An Indian court handed down life sentences on Friday to three rapists who attacked a photographer and a call-center operator in an abandoned mill compound in the center of Mumbai.
Mohammed Salim Ansari, Vijay Mohan Jadhav and Mohammed Kasim Hafeez Shaikh were given the sentences a day after their conviction for the attacks in July and August last year that triggered worldwide headlines and reignited anger about women’s safety in India.
“This court has to take a stern view of crimes against women, so that a proper message is sent to society,” Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi told a packed hearing of the sessions court in south Mumbai.
The sentences handed down on Friday only relate to the gang-rape of the phone operator and the judge said that separate tariffs would be announced tomorrow for the assault on the photojournalist.
The men, sitting at the back of the courtroom and surrounded by police, looked down and wept as their sentences were read, while their relatives were heard crying.
A fourth man, Mohammed Ashwaq Sheikh, was also jailed for life in the telephone operator case, while another convicted in the photographer attack, Siraj Rehmat Khan, is expected to learn his fate tomorrow.
The five men were aged from 18 to 27 when arrested and a juvenile suspect is being separately tried.
The phone operator came forward after reading about the photographer’s ordeal in the same compound, which lies close to an upscale area of the city as well as slums.
Police described the photographer’s attackers as unemployed school drop-outs, while neighbors say they were a gang known for petty theft and drinking.
The case sparked anger in the city, which is usually considered safer than the capital, New Delhi, where an attack on a student in December 2012 sparked weeks of angry street protests about India’s treatment of women and led to tougher laws for rapists and other sex offenders.