The Thane police on Tuesday arrested a 16-year-old and his three accomplices near Kalyan for murdering and then raping a of a 22-year-old engineering graduate at her residence on 14 April.
According to Mid Day, the accused, identified as Nitin Wagh (19), Nitesh alias Nitya Bhagwan Bhoir (20) and Ravindra alias Ravi Wagh (20), and their 16-year-old leader, are tribals from Bandarpada in Kalyan.
The victim, who had recently appeared for the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) exam, was sleeping in the hall when the accused broke in through the kitchen window. When she tried to raise an alarm, the 16-year-old allegedly struck her on the head with a sword, a move that proved fatal for the victim, reported Mumbai Mirror.
It is alleged that they even raped her corpse before decamping with the victim's laptop, cellphone and jewellery.
The gang had begun their criminal lives with minor thefts, before moving on to more serious crimes. The Asian Age reported that a few months ago, the youngsters had formed a gang to snatch cellphones.
"Apparently, the 16-year-old boy became a gang leader by taking initiative while breaking into houses or attacking victims. According to sources, he did not think twice, which gave confidence to the other gang members," DNA quoted a Thane crime branch officer as saying.
Even though the gang leader is a minor, the police want him to be tried as an adult. According to The Times of India, Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said that they will request the court to try him as an adult because of the gravity of the crime and the reign of terror the gang had unleashed in the Shahad-Kalyan belt.
This is the first time since the amendment of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in 2015 that the police are set to seek the trial of a minor as an an adult.
Section 18 (3) of the amended law empowers the board to try a child as an adult if he/she has committed a serious offence.