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Pallavi Purkayastha's murderer arrested: Sajjad Mughal's escape from Mumbai led to change in parole rules

After being untraceable for two years, Sajjad Mughal, the security guard, who had confessed to the killing of Pallavi Purkayastha, a lawyer in Mumbai in 2012 has been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir. Mughal, who had escaped earlier, was finally arrested by the crime branch of the Mumbai Police on the Leh-Srinagar Highway on Tuesday, reports said.

He was sentenced to life in jail in 2014, two years after he confessed to the murder, according to NDTV. He was incarcerated in a jail in Nashik from where he left in March 2016 on parole to visit his unwell mother. However, he never returned. After his escape, the Maharashtra government had decided that rapists and murderers would no longer be granted parole and the number of days of parole was reduced from 90 to 46 days. The jail officer who recommended parole for Mughal was suspended.

Victim was stabbed to death in Wadala

Purkayastha was found in a pool of blood at her rented flat in Himalayan Heights building in Wadala in Mumbai by her live-in partner Avik Sengupta.

"Pallavi's body has multiple stab injuries. The scene of crime indicates she struggled to save herself. When Avik returned home this morning at around 5.30 am, he found that the door was slightly opened... he went inside and found the blood-soaked body of Pallavi with the throat slit, following which he informed the police," the police had said.

Mughal was a security guard at her building and had deliberately tripped the power twice that night. He had then stolen the keys from Purkayastha's apartment when the electrician came to fix the problem. He had bought a knife 15 days prior to the crime and had told other building staff that he planned to scare Pallavi and rape her.

File image of Pallavi Purkayastha. Image courtesy: Facebook profile.

File image of Pallavi Purkayastha. Image courtesy: Facebook profile.

He had planned the crime in advance as the intercom of the flat was not working and the four CCTV cameras were deactivated on the morning of the crime. He confessed that his intent was not to murder, but rather to rape the 25-year old. When she aggressively fought back, he used a knife to slash her throat. He was subsequently charged with murder, molestation and trespassing.

The Indian Express had quoted unnamed police officials who had said that he murdered her after she resisted his advances. Purkayastha had reportedly tried to escape and bloodstains were found at multiple locations in the house. She had even rung her neighbour's doorbell multiple times but no one answered, the report stated.

Mughal was arrested at the Mumbai Central railway terminus the evening after Purkayastha's body was found, before he could catch a train to Surat from where he had planned to flee to Jammu and Kashmir.

The police found that Mughal's employers, Ahmed Hamid Enterprises, a private security firm, did not have his complete address. This prompted the requirement for stringent documentation of security guards hired by private firms.

Purkayastha's death led to the establishment of 'Men Against Rape and Discrimination’ or MARD

A year after Purkayastha's death, her live-in partner Sengupta succumbed to inflammatory brain disorder. Sengupta was a senior associate with a law firm at Ballard Estate. Police officials probing the murder said that Sengupta was suffering from severe depression.

Purkayastha worked as an advocate for Excel Entertainment Pvt Ltd. Her parents are both IAS officials. A graduate of Pune's ILS Law College, she was remembered by her colleagues as an independent, hardworking and strong-willed girl who was dedicated to her work.

Her murder inspired Farhan Akhtar, the owner of Excel Entertainment, to start ‘Men Against Rape and Discrimination’ or MARD in 2013. The social campaign has since gained tremendous support from popular celebrities.

The victim's father Atanu Purkayastha while writing for The Indian Express in 2016 had asked for changes in the legal system to stop crimes against women. He had further said:

"We must show courage of conviction in stopping crimes against women by taking drastic and severe actions against perpetrators. Legal provisions have to be more specific so that judicial nuances do not come in the way of awarding stringent punishment or delay judicial interventions. The fear of law has to be seen and felt. There is a need to detoxify society from crime against women by sensitising children in the school.... Policymakers, administrators, judiciary, educationists and all others need to act in unison to ensure zero tolerance of crime against women."

The Huffington Post had criticised the judgment of sessions judge which had said, "when the accused saw Pallavi in scanty clothes, he was sexually excited... therefore aggravating fact of pre-planning is not there." The article had opined that courts of law should not only ensure that justice is done but also send out a strong message to society that crimes like this will not be tolerated.... Courts should be empathetic to victims and their loved ones so that they do not have to endure agony repeatedly.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 11, 2017 13:17 PM

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