Updated: February 18, 2015 8:19:07 pm
After 24 years of investigation and trial, a Bhavnagar court finally convicted five men for the sensational gangrape of a woman of Dadva village in Umrala taluka of Bhavnagar district and sentenced them to jail terms of upto 10 years on Wednesday.
Delivering its verdict in the case, the court of additional sessions judge MG Raolji pronounced five of the eight accused guilty. Pravinsinh Gohil, Dineshgiri Goswami, Hakubha Gohil, Mahavirsinh Bharatsinh and Mangabhai Champakbhai were convicted by the court for kidnapping and gang-raping the woman on July 6, 1991 in Dadva village. The remaining three accused, Dhandev Satubha, Raju Dayashankar Bhatt and Bhathiyo Vaghari had died during the pendency of trial.
The court found Pravinsinh, Dineshgiri and Hakubha guilty of gang-rape and kidnapping and sentenced them to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each on the trio. On the other hand, the judge convicted Mahavirsinh and Mangabhai for wrongful confinement and house trespass and awarded them imprisonment for two years and three months.
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“This is victory after a long battle against all sorts of odds. The court has spared no one and has reinforced the faith that guilty will be punished,” Jitu Upadhyay, advocate of the victim told The Indian Express.
District public prosecutor (DPP) of Bhavnagar, Girish Dave said the court relied on testimony of the victim, then MP of Bhavnagar, Parasaran Mehta and social worker Dr Kanta Maru to fix the accused. The case had hit headlines after senior advocate Girish Patel filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court alleging police were not registering complaint as per the statement given by the victim. Subsequently, the HC had ordered a judicial court in Bhavnagar to file a case in the matter.
“Pravinsinh and Dineshgiri dragged the victim out of her residence when she was alone. They kidnapped her on a motorcycle and took her to bushes near the village. There, the duo and Hakubha took turns to rape her. Later on, the trio and other accused gheraoed the residence of the victim and did not allow her or her family members to go out for five days to register a complaint,” Dave said.
When the victim finally managed to reach Umrala police station, local policemen refused to register her complaint. The husband of the victim met then MP and the social worker and with their help, met the then district superintendent of police of Bhavnagar. The SP ordered Umrala police to file an FIR. But Umrala police tried to tutor the victim, Dave said. After reading media reports, advocate Patel petitioned the High Court which passed order in February 1992 for a case to be registered in the judicial court of Bhavnagar.
Reeling under pressure from the media and the public, the state government appointed Niranjan Daftari, a Rajkot-based senior advocate who is expert in criminal matters, as the special public prosecutor for the case.
“During trial of the case, we sought that nine policemen and officers who refused to take the victim’s complaint should also be tried. That matter also reached the HC, leading to the delay in the verdict,” Dave, who had been pleading the case for the last seven years, said.
Upadhyay said that separate case against the nine policemen was being tried in a judicial court of Bhavnagar.
Despite facing savagery at the hands of the eight, the victim had refused to be cowed down. Around five years after the atrocity, she became sarpanch of Dadva village panchayat. Her ordeal and fight for justice became subject of the award-winning documentary film Shame is not Mine.
The district prosecutor said that the court also awarded the victim compensation worth Rs 60,000. However, Mahavirsin and Mangabhai were granted bail by the court immediately after the guilty-verdict as their sentence was less than three years. However, the the rest three, who had remained out on bail during the trial, were taken into custody.
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