old photojournalist visits the desolate Shakti mills compound in Central Mumbai for an assignment accompanied by a male colleague. Five accused, who initially offered her help, later rape her inside the mill compound.
August 23 Mumbai police cracks the case by arresting a 17-year-old minor from his Central Mumbai residence. Within a week, all the other accused are arrested.
September 19 Mumbai Police files 600-page chargesheet in the case. In all, 13 charges are pressed against the five accused including that of gang-rape, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and wrongful restraint and sections under Information Technology Act.
October 11 Charges in the case framed.
October 18 The survivor (journalist) faints in court during her deposition.
March 5, 2014 Court records statement of the accused and puts forth 970 questions.
Telephone operator gang rape case:
July 31, 2013 18-year-old operator gangraped by five accused (including three men who were also charged in the photojournalist case) at the abandoned compound. The victim had visited the spot with her boyfriend.
September 3 The victim files a complaint with the police.
October 8 Mumbai police files a 362-page charge sheet against the accused.
October 30 The survivor during her deposition seeks permission from the court to beat up the accused. Her request is turned down.
Feb 22, 2014 Court records statement of accused and puts forth 496 questions.
Mar 20, 2014 Court holds five arrested (in both cases) guilty. Sentencing to be pronounced tomorrow.