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6 convicted in gang-rape case

Shillong, March 20: In what can be termed as an illustration of speedy delivery of justice, the fast-track court in Tura in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district today convicted six of the 16 people who were arrested in connection with the December 13, 2012, Williamnagar gang-rape case.

Public prosecutor P.L. Sebastian said the court convicted Laston Marak, Tobath Sangma alias Patrick, Platon C. Marak, Chengchow D. Sangma, Kisen N. Marak and Chingkam Ch. Marak alias Chiong, all in the age group 18-20 years. They will be sentenced on Monday.

The others will be dealt with by the Juvenile Justice Board in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills.

Sebastian said the court convicted the six persons under Sections 376 2G (gang rape), 323 (causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) to be read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC. Under Section 376 2G, those convicted will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to a fine.

The victim, who was around 17 years of age at the time of the incident, was going home with two female friends on the night of December 13, 2012, from the Simsang festival venue in Williamnagar when she was allegedly gang-raped near Sacred Heart School after she fell down while trying to run. Her friends, however, managed to flee.

Initially, the case was dealt with the court of the additional district magistrate, Williamnagar. But on March 4, 2013, it was transferred to the fast-track court in Tura.

In the initial months after the incident surfaced, there were reports suggesting that the victim had to be shifted from Williamnagar to Tura following complaints from the girl’s parents that the family members of the accused used to taunt her.

The president of Civil Society Women’s Organisation, Agnes Kharshiing, who has been pursuing the case for the victim, termed the conviction as a ray of hope for women and children.

“This is very good news. It brings hope for women and children who have been longing for justice. It also shows that there is still hope with the judiciary. We expect more convictions like these,” she said.

Stating that the conviction was one of the fastest in Meghalaya, she said the police investigation team and the government prosecutor deserved credit for a job well done.

“If someone is dedicated to the job, they can give justice to the victim because even if the case is fast-tracked, there wouldn’t have been a conviction had there been no team work and dedication,” she added.