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
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.