A local court on Thursday awarded life imprisonment to the five men accused in the rape-murder of a 16-year-old girl of Lasoori Mohalla in the city in November 2009. The victim's charred body was found in a vacant plot at Green Park on November 11, 2009.
The accused are Sandeep Kumar Sandy of Badri Colony; Pankaj Singh Sandhu, alias Bheema, of Satnam Nagar; Rohit Kumar, alias Babbu, of Lasoori Mohalla; his brother Ramesh Kumar; and Jagdeep Kumar Billa of Basti Danishmanda.
Besides, Sandeep, Pankaj and Rohit have also been given 20-year rigorous imprisonment on gangrape charges under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
All five were awarded life sentence under Section 302 (murder) of IPC and seven-year imprisonment under section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information) of the IPC.
The five accused were also awarded seven-year imprisonment under section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information) of the IPC.
All sentences will run concurrently.
Additional district and sessions judge Harveen Bhardwaj also directed the accused to give Rs 4 lakh to the victim's parents as compensation (Rs 80,000 each) under Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Soon after the verdict was announced, convict brothers Ramesh Kumar and Rohit broke down in the courtroom. Arguments were completed on January 5 in the case.
In her complaint to the police, the deceased's mother, a resident of Lasoori Mohalla (now they live at Lidhran village), said on November 10, 2009, her daughter visited her friend's house at Nahlan village near Basti Danishmandan but did not return.
Next morning, they identified the victim's body with the help of her necklace, wrist band, hair and shoes as the body was partially burnt with kerosene. A bottle of liquor, five glasses etc were found from near spot.
After the commissionerate police failed to make any headway in the case, the Punjab and Haryana high court summoned the
Punjab DGP in this connection and ordered him to expedite investigation in 2012.
On July 3, 2012, the police formed a special investigation team (SIT) comprising then police commissioner, assistant commissioner of police (ACP, west), then ACP (crime) among others to probe the case.
The SIT arrested the five youths within five days of its formation. The accused were rounded up soon after the crime but were released allegedly under political pressure.
What led to their conviction?
Several witnesses had turned hostile during the course of trial. The accused were reportedly confident of their acquittal but the in-camera confession made by accused Pankaj, recovery of the deceased's bangles from Rohit's house, statement of shopkeeper from whom Rohit purchased these and the medical report led to their conviction.