Kolkata: A lower court on Thursday convicted six people for the brutal gang rape and murder of a college student in West Bengal’s Kamduni village.
Additional City and sessions judge Sanchita Sarkar acquitted two other accused for want of evidence.
Arguments and counter-arguments on the quantum of punishment will be heard by the court on Friday.
Saiful Ali, Ansar Ali and Amin Ali were declared guilty of gang rape and murder by the judge, over two years and seven months after the gruesome incident near Barasat, 20 km from Kolkata, in North 24 Parganas district. The maximum punishment for these charges is death.
Three other accused — Sheikh Emanul Islam, Aminur Islam and Bhola Naskar — were pronounced guilty of gang rape, criminal conspiracy and causing disappearance of evidence, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
They could face the maximum punishment of life sentence.
Rafiqul Islam and Nur Ali were acquitted, while the ninth accused Gopal Naskar died while the trial was on.
The 20-year-old girl was attacked while she was returning home from college on June 7, 2013. The second-year BA student was forcibly taken inside a factory where she was gang-raped and then savagely murdered, sparking widespread outrage across the country.
Saiful, who waylaid the girl on a deserted road and took her forcibly inside the factory, was also pronounced guilty of abetting the offence and wrongful confinement.
Her disfigured body, with injury marks all over, was discovered the next morning in a field behind the factory.
The incident had raised a storm in the state, with the villagers, many of them friends and relatives of the victim, floating a platform Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha and seeking speedy justice and capital punishment to the guilty.
They knocked on the doors of top political and constitutional authorities including the president, demanding that the trial be expedited.
Sensing the sensitivity of the case, the Mamata Banerjee government handed it over to the state police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which named nine people in its charge sheet.
However, controversies erupted one after another.
There was much hue and cry when two village girls — Tumpa Koyal and Moushumi Koyal — the face of the Kamduni protests — were angrily labeled “CPI-M people” by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had to face a demonstration despite an unannounced visit to the victim’s ramshackle home days after the incident.
Police also drew flak after the victim’s uncle, a key witness in the case, succumbed to his injuries following a scuffle with security personnel during one of the protests in September 2013.
Street protests synged Kolkata and other parts of the state in the days and months after the Kamduni incident.
Women, youths, rights activists and college and school students, as well as leading lights of the civil society took out marches and rallies, and addressed meetings demanding justice and railing against what they called the “deteriorating law and order”.