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A fast-track court in Telangana’s Adilabad has awarded death sentence to three in the gangrape and murder case of ‘Samatha’ – a Dalit girl from the marginalized Budagajangam community.

The court judgment was delayed by a few weeks due to fervent pleas from the accused on sentencing as they had young families to take care of.

Earlier, Samatha’s husband had said, “We strongly believe that the court will give justice to us as it heard the case thoroughly in the last two months. Those three should be given death penalty, as they tortured and killed her.”

The victim was a street hawker, selling cosmetics and petty items. She was found dead on November 24, 2019, throat-slit in a village in Lingala Mandal of Asifabad district. The police had arrested Shaik Babu, Shaik Shabuddin and Shaik Makdum and booked them for gangrape, murder and offences under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

After her death, protests erupted in Asifabad and parts of erstwhile Adilabad. Activists alleged that the government had ignored delivering justice to the victim since she belonged to a Dalit community.

Following widespread protests, the Telangana government set up a special court in Adilabad in December 2019, where the trial began. The state government also offered Samata’s husband a job as an attendant at the state-run Social Welfare Hostel.

— India Legal Bureau

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