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Maharashtra tribal lady’s rape-murder: Prison lawyer Ujjwal Nikam named prosecutor

One day after outrage over the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 3-year-old tribal girl, the state government appointed criminal defense attorney Ujjwal Nikam as special prosecutor in the case on Thursday.

The Minister of State for Interior Shamburaj Desai, who rushed to Pen town in Raigad, announced this after examining the situation on the ground and holding discussions with the district police and civil authorities.

“The case will be sent to an express court and Ujjwal Nikam has been named SPP,” Desai informed the media.

Townspeople in Pen and the surrounding villages spontaneously closed for the second day in a row and held processions to the local police station and hospital to seek the death penalty for the accused.

Defendant Aadesh M. Patil, 32, who was arrested on Wednesday, is being held in police custody under tight security in the face of public anger and condemnation from various quarters.

Council opposition leader Pravin Darekar visited Pen and met the distraught family members of the victim and called for justice for them.

Similarly, senior Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, BJP women’s wing leader Chitra Wagh, prominent women’s activist Vaishali Patil, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Trupti Desai, and others have strongly condemned the incident and called for the accused to be sentenced to death .

Defendant Patil had previously been convicted of a rape case and was sentenced in Alibaug Prison, but had recently received parole.

It should be remembered that at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday he spotted the little girl sleeping near her parents in the small tribal village of Vadgaon on the outskirts of Pen.

Patil picked up the girl, ran to a nearby remote location, raped and killed her, and was in the process of disposing of her body at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

However, a search party with their parents reached him and when they spotted him, he panicked and fled under cover of darkness.

Hours later, around noon (December 30), a police team managed to get the probation officer out of hiding and bring him to Pen.

He has been booked on another rape, kidnapping, murder and other charges under the Indian Criminal Code, as well as additional charges under the Child Protection from Sexual Offenses Act.

Official sources indicate that the case would be handled under the terms of the recently approved Shakti Act, which, in addition to speeding up the investigation and process, provides for the death penalty and heavy fines for rape.

The Shakti law, presented during the budget session before the Maharashtra legislature, has also proposed changes to the CrPC by shortening the investigation period from 60 to 15 working days, the process period from 60 to 30 working days, and reducing the appeal period from 180 up to 45 days.

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