After a protracted legal battle over his age, a fast track court here on Monday awarded 10 years imprisonment to Gaurav Shukla, projected as the ‘main’ accused in the 2005 Ashiana gang rape case, in which a teenage girl was brutally raped and tortured with burning cigarette stubs in a moving vehicle for several hours.
Nephew of alleged don-turned-politician and former Samajwadi Party MLA Arun Kumar ‘Anna’ Shukla, Gaurav evaded trial and roamed free for much of the last decade, claiming that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime.
The Juvenile Justice Board however, ruled in 2014 that he was not a minor at the time of the crime. The Supreme Court rejected his review petition in March. On April 13, Additional District Judge Anil Kumar Shukla convicted Gaurav Shukla.
The rape survivor, the daughter of a rag picker, however, was bitter and furious at the verdict as she recalled the brutality inflicted on her and the trauma that followed. “He [Gaurav] was the main perpetrator. How can I be satisfied with the verdict,” she asked.
Madhu Garg, Uttar Pradesh president of the AIDWA, who supported her fight for justice, said they would approach the High Court for enhancement of punishment.
On May 2, 2005, the girl who was then 13 years old and working as a domestic help, was returning home with her brother when she was dragged into a car by four youths, who assaulted her and raped her in the vehicle for almost five hours in the State Capital. On the way, two other youths joined them. She was raped again and left near a bridge in Daliganj.
Of the six accused in the case, Aman Bakshi and Bharatendu Shukla were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007; in 2013, Faizan was sentenced for life for kidnapping but not charged with rape. Two other accused, who were juveniles — Saurabh Jain and Asif Siddiqui — died in an accident during the trial.
With the support of a few women’s organisations, the girl completed high school last year.