A court in Kerala on Tuesday sentenced to death the man convicted in the horrific Aluva child rape and murder case. Special POCSO (Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences) court judge K Soman directed that convict Ashwaq Alam be hanged to death for killing a 5-year-old girl from Bihar, public prosecutor (PP) G Mohanraj said.
The death sentence would be carried out after confirmation by the Kerala High Court, the prosecutor said.
Giving details of the sentences given to Alam, a migrant labourer from Bihar, the prosecutor told the media outside the court that the convict was given five life terms for the various offences of rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act.
The court ordered that the life term would mean the convict should stay in prison for the rest of his natural life, the PP said.
The court also imposed a fine of over Rs six lakh on the convict, he said, and expressed satisfaction with the sentence.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the punishment given in the case on Children’s Day should be seen as a strong warning to those who commit violence against children.
The chief minister said that the child fell victim to the most heinous crime and therefore, the entire criminal justice system worked efficiently to catch the culprit and ensure the maximum punishment for him.
Mr Vijayan said that while nothing can replace the loss suffered by the parents, the government has assured all kinds of help to them.
ADGP (Law and Order) M R Ajith Kumar also welcomed the sentence given to the convict.
Speaking to reporters outside the court after the sentence was pronounced, the ADGP said it was a case which shocked the conscience of Kerala and the government right from the start was determined to ensure the maximum possible punishment for the accused.
“It is one of the rarest-of-rare cases and the prosecution was able to prove that successfully. The probe was completed in 30 days. The accused was convicted on the 100th day after the incident and today marks the 110th day. This indicates the robustness of the criminal justice system,” the officer said.
State Health Minister Veena George also welcomed the verdict and said it would send out a strong message to society that children should not be harmed.
“We all had hoped for the maximum punishment and the court gave that,” she told reporters.
The minister appreciated that the probe and the trial were completed in “record time”.
She also said that society needs to be aware of the rights of children and protect them.
Meanwhile, one of the eyewitnesses in the case who had seen Alam walking away with the child on that fateful day, was overjoyed with the punishment given to the convict and distributed candy to people.
“The little girl’s soul will now attain peace,” he told reporters.
The sentence was pronounced on a date celebrated as Children’s Day across the country.
The date also marks the 11th anniversary of the POCSO Act, which came into effect on November 14, 2012.
The victim’s parents were present in court when the punishment was given to Alam, who was convicted on November 4.
The prosecution had argued that the case falls under the rarest-of-rare category and therefore, the death penalty should be given to the convict.
During arguments on sentence, Alam had claimed in court that the other accused were let go and only he was caught in the case and, beyond that, he did not make any other submission, the prosecution had said.
The court had found Alam guilty of all 16 offences in the charge sheet.
Of the 16, five offences are punishable by death, the prosecution had said earlier.
The minor girl was brutally raped and strangled on July 28 after she was abducted from her rented house here.
The body of the girl was found dumped in a stack in a marshy area behind a local market in nearby Aluva and the accused was arrested based on CCTV visuals.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)