On Monday, August 14, the POCSO court in the Lakhimpur Kheri district announced the quantum of punishment to all four convicted in the rape and murder of 2022 murder case of two Dalit sisters in Uttar Pradesh. Junaid and Chhotu were handed over life imprisonment and two others namely Arif and Karumuddun were awarded six years in jail.
Speaking to the media, public prosecutor Brijesh Kumar Pandey informed that the court has also imposed a penalty of Rs 46,000 each on Junaid and Chhotu and Rs 5,000 each on the other two convicts. “The crimes committed by these convicts fall under rare crimes,” he said.
Two minor Dalit sisters were abducted, raped and killed in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri district in September last year. 11-months on, a local POCSO court sentenced to life Junaid and Sunil. Two other accused- Karimuddin and Aarif- convicted under IPC section 201 have been awarded 6… pic.twitter.com/uj4aEViYwW
— Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) August 14, 2023
Punishment for the other two accused – Hafizur Rahman (15) and Suhail (17.5) – will be adjudicated later.
Notably, on August 11, 2023, the four accused were found guilty by the dedicated court, which had been established in the Lakhimpur Kheri district to handle POCSO cases after a trial that lasted for 10 months and 27 days. During this process, testimony of 15 people including family members was taken, 24 documentary evidences as well as 40 physical evidences were handed over to the court. Post mortem report, age certificate, clothes of both the sisters were included as evidence. Based on the evidences and testimonies presented, the court had, in a 126 page judgment, convicted the four accused and set today (August 14) as the date for the next hearing, at which it would have declared the quantum of punishment.
The tragic incident took place within the jurisdiction of the Nighasan police station on September 14, 2022. In response, the district police formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct a thorough probe. The case was registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, along with pertinent sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
After hearing witnesses, special judge Rahul Singh found, Junaid and Chhotu guilty under sections 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 452 (house trespass), 376DA (gang-raping a woman under 16), 364 (outraging modesty), 201 (disappearance of evidence of offence) of the IPC along with relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Aarif and Karimuddin were found guilty of destroying evidence under section 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Rape and murder of two Dalit girls in Lakhimpur Kheri
Earlier last year, the horrifying rape and murder of two Dalit sisters sent tremors throughout the country. The Uttar Pradesh Police later arrested six persons named Junaid, Sohail, Arif, Hafiz, Karimuddin and Chhotu (Gautam) for sexually assaulting two minor Dalit girls and brutally murdering them in the Lakhimpur Kheri area of Uttar Pradesh. The police officer investigating the case said that the accused Junaid was shot in his leg when he tried to run away during his arrest.
It was reported that two accused, including Junaid, had dragged the two Dalit girls aged 15 and 17 to a nearby sugarcane field and brutally raped them. The girls were later murdered by three men and hanged on a tree with their dupattas after they forced the boys to marry them.
The police had earlier stated that after the three men murdered the girls, they called two more men, Karimuddin and Arif. Now the five men, in a bid to destroy evidence, hanged the girls.
Five accused except Chhotu hailed from Lalpur village while Chhotu was the neighbour of the two girls. Accused booked u/s IPC 302, 376 & POCSO Act.