A 14-year-old girl studying in Class IX was gangraped and tortured to death at Kopardi village in Karjat taluka of Ahmednagar district on July 13. Police said three men involved in the crime have been arrested.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced advocate Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor in the case after demonstrations seeking his appointment.
Police said the incident took place around 6.45 pm on July 13 when the girl was returning home from her grandfather’s house, around 500 metres away.
The post mortem confirmed that she had been raped. It also revealed marks of torture.
“The three persons stopped her and forced themselves on her and later murdered her. The post-mortem has revealed fractured bones and internal injuries that led to her death,” Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tripathi told The Indian Express.
The body was spotted under a tree on July 13 night after the family started looking for her when she did not return home. Her bicycle was found abandoned near a canal.
Tripathi said two of the suspects were arrested soon after the incident, while the third one was arrested from Pune Sunday morning.
Police first arrested Jitendra Shinde alias Pappu (25) from Shrigonda town in Ahmednagar while the second accused, Santosh Bhawal (36), was arrested from Karjat. The third suspect, Nitin Bhailume (26), was arrested from Pune. All three have been remanded in police custody.
Inspector Shivaji Gaware of Karjat police station said all three suspects were contractual workers working for private companies or at construction sites. They stayed at Kopardi village.
Pappu, who worked at a brick kiln, got married five years ago but separated from his wife later. He married another woman two years ago. According to locals, he was an alcoholic. Bhaimule, Pappu’s cousin, had shifted to the village from Karjat town three years ago. He stayed with his parents.
Bhawal, the oldest of the three, lived in the village with his family and earned a living by working as a farm hand.
The victim was a kabaddi player and had represented the school in the district level, said the police.
Her family stays in a hamlet about a kilometre away from the village. The family owns a two-acre farm, but had recently opened a dhaba at Durgaon village, about 5 km from Kopardi. The victim is survived by her parents, an elder brother and a younger sister.
Several social and political organisations staged protests in Karjat and Ahmednagar after the incident came to light. The organisations demanded that a fast-track court be convened for the trial in the case and accused brought to justice.
Several towns in the district, including Karjat, Shrigonda, Rahuri, Ahmedngar and Jamkhed, observed a shutdown. Protest marches demanding arrest were held in some areas. Several villages in Karjat tehsil stalled all business activities. Many groups, including Maratha Seva Sangh, Jijao Brigade and Sambhaji Brigade, Republican Party of India (Athavale), had gathered at Shivaji Chowk to demand speedy probe and trial of the accused and others who allegedly gave shelter to them.
In neighbouring Shrigonda, members of all political parties staged a protest to demand justice for the victim. The march also saw participation of school and college students from the town.
Satish Sudrik, sarpanch of Kopardi, said, “The suspects were arrested speedily and there has been no untoward incidence since then. The villagers also practised patience despite high passions.”
SP Tripathi, who visited one of the protest sites in Ahmednagar town along with District Collector Anil Kakadi on Saturday, said he would forward a proposal to state home department to appoint a Special Investigative Team to probe the crime.
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