In a major development in the sensational Pari rape and murder case, the Nayagarh Children’s Court on Tuesday sentenced the prime accused to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. The Court has also imposed a fine of Rs 6000 on the accused who is a minor. He was arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Odisha government after the incident had created public outrage in the state.
As there were no eyewitnesses in the case, the Court gave the verdict after going through the circumstantial evidence and examination of over 31 witnesses.
Public prosecutor Chitaranjan Kanungo said, “The case could not be detected as the girl went missing on July 14 and her body was recovered some nine days after. As local police could not crack the case, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch and the SIT headed by IG Arun Bothra conducted the probe. As there was no direct evidence, taking the help of scientific and other psychological experts, a charge-sheet was filed.”
Kanungo further informed that during trial, 31 witnesses were examined in court and 135 exhibits and 18 material objects were submitted before the Court. Based on these, the Special Children Court Nayagarh sentenced the accused to 20 years RI under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, Sections 376, 302 of IPC, and three three-year jail term for kidnapping and destroying evidence.
Kanungo further informed that as the accused is a minor, capital punishment cannot be awarded.
Bijay Mishra, advocate of the accused said, “We are not happy over the judgment and we will move the High Court. The prosecution could not prove the allegations against my client including confession under the Evidence Act or leading to discovery under the Evidence Act. The motive has also not been proved. The prosecution had cooked up a story and the judgement has come based on it.”
In her reaction, the victim’s mother said, “I am not happy over the verdict. The real culprit has not been arrested. Babuli Nayak has killed my daughter and no one else is involved. We have not got justice. We have been telling this from the beginning and bringing allegations against Babuli Nayak. During the investigation, the investigating agency tried to falsely implicate others to save the then Minister Arun Sahoo.”
The victim’s mother further said “We do not have money or any other power. My daughter has been murdered and an innocent has been implicated. We will definitely raise our voice against the injustice. Even if the accused had confessed, we do not know what has happened. But it could be due to some threat or some other reason. The investigating agency did not listen to our grievances. We are poor and do not understand what to do next. We will cooperate if anyone comes forward to support us to take the battle to the next level.”
On July 14, 2020, the 5-year-old victim was reportedly abducted when she was playing outside her house in Jadupur village of Nayagarh district. Exactly ten days later, the minor girl’s skeletal remains and chopped body parts, were found dumped in the backyard of the house.