A court in Mumbai on Friday sentenced Chandrabhan Sanap to death for the 2014 rape and murder of techie Esther Anuhya, describing it as a rarest of rare case that deserved capital punishment.
Anuhya, 23, was murdered by Sanap shortly after she arrived in Mumbai from Vishakapatnam on January 5 last year. Sanap offered her a lift on his two-wheeler at Lokmanya Tilak railway terminus and then murdered her at Kanjurmarg and stole her luggage, including a laptop.
The techie’s burnt and decomposed body was found on January 17 at Kanjurmarg by tracing the location of her mobile phone. Her dual-SIM phone was found near the body.
The prosecution told the sessions court which tried Sanap that the killing was a “crime against society” and sought the capital punishment. Special public prosecutor Raja Thakare said there is a need for strict punishment in such cases to create a society where women are not insecure.
“Violent crimes against women have increased, which is not a good sign. Women work in night shifts. If it leads to insecurity, it is not a good for society or even the law. Such offences deserve the death penalty,” Thakare said.
“A working professional comes to Mumbai for work and gets killed. There are no words to console the family. One can’t imagine what the family must have gone through. What would any father feel on seeing his daughter’s decomposed body and identifying it with the help of her belongings? The accused deserves no mercy or sympathy,” he said.
Sanap’s counsel Prakash Salsingikar told the court the case did not fall in the rarest of rare category. He contended there is a possibility that Sanap could be reformed, and the theory of deterrent punishment cannot be invoked against him.
“The accused always wanted to reform. He felt guilty after he committed the crime. It was his guilt which dragged him to a priest to perform a puja to wash away his sins. This proves he wanted to reform,” Salsingikar said.
Evidence collected before Sanap’s arrest
Footage from CCTV cameras at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus showed Sanap drinking alcohol 30 minutes before Anuhya’s train arrived. He also spoke to some people, including railway staff, all off whom police questioned.
The CCTV footage had to been enhanced as it was not clear.
Who the police questioned
Several taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers were questioned by Mumbai Police and Government Railway Police. Tea vendors in the area too were questioned to get clues.
Rakesh Maria, currently the chief of the Home Guard, had just taken over as commissioner of police in February 2014 and made the case his number one priority. He conducted regular reviews and ensured the sensitive case was cracked within three weeks of his taking over.
Sources said Maria suggested rechecking all the suspect, including those questioned by the GRP. This proved to be vital to the case because Sanap was questioned by the GRP and let off after he lied his way through the questioning.