Mumbai: A young woman who moved to Mumbai to work as a nurse in the navy was murdered by an acid attack inflicted by her jealous neighbour, a court has ruled today.
- Preeti Rathi moved from Delhi to Mumbai to join navy as nurse
- She was attacked with acid at train station, died a month later
- Neighbour from Delhi killed her, was jealous of her success: court
Preeti Rathi, 23, who was from Delhi, was to begin work at a naval hospital in Mumbai in 2013. She had just reached the city after an overnight train journey with her father when a man tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned around, he flung acid at her and disappeared.
Ankur Panwar was arrested nearly a year later. His family lived next door to Ms Rathi's in Delhi. The police said he was jealous of her success and frustrated by his family goading him about being unemployed while lauding Ms Rathi as a success. So he allegedly took the same train to Mumbai that the Rathis were on, attacked the young woman, and then boarded another train departing Mumbai.
He will be sentenced tomorrow.
"Preeti had told her friend in hospital that Ankur used to harass her in Delhi and even tried to propose marriage to her. When she refused his advances, that's when he decided to teach her a lesson," said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. "I will ask for the maximum sentence, that's the death penalty."
Ms Rathi was in critical condition in hospital for nearly a month before she died of her injuries from the acid attack. Parts of her throat had been burnt. Her lungs were severely damaged.
The police said Mr Panwar wanted to "deface Preeti so she would never get a job again."
Amar Singh Rathi, who travelled to Mumbai for the verdict in his daughter's case, told NDTV, "I want him to suffer till the end just like my daughter did. If he is given a lighter sentence, it will not send the right message."
India has one of the highest rates of acid violence in the world. Of 1,500 recorded acid attacks each year across the world, more than 1,000 cases estimated to occur in India alone.
India made acid attacks a specific criminal offence in 2013. Acid remains easily available despite a 2013 Supreme Court order to curb sales.