Four jailed for life in Mahalaxmi gang-rape case

Photojournalist rape verdict on March 24

Four jailed for life in Mahalaxmi gang-rape case

A Mumbai session court on Friday sentenced four youths to life imprisonment in the gang-rape case of a 19-year-old call-centre employee in the Shakti Mills Compound in Mahalaxmi.

As per the amended Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the life sentence will continue till the natutral death of the convicts—Vijay Jadhav (18), Qasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Qasim Bengali (20), Salim Ansari (27) and Ashfaque Shaikh (26).

The quantum of sentence in the August 22 gang-rape case of a photojournalist will be announced on March 24, as the prosecution has sought enhanced punishment for the three who have been found guilty in both cases.

In the call-centre operator rape case, on the evening of July 31 last year, the victim, while taking a shortcut through Shakti Mills on her way to the Siddhivinayak Temple with her boyfriend, was waylaid and attacked by five persons, including the four accused and a minor.

She initially kept quiet about the incident, but mustered courage to report it after the 23-year-old trainee photographer’s gang-rape grabbed headlines.

On Thursday, principal sessions court judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi held Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari guilty in both the cases, besides two more.

The accused have been found guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (D) for gang-rape and other sections pertaining to wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation, conspiracy, common intent, unnatural sex and sections of the Information Technology Act, because they reportedly took photos while committing the crime.

The court also found Siraj Khan guilty in the photojournalist gang-rape case, and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh, 26, guilty in the call-centre employee gang-rape case.

Two minors—one in each case—are being tried by the Mumbai Juvenile Justice Board separately, and their case will start here next month.

The trainee journalist's gang-rape sparked off furore across the India; the crime followed the heinous Delhi gang-rape. 

The city police, fearing public backlash, nabbed the accused within three days after carrying out a nationwide hunt. The police and state prosecution for the first time also filed a 600-page-plus charge sheet against the accused within four weeks of making the arrests. 

Soon after the incident, civic authorities cleared the desolate and abandoned Shakti Mills complex of the dense undergrowth.

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