Two get life term for student’s murder, Haryana govt to appeal in HC for death sentence

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Chandigarh, Mar 26 (PTI) A fast-track court in Haryana's Faridabad on Friday sentenced two men to life imprisonment for the murder of Nikita Tomar, five months after the 21-year old woman was shot outside her college.

Soon after the court pronounced the quantum of punishment, Haryana's Home Minister Anil Vij told PTI that the state government will file an appeal before the high court, seeking the death sentence for the two men.

Apart from awarding the life sentence to convicts Tausif and Rehan under section 302 (murder) and a fine of Rs 20,000, the court also sentenced them to five years’ imprisonment and Rs 2,000 as fine under section 366/34 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code, defence counsel Adal Singh Rawat said.

Tausif was also sentenced to four years in prison under the Arms Act. “All sentences will run concurrently,” he told PTI.

Faridabad Additional District and Sessions Judge Sartaj Baswana convicted the two men in the case on Wednesday, less than four months after the trial began on December 1. A third accused, Azharuddin, was acquitted.

Tausif was trying to force the student into marrying him, police had earlier said.

Amid outrage over the murder, which was caught on camera, Vij had linked it to “love jihad”, a reference to right-wing allegations that marriages are being used to fraudulently convert Hindu women.

In his reply to a calling attention motion on the murder, he told the state assembly in November 2020 that the government was planning to bring a Bill to tackle 'love jihad'.

Reacting to the court verdict, the minister said, “We will study the judgment. We will file an appeal before the high court so that the convicts get capital punishment.” Defence counsel Rawat said Nikita Tomar’s family will also file an appeal before the high court.

On October 26, the final-year B.Com student had stepped out of her college in Faridabad’s Ballabhgarh after an exam when Tausif confronted her, trying to force her into a car, police had said.

The two accused were later arrested on the basis of CCTV footage. The Faridabad police filed a 700-page chargesheet before the court on November 6.

Vij said the accused were arrested within 24 hours of the crime and the trial was quick.“The police filed chargesheet before the court in 11 days,” he said.

The victim's family had also been demanding capital punishment for the accused.

“There should be a strong deterrence so that no one else will dare to commit such a crime in future,” her father Moolchand Tomar had said earlier.

“We want the culprits hanged. Nikita sacrificed her life against love jihad,” he had said.

Azharuddin, who has been acquitted, was arrested on charges of supplying the illicit gun used in the crime. PTI SUN VSD SNE ASH ASH