MUMBAI: Hotel management graduate Ankur Lal Panwar (26) was on Thursday awarded capital punishment by a special women’s court here in the 2013 acid attack case where nurse Preeti Rathi died of multiple organ failure after suffering deep internal injuries when Panwar threw acid on her. The verdict is significant as most attackers receive a minor sentence.
Panwar was convicted on Tuesday on charges of murder and attempt to hurl acid on 23-year-old Rathi. He was her neighbour in Delhi and said he attacked her because she had rejected his proposal to marry him.
Special judge Anju Shende, after pronouncing the death penalty for the convict, translated it into Hindi for Panwar. However, Panwar did not show any signs of remorse and was seen smiling after the verdict was pronounced. There was a minor scuffle between the family members of Rathi and Panwar after the court rose for the day.
Preeti had just arrived from Delhi to join the Navy as a nurse when she was attacked on May 2, 2013, at the Bandra Railway Station here by Panwar. She died of multiple organ failure as she developed severe health complications after swallowing the acid which Panwar threw on her. The prosecution had sought the exemplary punishment for him saying acid attack is a crime against women and Panwar did not commit the crime on the spur of the moment but it was a pre-planned attack.
On Wednesday, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam termed the case fit for the death sentence, saying it falls in the rarest of the rare category, while Panwar’s lawyer Apeksha Vora had pleaded leniency for her client, citing his age, family background and lack of antecedents.
“If he is given a lesser punishment and released after completing the sentence, other girls would not be safe,” Nikam had submitted.
Objective of sentencing is to deter criminals and like-minded persons from committing such crimes, he had said.
The gruesome incident had set the local police on a wild chase as Panwar had covered his face at the time of the attack.
The Railway Police, who initially probed the case, had arrested another neighbour of Rathi, Pawankumar Gahalon, but freed him as there was no evidence against him.