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4 get life term in Shakti Mills gang rape case

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A Mumbai sessions court on Friday awarded life sentence to four convicts for the gang rape of a telephone operator at the Shakti Mills compound in 2013. This means the accused face imprisonment till the end of their natural lives.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor has sought death penalty for three of the accused who are also convicted for the gang rape of a photojournalist at the same location.

While arguing on the quantum of sentence in the photojournalist’s case, the prosecution moved an application to invoke an additional charge under Section 376(E) of the Indian Penal Code for enhancement of punishment against the three common accused. Under this Section, a repeat offender can be sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of the natural life or death.

“These accused have a criminal tendency and should be awarded strictest of punishment, which will serve as a deterrent,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court.

The defence has sought time to present their case. The quantum of sentence in the photojournalist’s case will be pronounced on March 24.

On August 22, 2013, the photojournalist had gone to Shakti Mills with a male colleague on an assignment. The accused initially offered to help them but later accused them of trespassing on railway property. They then tied up the male colleague and gang-raped the young woman. They claimed they had taken photographs of the victim and would make them public if she complained.

Two weeks after the incident, the telephone operator came forward and registered a case against four men for gang raping her in July 2013. Three of the men were common to the photojournalist’s rape. The telephone operator had gone there with her boyfriend, who was also tied up when she was violated.

The four convicts who were awarded the life term include Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Sheikh alias Bengali, Salim Ansari and Mohammad Ashfak Shaikh.

On Thursday, the sessions court convicted them on 13 counts, including gang rape, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy of the IPC and certain Sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, who was present in the court on Thursday said, “The judgment was delivered in record time. Mumbai prides itself in being a safe city for women. This verdict will be a deterrent.”

The fifth accused, a minor in the telephone operator gang rape case, is being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. Speaking after the verdict on Thursday, then Crime Branch chief Himanshu Roy, who led the investigation said, “My personal view is that the age for trying a juvenile who commits a crime like this should be reduced to 16 years.”

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Four sentenced to life in prison for gang-raping telephone operator at Shakti Mills

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