ArrayKolkata, Jan 30 (IANS) Three people convicted for the brutal gang rape and murder of a college student in West Bengal’s Kamduni village were on Saturday sentenced to death by a court here while three other convicts got life imprisonment.
While the death sentence is subject to confirmation by the Calcutta High Court, the defence counsel said all the six convicts will be moving the high court against the verdict.
The six were convicted on Thursday for gang-raping and murdering the 20-year-old girl while she was returning home from college in Kamduni village of North 24 Parganas district on June 7, 2013.
Observing that the case fell within the ‘rarest of rare’ cases, Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanchita Sarkar pronounced capital punishment for Saiful Ali, Ansar Ali and Amin Ali, who were convicted of gang rape and murder.
Sheikh Emanul Islam, Aminur Islam and Bhola Naskar, who were convicted on charges of gang rape, criminal conspiracy and causing disappearance of evidence, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
As soon as news of the three getting death spread, the family of the victim as well as Kamduni villagers broke into tears hailing the verdict.
While nine people were arrested and charged for the crime, the court on Thursday acquitted Rafiqul Islam and Nur Ali while the ninth accused Gopal Naskar died while the trial was on.
Even as he cried in joy, the victim’s brother said he will be meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking reversal of the acquittal of the two accused.
“We are very happy with the verdict but the happiness would have been greater if all the convicts had been awarded death penalty. We are also mulling meeting the chief minster over acquittal of the two accused,” he said
During the hearing for the quantum of punishment, the defence counsel contended that the case did not fall under the rarest of rare case and as such did not warrant death penalty.
He cited several Supreme Court judgments arguing that convicts have not been awarded death penalty even in cases that were more heinous than the instant case.
Pointing to the severe injuries inflicted on the victim’s private parts, the prosecution pleaded for the death penalty, asserting that the convicts even after being convicted did not show repentance.
Rejecting the defence counsel’s arguments, the judge called out the names of each of the convicts as she pronounced the sentence.
Refusing to comment on the verdict, the defence counsel said: “We will be moving the high court appealing against the verdict against all the six next week.”
The residents of Kamduni, led by Tumpa Koyal and Moushumi Koyal who had formed a forum seeking death penalty for all the accused, hailed the verdict saying their fight for justice has been vindicated.
Alleging police slackness in the case, the forum members had knocked on the doors of top political and constitutional authorities including the president, demanding that the trial be expedited.
Street protests singed Kolkata and other parts of the state in the days and months after the Kamduni incident.
Political parties too welcomed the verdict.
“Delayed, incomplete but justice nevertheless… Battle must continue in Kamduni and everywhere,” said leader of Opposition and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.
The state’s ruling Trinamool Congress hailed the judicial system and said the punishment of the perpetrators was a “big achievement” for the administration.
However rights group Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) strongly condemned the pronouncement of capital punishment in the case.
“The continued use of death penalty is regressive step. This reverse journey of the Indian judiciary is not only against the international standards but against the human rights ethos and practices,” said MASUM secretary Kirity Roy.