Death for brutality on BPO girl
Mumbai, March 20: A driver and his accomplice have been sentenced to death for raping and murdering a call centre employee on her way to the night shift, the country’s first such ruling for a crime that exposed the risks the young face while heading to offices aligned to transcontinental time zones.
Jyotikumari Chaudhury, a 22-year-old employee of Wipro BPO Spectramind in Pune, was brutalised and killed on November 1, 2007, while she was being driven at 10.30pm to what would have been her last day at office.
The girl from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, who had resigned and was planning to take a break, was speaking to a friend on the phone when the line was cut off. Her brutalised body was found two days later in a paddy field.
The case has been termed “rarest of rare” — a classification required for the death sentence — by the Pune court which held the cab driver, Purshottam Borate, 28, and Pradeep Kokate, 23, guilty of rape, murder and conspiracy.
Principal district and sessions judge Anant Badar described the crime as “a pre-conceived one committed to satisfy lust”, concluding that the convicts deserved the death penalty.
The two pleaded for clemency on the ground that they were the only breadwinners of their families but the plea was rejected by the court, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.
The judge said “the collective conscience of the community is so shocked by the crime that imposing an alternative sentence, life imprisonment, on the accused would not meet the ends of justice. Rather, it would tempt other potential offenders to commit such crimes and get away with lesser punishment”.
The judge added that it was because of this crime that security of women working in BPOs came to the fore. He also referred to a survey that suggested only 2 per cent of the employees received in-house training in self-defence and safety.
The lawyer for the accused has said an appeal would be filed in the high court.
Nikam had sought the death sentence on five counts, stating that the two had committed the crime on a defenceless person without any provocation and shown depravity by the way the murder was committed.
The prosecution had no direct evidence such as eyewitnesses but relied heavily on circumstantial evidence, witnesses who saw the girl being picked up and heard her on the phone asking the driver why he had changed the route, and medical reports.
“We are hoping that this will be a landmark judgment in such cases. The judge has also said that such cases are on the rise and this should serve as a deterrent,” Jyoti’s relative Shishir Pundalik told The Telegraph from Pune.
“We did wish that the two should be given nothing less than the death sentence. There is no sense of euphoria or victory as the crime committed by them cannot be reversed. But there is certainly a sense of closure after the verdict,” Pundalik added.
Borate had picked up Jyoti from the house of her cousin where she was staying. “It was her last day at work as she was going to quit the company. The accused was fully aware of it and had premeditated the crime along with his friend,” Nikam said.
After picking her up, Borate told Jyoti that his friend would also be travelling with them. While Jyoti was talking on the phone with her friend — one of the 29 witnesses produced by the prosecution — Borate drove the car to a lonely stretch.
“They snatched the phone from her and raped her. They first slit the veins of her right hand, smashed her face with a big stone that fractured her skull and then strangled her. The murder was committed in the most gruesome manner, falling in the rarest of rare category,” Nikam said.
After the murder, Borate returned to the call centre to resume work and informed his supervisor that Jyoti was unwell and had not reported to work. “Borate also told his supervisor that he was late as his cab’s tyre was punctured,” Nikam had said in court.
The judge referred to this. “The accused, without showing any remorse or repentance for their actions, made up a false story. It is clear… they are incapable of rehabilitation.”