The founder of an orphanage near Mumbai was today sentenced to death by a local court, which held him guilty for the death of a differently abled teenage girl and sexual abuse of five other inmates. Five employees of the institution were handed tough jail terms.
Ramchandra Karanjule, who runs the orphanage in Panvel, was given death penalty. He had been charged with murder as one of the girls at the orphanage died after she was gang-raped.
Prakash Khadke, a teacher at the orphanage, and Khandu Kasbe, who runs a similar home in Shirdi, were sentenced to life imprisonment. The court slapped 10-year jail terms on Sonali Badade, superintendent of the orphanage, and Parvati Mavle, the caretaker. Another accused, Nanabhau Karanjule, was convicted for molestation and will serve two years in prison.
The horrific saga of sexual and physical abuse of the girls, aged 14 to 18, came to light in 2011 during an inspection of 25 homes for differently abled children under the instructions of the Bombay High Court. The police made arrests in March 2011. A medical report revealed the girls had been repeatedly raped.
The court convicted the six people yesterday. Of the three girls who testified, two are deaf and mute and identified Ramchandra Karanjule, who is 54, using hand signs.
The judge today had strong words for Ramchandra Karanjule, saying: "The only objective behind running the orphanage was to satisfy lust and earn money. Ramchandra Karanjule not only exploited the girls for years but also allowed his friends to exploit the girls. He is a menace to the society and life imprisonment will be highly inadequate in this case."
"Every day crimes against women are being committed. It is increasing day by day. The law changes as per the needs of the society. It is the need of the hour to create deterrent effect by imposing the highest punishment, otherwise the judicial conscience will be taken for granted," the judge said.