Three convicts were sentenced to death by a special court today in Maharashtra's Kopardi rape and murder case. Observing the barbarity involved in the murder, this case has been compared by many to the 2012 Delhi gang-rape. The gruesome Kopardi rape and murder triggered massive outrage and protests across Maharashtra. The three culprits in the case - Jitendra Babulal Shinde, 26, Santosh Gorakh Bhawal, 30, and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume, 28 - were held guilty of rape, murder and conspiracy last week and were today punished to be hanged till death. Here's the background of the case:
In July last year, a 15-year-old girl in Maharashtra's Kopardi was murdered after gang-rape by three men. She was so brutally tortured that her hair had been pulled out, her limbs and teeth had been broken and there were bite marks on her body.
Since the victim, a Class 9 student, belonged to the Maratha community, silent marches were taken up by the Marathas across the state against the three culprits who belonged to the Dalit community. Through these marches, they demanded a quick investigation and a speedy trial in the case.
The case had also rocked the Maharashtra Assembly during the Monsoon Session. Following this, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the accused have been arrested and the matter will be heard in a fast-track court.
Following the state-wide protests, the Maharashtra government also appointed noted criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who has appeared in several high-profile cases including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, as the special public prosecutor in the case.
On October 7 last year, the Ahmednagar Police filed the charge sheet running into over 350 pages before the court in which the three men were charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
On the day of the incident, the accused were moving on their motorcycles and keeping a watch on the girl's movements, Mr Nikam had said.
The three convicts were also given life imprisonment for charges pertaining to rape and criminal conspiracy and they were also fined Rs 20,000 each. The convicts were also given three years' rigorous imprisonment under the charges of molestation.
All these sentences will run concurrently, said Mr Nikam.
(With Inputs From PTI)