Hang Till Death

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As Chief Minister announced a mandatory capital punishment in cases of rape of children, Saima Bhat reports the two cases from Kashmir in which trial courts have awarded the death sentence

It took three months for the society to wake up, campaign and pursue the case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl, Asifa Bano, vigorously. The details of the gruesome rape and murder of a little girl send shivers down the spine and barring few elements in Jammu, has evoked strong condemnations and equal punishment.

After the Crime Branch filed the charge-sheet, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has come up with a proposal: the mandatory death penalty for child rapists.

She has emphasised that the case of Asifa should be the last. However, it was not the first such case in PDP led government. There are two shocking incidents where minor girls were brutally raped and then killed, on this side of tunnel, Kashmir.

The proposal of the chief executive of the state has created a hope for the families of two minor daughters waiting for the justice for last many years. In both the cases, the trial courts have awarded death sentences.

The first case was reported from Mehjoor Nagar, in 2005, where a six-year-old girl raped and later killed, brutally.

The victim family fought the case amid pulls and pressures, silently and after 12 years, the district court sentenced the convict, Farooq Ahmad Pinzoo, for capital punishment. The case is presently going on in the High Court but no final decision has taken place, so far.

The details of the crime are bone-chilling. That day in Mehjoor Nagar’s Gulshan Abad area, a class 1st student, the victim, went missing while searching for her mother who had gone to one of their neighbour’s house, whose cattle flock was attacked by dogs.

Not aware of the direction in which her mother had gone, she took another way, the wrong one.

Pinzoo, a neighbour lured the baby with a chocolate. He held her hand, took her away and raped her. Once done with the crime, he did not feel it safe to let her go and killed her instantly. Later he packed her body in a sack and left it in a trench. She was later found after five days of her killing.

FIR 180 of 2005 was termed “rarest of rare” cases by the second additional sessions Judge Srinagar while passing the judgment that “He shall be hanged till death.”

“A little doll (victim) of just six years of age, who was yet to bloom and add to the beauty of the world was crushed to death in the most horrendous and barbaric manner in 2005 by the convict,” the judgment reads. “After doing this highly detestable act of extreme depravity, convict wrapped her body in a sack and threw it in a trench to conceal it from the eyes of the people around.”

The second case was reported, after two years on June 27, 2007, from Handwara where 13-year-old Tabinda Gani, was gang-raped and then killed by four convicts, two of them non-locals.

On a fateful day, before leaving in the morning, a class 7th student, Tabinda had promised her elder sister that they will have lunch together. As she was walking towards her home in Batpora, Handwara, almost 300 meters from the main crossing, someone suddenly appeared from behind and threw sawdust in her eyes.

As she struggled with the blurred vision and shock, she was then dragged into a nearby orchard by four young men, two of them local Kashmiri boys with criminal background. They tore apart her clothes. When she resisted, they beat her up and then took turns to rape her. Fearing detection, the assailants slit her throat and dug up a small grave where she was buried.

The family members waiting for her turned anxious as she did not return. Few went out to search for her and later her uncle received a phone call that her school bag and shoes were found in a village orchard.

A few minutes later, another call informed them that Tabinda’s body was found. The corpse was naked with a pencil in her hand; her uniform almost 50 meters away from her body and her bag full of books.

For the next 21 days, Handwara remained closed and the people were demanding justice. When the police started investigations, they found nail marks on Suresh, the cobbler. He was subjected to intense questioning during which he broke down and the case was cracked. The details revealed that the accused, Mohammad Sadiq Mir alias Saeda Choor, Azhar Ahmad Mir alias Billa, both residents of Langate, Handwara, Mocha Jahangir Ansari from West Bengal and Suresh Kumar from Rajasthan, had laid an elaborate trap for Tabinda. Minutes before she arrived on a fateful day, two boys were about to take the same route. The assailants didn’t want their plans derailed. They intercepted the boys and handed them chocolates with an advice to take another route. A bear was detected in the orchards and it was not safe to move on the road, the assailants told the boys who unwittingly left without protest. They later deposed before the court and recognized Azhar and Suresh, a cobbler.

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