Twelve days after the filing of the charge sheet in the Kopardi rape and murder case, which has generated much heat across Maharashtra in the last three months, trial in the case began in a local court today. Noted criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who has been appointed as the special public prosecutor in the case, today opened the case by describing the charges of criminal conspiracy for committing rape and murder against all the three accused. The accused-- Jitendra Babulal Shinde, Santosh Gorakh Bhawal and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume-- were produced in the court under heavy police presence. Stressing that criminal conspiracy charge need to be framed against all the accused, Nikam told the court that four to five days before the incident, the accused had stopped the girl and tried to molest her. "Four to five days prior to the incident, all the accused had interrupted and obstructed the victim and accused Jitendra alias 'Pappu' Shinde had tried to drag her to the nearby field," Nikam said, adding, however, when she resisted, the other two accused said that they would see her later. "Four days later the incident of rape and murder occurred and it shows the complicity of other two accused," Nikam argued in the court. The 15-year-old victim was raped on July 13 at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district, allegedly by the trio, who also inflicted injuries all over her body and broke her limbs before throttling her. On October 7, Ahmednagar police filed the charge sheet running into over 350 pages before a sessions court in the district in which the trio has been charged under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Nikam said that on the day of the incident, all the accused were moving on their motorcycle and were keeping a watch on the movements of the victim. He urged the court that besides the charge of criminal conspiracy, the charges of murder, rape and those related to relevant sections of POCSO Act- are also required to be framed against the trio. Nikam said with the statements of 70 witnesses, the prosecution will complete the trial expeditiously. The Kopardi incident proved to be the trigger for the silent marches (mook morchas) taken out by the Marathas across the state as the victim belonged to the community, while the culprits are Dalits.
Through their campaign they have also raised long-pending demands like quota in education and jobs.
(Reopens LGB 7) Meanwhile, one of the accused, Nitin Bhailume, filed an application in the court seeking his discharge in the case. The trial in the case will continue tomorrow. The Kopardi incident had sparked a huge public outrage and political slugfest with the Congress demanding Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's resignation on "moral grounds". Fadnavis had assured the victim's family that the matter will be heard in a fast track court and announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh.