Death for stalker who killed nurse in Ban­dra acid at­tack Govt side­steps Hur­riyat, hard­ens J&K strat­egy

LAND­MARK VERDICT In a first for such a crime, court hands out cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in 2013 case

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Charul Shah charul.shah@hin­dus­tan­times.com DK Singh deepak.singh1@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In a land­mark judge­ment on Thurs­day, spe­cial women’s court judge AS Shende sen­tenced 25-year-old Ankur Pan­war to death for a fa­tal acid at­tack on 23-year-old nurse Preeti Rathi at Ban­dra ter­mi­nus in May 2013. Pan­war, Rathi’s neigh­bour in Delhi, threw sul­phuric acid on her just after she ar­rived in Mum­bai on May 2, 2013 to join the In­dian Navy as a nurse. Rathi died of mul­ti­ple or­gan fail­ure at Bom­bay Hospi­tal a month later. Pan­war at­tacked her as he was jeal­ous of her suc­cess and be­cause she had re­jected his mar­riage pro­posal.

This is the first time that a con­vict in In­dia has been sen­tenced to death for an acid at­tack. In­dia is also only the sec­ond coun­try, after Bangladesh, to have done so. Un­der Bangladesh’s Acid Crime Sup­pres­sion Act, at­tack­ers can be sen­tenced to death.

Pan­war was con­victed pri­mar­ily on the ba­sis of eye­wit­nesses’ state­ments, and be­cause he could not ex­plain cer­tain in­jury marks on his hand. Judge Shende said that acid at­tacks were more bru­tal than rape. The judge said, “Rape de­stroys the soul of the vic­tim. But she can be kept in iso­la­tion, with­out dis­clos­ing her iden­tity, and be re­ha­bil­i­tated. But for an acid at­tack vic­tim, she has to move around with her de­stroyed body.”

Judge Shende added, “Preeti sur­vived for 30 days be­cause she did not know how she looked; she was blind. She had no idea of the ef­fect of the at­tack on her face. Sur­vivors of acid at­tacks look like aliens — their own chil­dren can get scared of them. This is the kind of ef­fect acid has on the body, and a per­son can­not live with­out their body.”

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, Rathi ar­rived in Mum­bai with her fa­ther and aunt on May 2, 2013 to join INHS Aswini as lieu­tenant (nurs­ing). Soon after they alighted at Ban­dra ter­mi­nus, Pan­war, who had fol­lowed her from Delhi, tapped Rathi on the shoul­der. When she turned around, he threw acid on her, also in­jur­ing her fa­ther Amars­ingh, aunt Su­nita Dahiya, and two other KILLER SMILES AS HE IS SEN­TENCED TO DEATH ‘A CRUEL MAN, HE DOES NOT DE­SERVE TO LIVE’ pas­sen­gers, Sude­shaku­mari Singh and Sameer Shaikh. Rathi was taken Guru Nanak Hospi­tal and later shifted to Masina Hospi­tal. When her con­di­tion wors­ened, she was taken to Bom­bay Hospi­tal on May 18. But she suc­cumbed to her in­juries on June 1.

The Cen­tre will not hold talks with sep­a­ratists in Kash­mir as it aims to “first es­tab­lish the pri­macy of the State” by quelling at­tempts to top­ple an elected state govern­ment through vi­o­lence, govern­ment sources said on Thurs­day.

The hard­en­ing of the NDA govern­ment’s stance is based on as­sess­ment that the cur­rent un­rest in the Val­ley is “quite dif­fer­ent” from those in the past as it has “ex­ces­sive re­li­gious di­men­sions” and its ob­jec­tive is to es­tab­lish “a theo­cratic state”.

The govern­ment was ear­lier open to talks with all stake­hold­ers , a stance re­it­er­ated on Wed­nes­day by Union min­is­ter Ji­ten­dra Singh after a meet­ing of the all-party del­e­ga­tion that vis­ited Jammu & Kash­mir on Septem­ber 4-5.

A se­nior govern­ment func­tionary said that there has been “im­prove­ment” in the sit­u­a­tion in the Val­ley where 62 peo­ple — un­of­fi­cial es­ti­mates put the num­ber at 75 — have lost their lives in clashes be­tween se­cu­rity forces and protesters since the killing of mil­i­tant com­man­der Burhan Wani on July 8.

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