Shakti Mills gang-rapes: 3 convicts sentenced to death
MUMBAI: Three men found guilty of gang-raping two women in the abandoned Shakti Mills in Mumbai last year have been sentenced to death by a court. Yesterday, the men were convicted under a new legal provision that punishes repeat offenders with a life term or death sentence.
Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Salim Ansari are the first to be sentenced to death under Section 376 E for repeat offenders, which was brought in force along with major changes in the law after the fatal gang-rape of a young student in Delhi in December, 2012.A fourth convict, Siraj, has been sentenced to life in jail.
“Any leniency in this case would be a travesty of justice. Life term would be inadequate sentence, which harms the society. We have to do justice to the victim and society,” said a sessions court in Mumbai.
The three men were the common factor in the gang-rapes of a photojournalist and a telephone operator in the deserted mill in the heart of Mumbai, which ruptured the city’s image as one of India’s safest.They were described as unemployed school dropouts, known for petty thefts and generally drinking and spending time at Shakti Mills. The prosecution told the court that when they spotted the photojournalist and her colleague on August 22, they called two of their friends saying, “Come. We have to do shikar (hunt).”
The 23-year-old photographer was on assignment at the mill when five men tied up her colleague and took turns to assault her, holding a broken bottle to her head. The attackers were found guilty of offences that included showing pornography to her and forcing her to perform similar acts, stripping her, and destroying evidence.The phone operator came forward after reading about the photographer’s ordeal. She was raped nearly a month before, on July 31, by the same men.
Prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam told the court that the men repeatedly gang-raped the women, laughed at them and boasted about committing several rapes but never getting caught.”This shows that they were not afraid of the law,” he said.