New Delhi, Aug 21: A local court in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday awarded death sentence to the two accused of raping an eight-year-old girl in Mandsaur district, news agency ANI reported. Special Judge Nisha Gupta held Irfan alias Bhaiyu (20) and Asif (24) guilty and sentenced them to death under the newly-introduced IPC section 376DB (punishment for rape of a woman under 12 years of age by one or more persons), public prosecutor B S Thakur said.

Earlier in the day, the court held the two men guilty under relevant sections.  On June 26, the eight-year-old girl was abducted from her school in Hafiz Colony and was allegedly gang-raped at her house in Mandsaur. The accused had also tried to kill her by slitting her throat.

The minor, who suffered severe injuries to her neck, face, head and private parts in the incident, is undergoing treatment in Indore. Relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act were invoked against the accused. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had condemned the incident and said that rapists were a “burden on the earth” and did not deserve to live.

In July, the police had filed a 350-page charge sheet against Irfan and Asif. The charge-sheet had named 92 witnesses and listed over 100 pieces of evidence against the two accused. In April, the state Cabinet had approved an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The ordinance recommended the death penalty for those accused of raping children below the age of 12 and stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years age and below 12 years of age.

In case of the rape of a girl under 16 years, the Union Cabinet has increased minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment while, in case of rape of a girl under 12 years of age, the minimum punishment of 20 years imprisonment or life imprisonment has been provided in the Ordinance.

The decision had come in the wake of rising public anger and protests against the sudden increase in rapes of minors. In January, an eight-year-old girl from Kathua area in Jammu and Kashmir was kidnapped, drugged, gang-raped and murdered. She was allegedly held captive and raped in a Devisthan (literally a goddess’ place) by one Sanjhi Ram.

(With PTI inputs)