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A Thane court has sentenced two men to four years' rigorous imprisonment for molesting two minor girls residing in their neighbourhood.
Additional Sessions Judge Sangita C Khalipe awarded the punishment to Shyam Hitendra Chavan (36), an auto-rickshaw driver, and Pradeep Gaikwad (28), a labourer. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 each on them.
According to the prosecution, the two girls, aged 9 and 5, were playing near their respective houses at Sathe Nagar in Wagle Estate area of the city on April 7 last year.
The accused, with whom the girls were familiar as they lived in the same area, arrived there in an auto-rickshaw, picked up the victims and took them to an isolated location where they molested them. The accused later dropped the girls back at their homes, the prosecution said.
Later, the minors informed about the incident to their parents, who lodged a complaint with the local police following which the two accused were arrested.
They were booked under IPC sections 354 (molestation) and 363 (kidnapping), and relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Judge Khalipe rejected the submission of the defence counsels.
She observed that the prosecution proved the accused forcibly took the two girls in the auto-rickshaw with an intention to kidnap them while they were playing.
They lured the girls with an offer of ice creams and molested them, the judge said.
"Considering the nature of the offence, I do not find any mitigating circumstance for a lenient view," she said in her order last week.
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