5 Dec 2010

CHILDLINE Ahmednagar fights for justice; 20 get double life terms

The battle to bring to book those who shattered her life did not go waste for this victim of rape, who waited three years before the Ahmednagar sessions court announced life imprisonment for all the 20 accused. The case was exposed by CHILDLINE Ahmednagar, following a tip off.

On February 23, 2006, CHILDLINE Ahmednagar was contacted by an auto rickshaw driver from Maliwada in Ahmednagar with a missing complaint of his 14 years old daughter. Neha, a fourteen year old girl belongs to lower socio-economic background. Neha had lost her mother at very young age and her father was an auto rickshaw driver. She was studying in 9th standard in one of the reputed schools in the city.

CHILDLINE Ahmednagar rescued the minor girl child from flesh trade and convinced the victim to file a police complaint at the Tofkhana police station and C.R. No. 50 was registered on February 24, 2010. Neha narrated her trauma of the past three years to the CHILDLINE team members that she was threatened and taken to various places such as Dhule, Ahmednagar, Sangamner, Shahada, Shirdi and Goa and repeatedly raped by the accused. Since several local politicians and traders were involved in the scandal, the case was handed over to the State Crime Investigation Department (CID).
A total of 25 people comprising police and Government officers, local political leaders, lawyers, Industrialists were booked in the case. However, the main accused, Sheela Bargal, died a couple of months after the case was registered in February 2006. The hearing of the case lasted for more than four years and 38 witnesses were examined. After a 4 year legal battle, CHILDLINE succeeds in getting conviction of 20 high profile individuals who were exposed in a brutal case of gang rape, trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. In a landmark judgement all the 20 accused were sentenced to double life term imprisonment and additional fine to cover rehabilitation of the victim.

On September 20 2010, the District and Sessions Court judge Makarand D. Keskar convicted 20 people with two life terms in the high profile case of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of a child. The judge also fined all the convicts Rs. 10,000/- each for every section they were charged with, failing which they will have to undergo additional jail term of three months to five years.

The convicts were punished under section 376(2)(g) gang rape, 120(b), 376(rape), 120(b) and section 5(a)(1)(d) of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) and 366 (kidnapping).The convicts have been asked to pay a fine of Rs.10,000 each for every section under which he was booked. Fifty percent of the fine amount will be used for rehabilitating the victim. The case was pleaded by special Public Prosecutor Advocate Vijay Sawant.

CHILDLINE Ahmednagar received a massive appreciation by Judicial circles, Media, NGO's, Police department and the well wishers. The 20 year old, Neha plans to finish her studies. "I dream of joining the police to help unfortunate girls like me stand on their feet again," she said.

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