Guwahati, Nov. 14: Sexually abused and brutally murdered six years ago, little Varun Shandillya got justice on Children’s Day today with a court sentencing his killer to death by hanging.
There was a buzz in the packed courtroom as Kamrup district and sessions judge Justice Dilip Kumar Debroy pronounced the long-awaited verdict against Anupam Das. The man in the dock stood rooted to the spot, expressionless. Das had pleaded for mercy moments earlier, saying he had a family to look after, including a three-year-old daughter.
Arundhati Shandillya, Varun’s mother, said it was appropriate that the verdict came on Children’s Day. “I know that Varun will never return. However, I hope exemplary punishment to the culprit will ensure the safety of other children in this city. I hope no mother goes through the trauma that I have been subjected to.”
Varun was murdered on January 22, 2000, which was to have been the day of a postponed birthday celebration. The 10-year-old boy’s birthday was January 17, but his parents decided to celebrate it a few days later because of school examinations.
Das committed the crime after taking Varun to his room in the commercial complex built by the victim’s father near their Zoo Road Tinali residence. It transpired that he was sexually assaulted before being killed. The police found pieces of the child’s limbs and body in a gunny bag and his severed head in a trunk under the bed in Das’s room. The machete used in the crime was found behind the ceiling.
Das was arrested the very day he committed the murder, but he escaped from judicial custody while being brought to the sessions court for a hearing on December 21, 2001. He was arrested again on May 14 this year at Paona Bazar in Imphal, where he had been living with his wife and child under a different name, that of Ajanta Rai.
Varun’s father Surajit Shandillya played a major role in putting Das, who hails from Sorbhog in Barpeta district, behind bars for the second time.
As many as 19 witnesses deposed in court during the trial, which resumed on October 30. Two more hearings were conducted on October 31 and November 1.
Justice Debroy held Das guilty of murder and concealment of evidence under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC. Throughout the 15 minutes that he was in the dock on the last day of the trial, Das looked calm and composed. He showed a little emotion only when making one last plea for mercy.
As he was being escorted out of the court, Das told the media that he was an “innocent” man. Defence counsel B.K. Bhagawati said Das would challenge the sessions court’s verdict in Gauhati High Court and, if required, move the Supreme Court.
Varun's father had the last word on a day his son would have enjoyed celebrating, just as children across the country did. “We are satisfied with the verdict. This man (Das) has forfeited all claims to life.”