Kopardi rape victim awaits justice even after an year | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Kopardi rape victim awaits justice even after an year

Special public prosecutor blames defence councel for the delay.

pune Updated: Jul 13, 2017 15:46 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Members of Sambhaji Brigade Maraatha Seva Sangh participate in a candle march for Kopardi rape and murder case victim which completes one year in Pune .
Members of Sambhaji Brigade Maraatha Seva Sangh participate in a candle march for Kopardi rape and murder case victim which completes one year in Pune .(HT PHOTO)

On July 13, last year, a 14-year-old girl from Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district was allegedly raped and murdered by three suspects. The incident triggered massive protests across the state. While the protests later fizzled out, due to the overriding ambitions of the organisers, the family of the victim still awaits justice as the case is yet to reach its end despite being fast tracked.

According to the 350-page charge sheet filed by police in the court, the victim was raped and murdered by Jitendra Shinde, Santosh G Bhaval and Nitin G Bhailume when she was returning home on a bicycle from her grandparents’ house in the evening. As news spread the next day, Maratha community came on street in large numbers demanding stringent action against the accused.

The protest galvanised Marathas against Dalit as the victim belonged to the Maratha community while the suspects were Dalit. While the agitation was largely peaceful, incidents of violence were reported from Nashik where Dalits came under attack.

The protest forced government to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as special public prosecutor and fast track the case. According to prosecution, the case is currently at its last stage with cross examination being done by defence.

While the prosecution has closed the case from its side by presenting 31 witnesses, the delay is largely because of the defence counsel of accused number two who filed various applications seeking to summon chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Nikam as witness.

On Monday, the district and sessions court in Ahmednagar rejected defence plea to summon Nikam as one of the witness. Advocate Balasaheb Khopade, the defence counsel for one of the suspect Santosh Bhaval filed an application before the magistrate seeking the cross examination of Nikam as one of the witness. The defence lawyer accused Nikam for “coaching” the witnesses. Earlier, the Judge rejected another plea that sought to summon Fadnavis.

Nikam said the delay is being done intentionally by the defence counsel of Bhaval. “The prosecution has closed the evidence on May 31 by examining 31 witnesses. The delay is on account of accused number 2,” said Nikam.

On Wednesday, various organisations held candle march in Pune and Ahmednagar in the memory of victim. To keep the memories of the deceased alive residents of Kopardi are constructing a memorial for the minor. The memorial, which is expected to be completed within a fortnight, is being built with the support from spiritual leader Bhaiyyu Maharaj while some social organisations are also part of the initiative.

TIMELINE:

July 13, 2016: A 14-year-old girl belonging to Maratha community was allegedly raped and murdered by three suspect

October 7, 2016: Prosecution files charge sheet

October 17: Charges were framed

May 24, 2017: Prosecution close evidence by examining 31 witnesses

BOX II

The Kopardi incident triggered massive protests across the state with Marathas holding peace march in various cities

In memory of the victim, various organisations from Ahmednagar carried out candle march in the city.

On victim’s first death anniversary, politicians and Maratha outfits plan to visit Kopardi.