Court convicts 2 for gang rape during Muzaffarnagar riots
The Muslim woman was gang-raped by three men after putting a knife to the throat of her minor son and threatening her with dire consequences in the Phugana area.
A Muzaffarnagar district court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced two men to 20 years in prison for gang raping a Muslim woman during the 2013 communal riots, marking the end of an arduous trial that spanned nearly a decade and saw six other cases of rape collapse.
Additional district sessions judge A K Singh also imposed a fine of ₹15,000 each on the two men, Mahesh Vir and Sikandar, who were convicted under sections 376(2)(g) (punishment for committing rape during communal or sectarian violence), 376D (gangrape) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, the survivor’s lawyer Rizwan said.
“Accused Mahesh Vir and Sikandar are being sentenced to 20 years in prison under section 376D of the Indian Penal Code and a fine of ₹10,000 (each) is also imposed on them,” said the court
On September 8, 2013, a day after clashes first broke out ( on September 7) between Jat and Muslim communities in western Uttar Pradesh, the Muslim woman was gang-raped by three men after putting a knife to the throat of her minor son and threatening her with dire consequences in the Phugana area.
A special investigation team probing the communal violence filed a charge sheet against three people -- Kuldeep, Maheshvir and Sikander -- in the court. Kuldeep died during the trail of the case.
Seven witnesses, including the victim, were examined in the court during the course of the trial. It was only intervention of the Supreme Court in May 2014 that a case of gang rape was registered against the accused on a petition filed by seven women through senior advocate Vrinda Grover and Advoate Kamini Jaiswal.
“Time spent by the accused persons in jail will be adjusted in the prison term awarded to them as per law,” observed the court.
Sixty-four people were killed in one of the worst-ever communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts on September 8, 2013. The clashes broke out after a girl was harassed in Kawal village of Charthawal area of Muzaffarnagar. More than 50,000 people were displaced due to the violence that followed.
The charge sheet was filed in January 24, 2014, the soon after the trial began.
But the proceedings were repeatedly delayed. During this time, the other six cases of rape connected to the Muzaffarnagar rape collapsed one after the other as witnesses turned hostile and victims were browbeaten into compromise.
In May 2014, she approached the Supreme Court, seeking to expedite the trial.
Social activist and advocate Akram Akhtar was among those who provided legal support to the survivor’s family. Akhtar said the woman was 26 when she was gang raped. “I visited the family often and witnessed their hardships, it was not easy for them to fight a battle for 10 years,” he said, adding that the woman’s husband, a tailor, is the sole bread earner of the family.
Victim’s husband, meanwhile, said they have both received threats, and offers from money to take back the case. “We passed through a lot of hardships in the past 10 years during our battle for justice”, he said, adding that they had to leave their village and move from Laakh to Kandhla town of the district.
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