M A I N   N E W S

Death penalty for Leh rape, murder
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 19
Even as the entire nation is enraged over the Delhi gang rape case and demanding capital punishment for the accused, a Leh court has awarded death penalty to an accused convicted of rape and murder.

The death sentence was announced by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Leh, in a case involving rape and subsequent murder of a Ladakhi shepherd woman by the accused Sonam Dorjay in August 2002.

“Dorjay has been convicted by my court on two charges involving rape (Section 376) and murder (302) of a woman 10 years ago”, said Principal District and Sessions Judge, Leh, Sanjay Parihar, who pronounced the verdict last week.

Parihar said the case falls in the “rarest of rare” category as the convict had brutally murdered the woman, who was twice his age.

Convict Sonam Dorjay, hailing from the Khardungla area of Ladakh, was 30 when he raped and murdered the 60-year-old woman in 2002.

The prosecution had submitted in the court that Dorjay had “mercilessly raped” the old woman after she allowed him an overnight stay at her room in Danglas village near Khardungla, 10 km from Leh town.

“She looked upon him as her son. But when Dorjay got a chance, he raped her and later strangulated her to death using a cloth string. He then threw her body on the road,” Parihar said.

When the body of the 60-year-old victim was discovered by the locals, she was found half naked. Her clothes were torn. The entire Ladakh region had felt enraged at the incident, where the crime rate is very low.

That she was raped before being murdered was also confirmed by the doctors who had conducted her autopsy. “The doctors who examined her said she was raped antemortem, which conclusively established the guilt of Dorjay,” Parihar said.

Dorjay, who was an Army deserter, had taken the job of a professional shepherd. The victim was also a shepherd and the locals used to hire them for rearing their livestock, including yaks and pashmina goats.

Dorjay is currently lodged at District Jail in Leh, where he is already undergoing life sentence in a separate case involving the murder of a couple. “I had also convicted him earlier for the murder of a couple,” the Judge said. The case file has now been sent to the J&K High Court for confirmation of the death sentence.





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