Six years after a Jesus and Mary College student was gangraped in broad daylight at Buddha Jayanti Park near Rashtrapati Bhawan, a court has sentenced to life two suspended members of the President’s Bodyguard (PBG).
Additional sessions judge SK Sarvaria sentenced Harpreet Singh and Satiender Singh after holding them guilty on August 17 of gangrape and abduction.
Two other PBG members who helped the duo in the act — Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar — have been sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. They were convicted of abduction and robbery.
The court expressed shock over Harpreet and Satiender committing such an offence while posted at such a sensitive place. Noting that they were performing the duty of the security of the President of India at the relevant time, the judge said “their offence calls for exemplary and deterrent punishment to be imposed against them”.
Dismissing the leniency pleas of all the accused, the court said: “The convicts were posted as President’s Bodyguard and were supposed to be disciplined.”
The incident dates back to October 6, 2003, when the 17-year-old victim went to the park on the fringes of Rashtrapati Bhawan to spend time with her boyfriend. The four men roughed up her boyfriend and dragged the girl to a secluded place where Harpreet and Satiender took turns to rape her while the other two kept a watch.
All four present in the court held their heads down while the judge pronounced the judgement. The family of Harpreet and Satiender refused to comment on the judgement and said they would appeal further.
The conduct of these men had caused a lot of embarrassment to Rashtrapati Bhawan with then President A.P.J Abdul Kalam losing his cool.
PM Nair, his then secretary, recalled in his memoir The Kalam Effect: “Kalam, normally so composed, was more angry than I had ever seen him…” Nair wrote.