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Court brings closure to Kopardi rape case which led to Maratha unrest

Court brings closure to Kopardi rape case which led to Maratha unrest

On Wednesday, a sessions court in Ahmedabad sentenced three men to death for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl last year, a case that headed to statewide protests and anger from the Maratha community.

Jitendra Shinde, 25, Santosh Bhaval, 36, and Nitin Bhailume, 26, were convicted by additional special judge Suvarna Kevale at the sessions court in Ahmednagar.

Today, the death sentence to all the three convicts of Kopardi rape and murder case has announced by the Ahmednagar district court. The incident turned out to be the trigger for silent marches by Marathas across the state.

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The crime took place on July 13, 2016 when the 15-year-old was abducted, raped, mutilated and killed, sparking off a casteist and political furore in Maharashtra. According to police, the accused broke her limbs before throttling her. On October 7, the Ahmednagar police had filed the charge sheet running into over 350 pages before the court. The Class 9 student, who belonged to the Maratha community, was out to fetch some spices from her grandmother's home in the same village.

Barring those directly concerned with the Kopardi case - special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and his team of lawyers, the police brass including the case investigators, the family members of the victim and the court staffers - nobody else was permitted entry. However, when she resisted, two of the accused said that they would "see her later". Nikam added that the case was very challenging for the prosecution as there was no eye-witness.

Chief Minister Fadnavis, welcoming the verdict, said, "No one ever would dare to commit such a crime in this state anymore after this verdict". Bhawal and Bhailume were awarded three years for conspiracy in outraging of modesty, life sentence for conspiracy of rape and death sentence for conspiracy to murder. While passing the judgment, the court called them all in front of the dais and explained to them their conviction clauses, saying that the death sentences are subject to confirmation by the Bombay High Court. All jail sentences would run concurrently. Since he failed to pay the fine, the court Wednesday ordered the district administration to recover it from him.