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Life term for two rape convicts

Mangaldoi/Guwahati, June 19: Two persons, convicted in the gang rape of a primary school teacher in Assam’s Darrang district in October last year, were today sentenced to life imprisonment while the third accused was acquitted.

The court of Darrang district sessions judge P.J. Saikia also sentenced the two convicts, Samir Ali and Abdul Ali, to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each, failing which they would have to serve another six months’ jail. Besides, the court directed the Darrang district legal service authority (a repository of government compensation) to pay Rs 2 lakh compensation to the victim.

The 21-year-old teacher was waylaid and gang-raped while returning from school through Chikanmati tea estate on October 1 last year. The garden is 25km from Mangaldoi, the district headquarters, which is 90km from Guwahati.

The incident evoked massive protests in the district and raised concern about security of women teachers posted in the remote areas.

Four persons were arrested and a case was registered at Dalgaon police station. Trial began on December 23. The fourth accused was freed earlier by the additional chief judicial magistrate of Darrang, as there was no evidence of his involvement in the crime.

“I have considered all the relevant circumstances associated with the case and hereby sentence the two to undergo imprisonment for life. They are also sentenced to pay fine of Rs 50,000 each and in default of payment of the fine, both the convicts shall undergo further jail of six months. I am of the considered view that the victim is entitled to receive a compensation of Rs 2 lakh,” the court order said.

The court convicted the two accused under Section 376(2)(G) of the IPC.

Public prosecutor G.R. Baruah represented the victim while three lawyers, B.K. Ghosh, Mohammad Gias and A. Ali, appeared on behalf of the accused. The court order was welcomed by many organisations. They, however, expressed concern over the government’s failure to take steps on posting of women teachers.

After the incident, the state government had constituted a three-member committee to formulate a policy for transfer and posting of women school teachers to ensure their safety and congenial working conditions. However, sources said, the issue had not moved forward. “Only some women teachers in Darrang district were transferred following the strong protests there,” one of them said.