PUDUKKOTTAI: The Pudukkottai Mahila Court on Tuesday awarded a triple death sentence and rigorous imprisonment for life to the accused for the sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old Dalit girl in Embal on June 30 this year.
Justice Sathya also slapped the accused, 25-year-old Samivel aka Raja, with a fine of Rs 10,000 and ordered a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the victim's mother. The verdict came less than four months after the charge sheet was filed on September 1.
The child, who had gone missing from her home on June 30, was found dead in a pond near her house in torn clothes with multiple bruises on her body on July 1. Raja, her neighbour, was booked under multiple sections of the POCSO act and arrested on July 2. According to the police, Raja, a flower vendor, had followed the child when she went out to play that evening. He attempted to rape her but as she resisted and screamed, he killed her. Police said he confessed to the murder.
Weeks after he was arrested, Raja escaped from police custody when he was taken to the Pudukkottai Medical College Hospital on July 16. Two policemen were suspended and six special teams had to be formed to find the accused. Once he was found, Raja was also charged with resistance during his lawful apprehension.
The case was investigated by Aranthangi deputy superintendent of police Jayaseelan and chargesheet was filed on September 1. The hearings in the case, in which 24 witnesses were listed, began in the special court on September 11. On Tuesday, Raja was brought to the court amid heavy posse of police led by the Pudukkottai SP L Balaji Saravanan.
The sexual assault and murder of the child had sparked massive outrage in the State with the family and villagers demanding speedy justice. The incident again raised questions over the safety of women and children in Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who expressed shock over the incident, had assured stern action. DMK president MK Stalin and other opposition leaders also condemned the incident. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh from the Chief Minister's fund and Rs 4,12,500 under the SC/ST Act 1989 was given to the child’s parents.