Kupwara — In a significant judgment, a court in Kupwara on Friday awarded death sentence to all four persons convicted in gangrape and murder of eighth graderTabinda Gani in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 2007, terming the case as “rarest of rare” while calling the convicts as “menace to the society.”
The convicts—Azher Ahmad Mir allias Billa son of Ghulam Muhammad; Muhammad Sadiq Mir alias Saada Choor son of Abdur Rehman, both residents of Langate and two non-locals Jehangir Ansari son of Sirajuddin of West Bengal and Suresh Kumar alias Suresh Moochi of Rajasthan—were sentenced to death for offences under section 302/34 of RPC and to rigorous imprisonment of seven years for office punishable under section 363/34 of RPC.
“The convicts are also sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for the offence punishable under sections 376 (G)/34 RPC. They are also sentenced to simple imprisonment of one month for offence punishable under section 341/34 of RPC. The sentences shall run concurrently,” the Court said.
Principal and Sessions Judge Kupwara Muhammad Ibrahim Wani pronounced the verdict, Greater Kashmir reported.
“In the light of various judgments of Apex Court, when the question of awarding sentence for the offences for which accused stand convicted under sections 341, 363, 376 (G), 302, 34 RPC is considered, at this stage the age of the convicts, their future prospective in their life, the liability of the convicts relating to their family members and their relatives and their possibility for service to the society would not be treated as mitigating circumstances. The convicts have been held responsible for gang rape and murder of a helpless minor girl which they have committed in heinous and diabolical manner. The act of rape and murder of minor girl committed by the convicts is of such a nature which has shaken the whole community and given a serious blow to collective conscience of the community. The mitigating circumstances as projected by the defense counsel are not such which will balance and outweigh the aggravating circumstances. The convicts have not shown any mercy or pity on the helpless victim. The victim had no fault except that she belonged to fair sex and was not in a position to resist or repel the acts of the accused/convicts,” the judge held.
“In present days when the crime against women especially minor girls is on increase, the court has a duty to give stern warning and message to such criminal-minded people. They need to be given a message that it may take some time for courts to decide or mill of the justice may grind slowly, but ultimately it will deliver and give right lesson to such criminal-minded people. Leniency of any kind would not serve collective conscience of the society. The punishment has a purpose to achieve and one of the main purposes is that the others who may have a tendency to commit such crimes may get stern warning by observing what type of punishment has been awarded to those who have committed such offences. We are passing through a time where values have been lost. A woman who was to be treated as mother, sister, daughter, grandmother is nowadays being looked as object for satisfying carnal desires by the persons having criminal mindset or tendency. Stern warning or message needs to be sent to them by the court by awarding appropriate punishment,” the court said, while asserting that “sympathy (with such persons) is good but undue sympathy may lead to disorder and chaos in the society.”
The judge who pronounced the verdict said “I am of the opinion that the case of the convicts falls within the rarest of rare category. The points raised by learned counsel for awarding of punishment of ‘imprisonment for life’ are devoid of merit. The defense cannot withstand the touch stones of law laid down by the Supreme Court. In the instant case, death sentence is warranted for the office of murder and there is no alternative than to award death sentence for offence of murder for the offence under section 303/34 of RPC.”
The Court said after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and going through pros and cons and balancing the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, it is “of the opinion that convicts are a menace to the society. When they have shown no sympathy to the helpless minor girl who was yet reading in her middle class and to conceal their evil deeds, they have restored to drastic and extreme brutal acts which has resulted in depriving life of the minor who was helpless and innocent, these type of acts committed by convicts are bound to arose social wrath.”
The court said a question of prime importance “which must awake the conscience of all members of the society is why members of fair sex are being subjected to such inhuman and brutal treatment.”
“The question must make all of us ponder over ‘why is it so happening!’. In spite of awareness regarding the rights of women or rights of children, the crimes against women and children are on increase. Why? No doubt we have progressed in education and literacy rate has gone up. With increase in literacy rate, the crime rate against women and children should have declined. But unfortunately, it is opposite.”
It said: “Some basic thing is lacking. We as a society have to give serious thought to it and stigmatize crime. The crime is to be looked not only as crime against an individual but against the society. Today one person or one family may be affected by the crime but if it remains unchecked, tomorrow it will be our turn. We have to keep in mind that half of our population consists of women folk. If they do not feel safe or protected from members of other sex, there will be chaos, confusion, lawlessness, disorder and a society which will be based on lessiz-faire. Every section of society has to play a role. No doubt financially or in terms of literacy rate, we have gone up but we have lost our values. The values need to be regenerated. Our education system has to give serious thought for imbibing the value-oriented education. Education without values has been rightly called to be a candle in the hands of a thief,” the court said.
“The voice of people is the voice of God. In New Delhi when the civil society rose against Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, not only the administration including the police but the whole political class was shaken and the response was in the form of legislative amendments and setting up of fast track courts for trying sexual offences. Time has come for all of us to rise to the occasion, search for values whether in homes, educational institutions, in work places, offices or on roads, in transport system and public places. If the society collectively doesn’t respond, there is apprehension that such incidents may continue to recur in future. Declining sex ratio of females is one of the fallouts of the crimes against women,” the court held.
Tabindah Gani, a class 8th student was found murdered in orchards in Langate area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on July 20, 2007.
Immediately thereafter, Police rounded up 16 persons in connection with investigation of the case.
On July 24, police claimed to have solved the case, disclosing that four persons including two non-locals were involved in the horrific crime.
According to police investigation, all four accused were close associates for two years.
The police investigation revealed that on the fateful day, the accused intercepted Tabinda when she was going back to home from her school.
“The accused confessed that the girl cried desperately for help but she was overpowered by them. Later she was raped by all of them. They have also confessed that the victim had subsequently fainted,” the police investigation revealed.
“Using a locally-made knife, one of the accused slit her throat, leading to her death. Subsequently, they buried her body leaving her face open in apple orchards in Langate area,” the police said.
On September 18, 2007, police filed charge-sheet against the accused in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Handwara and on December 27, 2007, the Sessions Court Kupwara charge-sheeted the accused.
On April 18, 2015, all the accused were convicted by Principal District & Sessions Judge Kupwara.