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Ankur Panwar to appeal against death sentence

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“One must ask her father, maternal uncle where was I when the incident occurred”

Dressed in pink shirt and grey trousers, Ankur Panwar (26), pronounced guilty on Tuesday in the death after an acid-throwing attack, of Preeti Rathi, stared in disbelief when the special women’s court read out the sentence that he should be “hanged by the neck till he is dead, subject to confirmation by the Bombay High Court.” The courtroom witnessed a rare sight: a police constable offering water to a convict after a death sentence was pronounced. Minutes later, Panwar was surrounded by cops as some unidentified people, believed to be close to Preeti tried to confront him.

Later, seated outside the court, two constables tried to calm Panwar down and brought him vada-pav and tea as he had not eaten anything since morning. He was alone because his family was not with him. “One must ask (Preeti’s) father and maternal uncle where was I when the incident occurred,” he said. “They have seen me grow up in the same neighbourhood. Couldn’t they identify me? The perpetrator’s face was masked, but couldn’t they recognise my physique, my gait?”

After he graduated in hotel management in Bhubaneswar, Panwar had come to Delhi on April 27, 2013, a week before the acid attack in Mumbai. With tears in his eyes, but anger in his voice, he continued, “When (Preeti’s) body was brought to her house, I was serving tea to the guests. Can someone confirm this to the maternal uncle?”

Panwar’s mother was present in the court on Tuesday when the court convicted him. She had told The Hindu: “Preeti was like our daughter. All these kids grew up together. Panwar respected her and would never think of loving her, forget hurting her in such a brutal manner.” She could not be present in the court on Thursday when her son was given the death sentence as she fell sick and had to go back home.

When contacted, Panwar’s sister said over the phone from Delhi: “We all want justice for Preeti, but that cannot be achieved by putting an innocent man behind bars. We will surely move the High Court against this sentence and will make sure we produce all evidence to make his case strong.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:12:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/Ankur-Panwar-to-appeal-against-death-sentence/article14628913.ece

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