A special women’s court will hear the arguments on quantum of sentence in the Preeti Rathi acid attack case on Wednesday. Special public prosecutor (SPP) Ujjwal Nikam said the prosecution is likely to seek death penalty for the convict, Ankur Panwar.
On Tuesday the court had convicted the 25-year-old Delhi resident for murdering of 23-year-old Preeti Rathi in May 2013. Panwar threw acid on Rathi’s face at Bandra terminus soon after she arrived in Mumbai on May 2, 2013, to work as a nurse at a naval hospital in Colaba . Rathi suffered grievous injuries and died a month later of multiple organ failure. Panwar, Rathi’s neighbour in Delhi, reportedly attacked her as she had turned downed his marriage proposal and was jealous of her success .
As per the police records, Rathi arrived at Bandra terminus on May 2, 2013, with her father Amarsingh and aunt Sunita Dahiya, and was to join INHS Aswini as lieutenant (nursing). Panwar had taken the same train. At Bandra station, he tapped on her shoulder and threw acid on her when she turned. Amarsingh and Sunita, along with two other passengers, Sudeshakumari Singh and Sameer Shaikh, also sustained injuries in the attack.
Rathi was rushed to the Guru Nanak Hospital before being shifted to Masina Hospital. When her condition worsened, she was shifted to Bombay Hospital on May 18. However, she succumbed to her injuries on June 1. Rathi’s autopsy report states that she died of multiple organ failure.
Apeksha Vora, Panwar’s lawyer, alleged that Rathi had died not because of the acid attack, but owing to medical negligence by doctors at Bhabha Hospital. The prosecution, however, rejected the allegation and said Rathi had never been taken to Bhabha Hospital.
After a shoddy investigation, the government railway police (GRP) first arrested Pawankumar Gahalon, one of Rathi’s neighbour in Delhi but let him off as they found no evidence to link him to the murder. On January 17, 2014, the Mumbai crime branch arrested Panwar and charged him with murder.
While convicting Panwar, the court relied heavily on the testimony of Shaikh, who was also injured in the attack, and of another passenger, Rohit Singh, who identified Panwar in the court. Of the five eyewitnesses that deposed in the court, three were injured in the attack. In all, 37 witnesses, including doctors from all the three hospitals, were examined.
The prosecution also called as the shopkeeper, who identified Panwar as the person who had purchased acid from his shop, and also relied on call records to prove that Panwar had travelled from Delhi to Mumbai on the day of the murder.