Mumbai, September 8: On Thursday afternoon Mumbai’s session court judge sentenced convict Ankur Pawar to death in the infamous Preeti Rathi acid attack case. Ankur Panwar a 25-year-old stalker was arrested a year after Preeti Rathi succumbed to acid  injuries. In India, it is the first incident when a court has awarded capital punishment  to an offender involved in an acid attack. Ankur Panwar was convicted under Sections 302  (murder) and 326B (Voluntarily throwing acid) of the IPC. Rathi a Delhi based girl who arrived in Mumbai for a nursing job with the Ministry of Defence at the INHS Asvini Hospital died of multiple organ failures after her neighbour Panwar threw acid on her in May 2013. According to police, Panwar a jealous neighbour followed Preeti Rathi, to Mumbai and attacked her at on Bandra Terminus platform on May 2, 2013. (Also Read: Ankur Lal Panwar sentenced to death in Preeti Rathi acid attack case)

Preeti Rathi came to Mumbai for nursing job

Preeti Rathi was a young and ambitious girl who was shortlisted for a nursing internship  with Indian Navy. It was Preeti Rathi’s first day in Western Mumbai and few minutes after she started taking a walk at Bandra Terminus, 4 number platform, she was attacked by acid. The case shook Mumbai and became a sensational one as Government Railway Police officials were unable to solve it for more than a year. The case was solved when it was transferred from GRP to Crime Branch officials. After the arrest, it was discovered that Panwar had thrown acid on Preeti’s face as he was jealous of her career growth and the fact that she had secured a nursing job with the Ministry of Defence at the INHS Asvini Hospital.

Prosecution demanded capital punishment for Ankur Panwar

The prosecution had demanded capital punishment for Ankur Panwar, describing the act committed by him as gruesome, merciless and pre-planned. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said to the court, “If he is given a lesser punishment and if he is released after completing the sentence, other girls would not be safe”. He further argued that “The court would be failing in its duty if just and appropriate punishment was not awarded to the convict”.

According to police, Panwar grew jealous of Preeti who moved to Mumbai to pursue a career at Indian defence. It is quite noteworthy that it is the first acid attack case in which the convict has been awarded capital punishment.

Crucial witnesses in the case

As soon as the judge pronounced his verdict today, Panwar stood up in anger and reportedly said, “I had said that the case should be handed over to CBI”. His family maintained his innocence and said that Panwar was framed by police officials.

In last one year, the prosecution had examined 37 witnesses during the trial. Out of whom three have identified Ankur from the acid attack, even though he had tied handkerchief across his face. Pankaj Malve an agent from Bandra terminus saw hi stepping out of the train. Later when Panwar fled from the crime scene the handkerchief slipped from his face and he was spotted by two more witnesses – Sameer Shaikh and Salim Shaikh.

Meanwhile, Ankur’s mother has declared that she will now go for another legal battle and will sit outside the office of the union Minister of Home Affairs in New Delhi, until a fresh investigation is initiated in the case.

Timeline 

May 2, 2013: Preeti Rathi attacked at Bandra Terminus and suffers 12-15 per cent severe burn injuries on her face, neck, arms and deep internal injuries in her throat, as she had swallowed acid.

May 8, 2013: Government Railway Police arrests Pawan Gahlan from Narela, New Delhi.

May 19, 2013: Her condition deteriorates, a feeding tube is attached to Preeti’s stomach.

May 22, 2013: Due to pneumonitis her right lung collapses.

May 31, 2013: Preeti’s kidney stops functioning.

June 1, 2013: Preeti dies of multiple organ failure and cardio-respiratory arrest.

June 3, 2013: Preeti is cremated, after a day-long protest by her father. Her father was unhappy with the investigation and requested a CBI enquiry. Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil extended a compensation od Rs 2 lakh and assured that a CBI probe will be conducted into the murder.

August 2, 2013: Preeti’s father files a petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking CBI inquiry into the case.

August 9, 2013: Bombay High Court grants bail to Gahlan, observing that cops had arrested him on the basis of suspicion.

November 28, 2013: Bombay High Court transfers the probe to Mumbai police.

January 2, 2014: After 45 days case is transferred to Mumbai Crime Branch, Ankur Panwar a neighbour of the victim was arrested.

April 4, 2014: 90-days after the arrest of Ankur Panwar a charge sheet of 1,332 pages filed by Crime Branch.

August 10, 2016: Final arguments completed in the trial.

September 7, 2016: Ankur Panwar convicted for the murder of Preeti Rathi by Mumbai sessions court judge.

September 8, 2016: Mumbai’s session court judge sentenced convict Ankur Pawar to death.