After an 11-year-old long wait for justice, the main accused in the Ashiana gang rape case, Gaurav Shukla, was finally convicted by the fast-track court here on Wednesday.
The brutal crime that sent shockwaves through the state took place on May 2, 2005 when a rag picker’s 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped and gang raped in a moving car by six influential spoilt brats in Ashiana area of the state capital. They later dumped her on the roadside in Daliganj.
The case was one of the first in India to highlight the spurt in crimes such as murder or rapes committed by juveniles and triggered outrage due to the influential families the six accused belonged to.
While Shukla was taken into police custody soon after the verdict, the quantum of punishment will be announced on Saturday. Unlike his earlier appearances before the court, Shukla looked nervous and covered his face with a white handkerchief on Wednesday.
His trial was delayed by almost a decade because he initially claimed to be below 18 years of age at the time of the incident, and was declared a minor by the juvenile justice board (JJB).
Hailing the court’s verdict the victim said, “I am happy and relieved to get justice after a long wait of 11 years. I was confident that my patience will give me good results and the cheer will be enough to give me a new lease of life.”
Meanwhile, the accused’s family has decided to challenge the fast-tract court’s verdict in a higher court.
The verdict came after the special revision petition filed by the accused in the Supreme Court was rejected on Tuesday. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on April 8 directed the fast-track court to deliver the judgment on April 13 after the victim’s counsel had filed an application over the delay in judgment.
While the other co-accused were convicted, the trial of 29-year-old Shukla began after he was declared a major at the time of the incident by the juvenile justice board on March 11, 2015.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on November 16, 2015 had directed the trial court to decide the case within three months. On November 26, charges of gang rape, abduction and criminal intimidation were framed against Shukla.
The judgment in the case was reserved by the fast-track court additional district judge Anil Kumar Shukla on February 9 and could not be pronounced due to the pending revision plea of the prime accused over juvenility at the time of the crime.
Members of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), who were present outside the court room since Wednesday afternoon, also hailed the judgment.
Prof Roop Rekha Verma, who was closely associated with the case said, “We had no doubt that Shukla will be convicted since the other co-accused in the case have already been found guilty. The quantum of punishment will also be as per the new laws.”
“A number of delay tactics were used by the accused. But thankfully nothing worked in his favour,” said Madhu Garg, another social activist supporting the victim.