A local sessions court on Monday convicted security guard Sajjad Mughal alias Sajjad Pathan of murdering 25-year-old lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha in her Wadala flat, two years ago.
The court will hear the arguments on the quantum of the punishment on July 3.
When judge Vrushali Joshi pronounced Sajjad (22) guilty of murder, molestation and criminal trespass, he nodded stoically. The charges could attract a maximum punishment of death.
According to police, Pallavi’s fiance Avik Sengupta, who shared the flat with her, found her in a pool of blood when he reached house on the night of August 9, 2012. Pallavi was stabbed several times on her face, neck and abdomen. In less than 24 hours, police nabbed Sajjad from Mumbai Central railway terminus before he could flee to Jammu and Kashmir, his native place.
In his confessional statement to police, Sajjad had said that he had sneaked into Pallavi’s 16th floor flat in ‘Himalayan Heights’ building, using a set of duplicate keys.”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,” Sajjad had said in the statement. Police said Sajjad had deliberately cut off power supply to Pallavi’s flat sometime before the murder, following which she had to call electricians to get it restored, giving Mughal the opportunity to enter her house.
Hours after killing her, Sajjad had called up two of his friends and allegedly boasted about the incident. The statements of his two friends are part of the chargesheet filed by police.
Over a year after the incident, Avik died of an inflammatory brain disorder. In his deposition, he had reiterated that Sajjad was a pervert and had made Pallavi uncomfortable several times in the past.
During the trial, Sajjad’s lawyer had argued that Avik had killed Pallavi in their flat. The defence had argued that Avik’s whereabouts on the night of the murder had not been probed sufficiently, and that Sajjad was being made a scapegoat. The court, however, was not convinced.
Speaking to reporters outside the court after the conviction, Pallavi’s family demanded death for Sajjad.
Referring to the death of Avik, Pallavi’s father Atanu Purkayastha, an IAS officer, 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.” Pallavi worked as a legal advisor with actor-director Farhan Akhtar’s firm Excel Entertainment Private Limited.