|Photo caption: An Indian doctor inspects the eye of injured schoolgirl Prabhjot as she undergoes treatment at The Guru Nanak Hospital in Amritsar on March 16, 2016, after an alleged acid attack in the northern Indian state of Punjab. Two young men are alleged to have attacked the sixteen year-old schoolgirl as she walked with classmates after taking a school examination in the village of Dharmabad some 48kms from Amritsar. (NARINDER NANU / AFP)|
NEW DELHI – In a landmark ruling, an Indian court has sentenced to death a 25-year-old man for a fatal acid attack on a woman in Mumbai three years ago.
The trial court in Mumbai Thursday ruled that Ankur Panwar must be hanged for the “rarest of the rare” crime, after convicting him of the acid attack on 23-year-old Preeti Rathi earlier this week.
This is the first such death sentence for an acid attack in India as experts say that many such attacks go unpunished in the country.
The incident dates back to 2013 when Rathi had just arrived in Mumbai from Delhi with her father to begin work as a nurse with the Indian Navy.
At a railway station in Mumbai, Panwar, who had followed his victim from Delhi on the same train.
Tapped Rathi on the shoulder and when she turned around, he flung acid at her.
After a month in hospital, Rathi died of her injuries as parts of her throat and lungs had been destroyed after she accidentally swallowed the acid sloshed across her face.
Panwar, who was the victim’s neighbour in the Indian capital, confessed to police in Mumbai after his arrest a year later that he was angry at Rathi as she had rejected her marriage proposal.
Amar Singh Rathi, the victim’s father, was very happy with the judgment. “He (Panwar) got what he deserved. There was no possibility of leniency for what he had done,” he told the media.
And a month after Rathi’s death, India’s Supreme Court ordered the central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid, saying it could only be sold to people carrying a valid identity card.
Though there are over 400 death row convicts in the country, according to some estimates, India hardly carries out executions, with two exceptions in recent years.
While Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive in 2008 Mumbai massacre, was hanged in 2013, fruitseller Afzal Guru was executed for 2001 Parliament attack in 2014.