A sessions court on Wednesday convicted nine people of raping a 40-year-old woman in September 2013. The court sentenced two of the nine to life in prison and the seven others to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 4.60 lakh on the nine men and ordered that the money be used for the woman’s medical expenses and rehabilitation.
In all, the prosecution examined 44 witnesses. The testimonies of the woman and an eyewitness played a key role in securing the convictions. The woman identified all the accused in court and was grilled by defence lawyers over five hearings.
The prosecution said the woman, a rag-picker, had come to Mumbai from Nandurbar a few months before the incident to make a living. She slept on the streets and had been noticed by the prime accused, Vishal Sood, who worked as a caterer.
The woman said that on September 21, 2013, while she was sleeping in an open tempo, four men including Sood pulled her out of the vehicle, dragged her to a nearby shed and raped her. After this, one of them called other friends of his and took her to Ram Nagar in Mulund, where she was again raped repeatedly.
The next morning, she was spotted by passersby who helped search for her clothes and take her to the police station. The police booked nine suspects – Dastagir Khan, Vishal Sood, Ajay Gechand, Mahesh Maragaje, Wahid Sheikh, Wasim Sheikh, Manpreetsingh Gill, Bhuvan Hamal and Dhiraj Panchal.
On Wednesday, they were convicted for rape, kidnapping, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons and means, and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. The court sentenced Khan and Sood to life in jail and the others to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment.