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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Three get death sentence for Kopardi rape and murder: All about the case

The brutal murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl in 2016 became a rallying point for Marathas who, among other things, demanded a repeal of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2017 17:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
A Maratha protest in Mumbai earlier this year.
A Maratha protest in Mumbai earlier this year. (PTI)

The rape and murder of a 15-year-old in Maharashtra’s Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district last year caused widespread outrage and became a trigger for the Maratha protests last year. On Wednesday, a sessions court in Ahmednagar, awarded death sentence to three men convicted for the crime.

Here’s a closer look at the Kopardi case that rocked Maharashtra:

The case

On July 13, 2016, a 15-year-old girl was returning home after meeting her grandfather when the main accused Jitendra Shinde accosted her. Shinde brutally tortured and raped girl. He called his friends who dragged her to an isolated location and murdered her.

The victim’s body bore signs of brutal assault. Her limbs had been broken, hair pulled out, and bite marks were found all over her body.

The case caused an uproar in the Maharashtra assembly during the monsoon session, with the Opposition demanding action from the government. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made a statement saying the a fast-track court will hear the case. The state government also announced Rs 5 lakh financial help to the victim’s family.

Kopardi case in the court

The accused --Shinde, Nitin Bhailume and Santosh Bhaval --were arrested by the police right after the incident. But Ahmednagar remained tense, prompting the state to send a team to the village.

The state had appointed Ujjwal Nikam as public prosecutor.

On October 7, the Ahmednagar Police filed a chargesheet running into over 350 pages before the court in which the trio was charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Ahmednagar district and sessions court judge Suvarna Kevale pronounced all the three accused guilty in the Kopardi rape and murder case in November. Arguments over the quantum of punishment began on Novermber 21, with the defence arguing for life imprisonment. On Wednesday, the sessions court sentenced the three accused to death.

The Maratha protests

The Kopardi rape became the catalyst for Maratha protests that stretched over months. The victim belonged to the Maratha community while the accused were from the Dalit Mahar caste and worked as labourers in the same village.

The first protest by the Maratha Kranti Morcha was held days after the incident, where lakhs of Marathas marched across Ahmednagar, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Jalgaon districts. The protests, many of them completely silent, spread to other districts and the numbers swelled.

While the protests were set off by the rape, they were soon overtaken by other demands. The Maratha protestors demanded reservation in government jobs and colleges. They also demanded a repeal of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Fadnavis promptly announced several sops to pacify the Marathas, but their main demand for reservation is before the Bombay High Court, which is yet to decide on a petition challenging the 16% quota for the community announced by the previous government.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 12:44 IST