July 20, 2016 1:31:20 pm
Shaken by the gruesome rape and murder of a minor in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, the government said Tuesday the state would press for death penalty for the perpetrators of the crime.
There has been tension across Maharashtra since the discovery of the 14-year-old girl’s body in Karjat’s Kopardi village on July 13. According to the police, the victim who was returning home after visiting her grandparents in the same locality, was stopped by three men on the way who raped the girl and then strangled her. According to the police, the postmortem report said her hair had been pulled out, her hands had dislocated from the shoulders and her teeth smashed.
The Vidhan Sabha witnessed noisy scenes for the second day running over the case, with the Legislative Assembly setting aside all official business for a discussion on the matter.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government would press for death penalty against the guilty. The police have so far arrested three persons — Jeetendra Shinde, Santosh Bhawal and Nitin Bhailume — all of whom have been remanded in police custody.
While the government had already announced that the case would be tried in a fast-track court, legislators were demanding that the punishment be meted out within six months to send the right message to the society. Stating that the government was not empowered to impose a timeline for court proceedings, Fadnavis assured the House that the investigators would be directed to chargesheet the accused within six days. “We will then request the fast-track court to conduct legal proceedings on a day-to-day basis without adjournments,” said the CM, adding, “We will demand capital punishment for the criminals.”
Fadnavis, who is also the home minister of the state, also announced that a team of forensic experts was collecting and appreciating all scientific evidence from the site to build a watertight case.
After NCP’s Ajit Pawar pointed out that the investigation had shown the accused were under the influence of alcohol consumed from an illicit liquor joint functioning in the village, Fadnavis also proposed enhancement of the punishment for illicit liquor operators from three years to ten.
“This would mean that such cases would now be heard in the sessions court instead of the judicial magistrate first class, and would remain non-bailable. We will bring the law during the ongoing session,” he said.
The Chief Minister added that a law would be formulated so that repeat offenders could be tried under the stringent Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities.
Terming the incident as being “horrendous and utterly shameful”, Fadnavis also announced the setting up of a committee comprising women legislators from both Houses of the legislature to recommend further measures to ensure that “such a crime never takes place again”.
But with the tension and the outrage spreading to various parts of the state, he also appealed to the public to be patient and practise restraint.
The Opposition, however, appeared dissatisfied with the CM’s statement on the issue and staged a walkout following his speech. “There was a delay in acting against the criminals. The government is shirking responsibility for the delay,” said Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. Fadnavis later accused the Opposition of “playing politics” over the incident.
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