Mumbai, Nov 29: The Ahmednagar District and Sessions court has awarded death sentence to all three convicts in the Kopardi gangrape and murder case. Three men – Jitendra Babulal Shinde, Santosh Gorakh Bhawal and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume – were convicted by the court on November 18. The high profile case trial started before the fast-track Special Court on December 20, 2016. (Here’s all about the horrific Kopardi case that shook Maharashtra)

A 15-year-old schoolgirl was brutally gangraped, mutilated and killed on July 13, 2016, at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. The Class 9 student, who belonged to the Maratha community, was out to fetch some spices from her grandmother’s home in the same village. The girl went missing for a few hours, after which her mutilated, blood-splattered body was found under a tree in a field.

During the argument on the quantum of punishment, Nitin Bhawal’s lawyer Balasaheb Khopade had pleaded that his client should not be given capital punishment. However, special public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam had argued that this was a “rarest of the rare case” and hence, the tree convicts should be awarded death sentence.

The case sparked off widespread condemnation and protests across the state with Maratha groups demanding capital punishment for the accused. It is this case that had triggered the Maratha Kranti Morcha. The Maratha community took to the streets to protests last year across various districts of Maharashtra such as Akola, Nanded, Beed, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Jalna districts. These protests were carried out for over a month.

The silent protests in Maharashtra in the past one year forced the government to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as a special public prosecutor and fast-track the case.