A Kolkata sessions court on Thursday found six of the eight accused men guilty of gangraping and murdering a 20-year-old women at Kamduni village in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district in 2013.
While three men could face capital punishment as they were found guilty on both counts, three others were found guilty of gangrape and other charges and two were acquitted.
Bankshall court judge Sanchita Sarkar pronounced the verdict in the case where nine men were named in the charge sheet and one died during the trial.
While Ansar Ali Mollah, Saiful Ali, Amin Ali were found guilty of sections 302 and 376(d) and may face the death penalty, Bhola Naskar, Imanul Islam and Aminur Islam will face a minimum of rigorous imprisonment for at least 20 years.
Rafikul Islam Gazi and Noor Alam were acquitted.
The quantum of punishment will be announced on Friday.
The woman, a second-year college student, was abducted, gangraped and brutally murdered by the nine men on June 7, 2013, while returning home from college at Kamduni. The men had tore apart her legs up to the navel and slit her throat before dumping her body in a fish pond.
Kamduni villagers, infuriated with the brutality, caught hold of one of the key accused, Ansar Ali, and handed him over to the police. Eight more men were arrested by the police subsequently.
The ghastly rape and murder triggered an explosion of protest in Kamduni as villagers burst into agitation against the police and the ruling party. In a bid to pacify the protesters, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the police would file the charge-sheet within 15 days and the perpetrators would be punished within a month.
But the ruling Trinamool Congress and the police were at the receiving end of the villagers’ wrath right from the beginning. The chief minister had dubbed the protesters as Maoists during her first visit to the village 10 days after the brutal rape and murder enraging its people further.
The Kamduni Protibadi Mancha was formed soon and its members traveled across south Bengal demanding change in government attitude and increased safety for women.
The police filed the charge sheet seven days after the deadline and the accused persons were charged under sections 376A (causing injury during the course of rape that leads to death), 376D (gang-rape), 302 (murder), 201 (tampering with evidence) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Sections 376A and 302 have provisions for death sentence.
The chargesheet was filed on June 29 but in the wake of mass protests outside the Barasat sub-divisional court, where the accused were being tried, and alleged life threats on the accused and their lawyers, the case was shifted to the city sessions court in Kolkata.
On Thursday, the government lawyer pleaded for the maximum punishment of death.
Hundreds of students, activists and villagers of Kamduni had gathered at the court premises and demanded that the culprits be awarded capital punishment.
“We had to face severe pressure from the ruling party. They also tried to buy us off. Finally, we are happy that justice has been delivered,” said Tumpa Koyal, a friend of the victim and one of the faces of the protests that followed the 2013 brutality.
“All of them should have be awarded capital punishment,” said Mousumi Koyal, another prominent protester and a homemaker.