Two get 20-year jail for rape during Muzaffarnagar riots

A Muzaffarnagar court on Tuesday sentenced two people to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for the gangrape of a woman, who was a minor at the time, in Shamli during the 2013 communal riots.

Additional District Judge Anjani Kumar Singh, at a POCSO Act court in Muzaffarnagar, also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 each on the two, identified as Maheshvir and Sikandar. The third accused in the case, Kuldeep, died during the course of the trial.

The woman, then a 16-year-old, was gangraped by the three men – aged between 20 and 40 – after they barged into her house and severely beat her family members. The incident took place on September 8, 2013, as the riots that started in Muzaffarnagar spread to neighbouring areas. During the riots, clashes between two communities led to the killing of more than 60 people and the displacement of more than 50,000.

“The accused have been charged with IPC sections 376(D) (gangrape), 376(2)(g) (punishment for committing rape during communal or sectarian violence) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation)… Both have been sent to jail,” additional district government counsel Kiran Pal told The Indian Express.

In her multi-page statements to police, the woman had said there was large-scale violence and looting in the area on the night of September 8, when the three men from a nearby area attacked her house.

The FIR in connection with the case was lodged on February 18, 2014, nearly five months after the incident.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) later filed a chargesheet against the three accused. Seven witnesses, including the victim, were examined during the course of the trial.

The Supreme Court had instructed the trial court in Muzaffarnagar to treat the case as a priority, and to avoid frequent adjournment. These instructions came after a petition by senior lawyer Vrinda Grower, who had alleged that the accused were trying to delay the proceedings.