Two years, seven months and 20 days after the gangrape and murder of a 20-year-old student, a Kolkata court Thursday found six of the eight accused guilty of gangraping and murdering the woman at Kamduni village in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. Two accused were let off due to lack of evidence. The quantum of punishment is likely to be announced Friday.
The verdict in the case, in which nine men, including one who died during the trial, were chargesheeted, was pronounced by Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanchita Sarkar at 2 pm.
Three convicts — Saiful Ali, Ansar Ali and Amin Ali — could face death penalty as they were charged under sections 302 (murder), 376A (rape), 376D (gangrape), 120B (criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) under the IPC.
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However, charged under sections 376D, 120B and 201 of the IPC, Emanul Islam, Bhola Naskar and Aminur Islam face a minimum imprisonment for 20 years and a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Rafiqul Islam Gazi and Noor Ali were acquitted for want of evidence, while Gopal Naskar had died in jail.
As the judge read out the verdict, Amin broke down and, later, fell unconscious.
Meanwhile, the court campus witnessed high-drama as four Left-backed women rights outfits demonstrated to demand death penalty for all the accused.
“There has already been a delay in serving justice in spite of the Chief Minister assuring that offenders would be brought to book in one month and now these people have been acquitted. We are definitely not satisfied,” said social activist Ramala Chakraborty.
The convenor of ‘Aakraanta Aamaraa’, another organisation that participated in the protest blamed the state and the police for the acquittals.
“The police, administration and government lawyers don’t take proper steps against these incidents leading to the acquittal or minimal punishment of offenders. This is probably what has happened in this case as well,” said Ambikesh Mahapatra, who teaches at Jadavpur University.
Not happy with the judgment, public prosecutor Aninda Rout added, “We have not yet got the copy of the order. We will have to see why the two accused had been acquitted.”
The defence, meanwhile, vowed to take the fight to a higher court. Defence lawyer Phiroze Edulji confirmed that the accused will soon challenge the verdict in the high court.
“My brother has been definitely framed. I don’t know if it is a political conspiracy or some other kind of vendetta, but he had nothing to do with the murder. We are considering moving the High Court,” said Arshad Ali, brother of Ansar.