All 13 held guilty in Birbhum gang rape case
A district court held all 13 persons guilty of subjecting a tribal girl to gang rape after a kangaroo court dictated that punishment for her for having an affair with a boy of a different community.
The quantum of punishment would be declared on Saturday. But it was clear that since they were all found guilty of gang rape, they would have to spend at least 20 years behind the bars, the minimum sentence under the section (376(D) of IPC.
The verdict came within eight months of the incident that shocked the nation.
The additional district and sessions judge, Siddhartha Roy Choudhury, took five minutes on Friday afternoon (2:50--2:55 pm) to pronounce them guilty under three sections of IPC. These are -- 342 (wrongful confinement), 376(D) (gang rape) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of IPC.
All 13 were escorted into the courtroom with their faces covered. Within a few minutes they were escorted out in the same manner.
Incidentally, after the nationwide outrage over the incident, the Mamata Banerjee administration decided to ban kangaroo courts, especially among the tribal-dominated areas. The decision resulted in angry demonstrations by tribal leaders that who argued that these courts are traditional ways of dispensing justice within the comunity and interfering with this practice will result in prolonged agitation by the tribals.
In the third week of July, charges were framed against all 13 accused persons in Subolpur gang rape case, at Bolpur Court.
Charges were framed in the court of the additional district and sessions judge, Siddhartha Roy Choudhury, under sections 364(A) (kidnapping for ransom), 342 (wrongful confinement), 376(D) (gang rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of IPC.
Two sections could not be substantiated during the trial.
The country was shocked when on January 21, a tribal girl of Subolpur village of Labhpur police station area was allegedly gang raped by a group of people. Her crime: she had an affair with a boy of a different community. A village kangaroo court allegedly ordered that the girl should be raped as a punishment.
After the news spread, even the supreme court took notice of the incident and directed the district magistrate of Birbhum to submit a report on what happened.
The police quickly arrested 13 persons – Balai Mardi (58), Sunil Kisku allies Sunil Soren (35), Chana Mardi (25), Madan Mardi (29), Suresh Mardi (22), Kartik Mardi (20), Jetha Tudu (21), Lalu Murmu (26), Balu Tudu (57), Ram Soren (20), Jotha Mardi (50), Babon Mardi (19), Debraj Mondal (25). They were named in the FIR registered on the basis of the complaint lodged by the victim.
On April 18 this year, investigating officer Partha Ghosh (DSP Head Quarter) filed a 416-page charge sheet before additional chief judicial magistrate at Bolpur court against the 13 persons for perpetrating gang rape.