Patan comes to a standstill to witness verdict

Patan, Mar 7 :  The north Gujarat town of Patan , on Friday, pulled down shutters, and the dusty roads began milling with curious crowds and unprecedented police bandobast. The town was awaiting the judgment in a case it wished it never had.

Barely a year ago, the alleged gangrape of a Dalit student for six months by her six teachers at the Primary Teacher’s College here, had rocked the state.

A specially constituted court, with a lady judge, pronounced the verdict to a jampacked court on Friday.
People from across the town were present, except for the victim and her family, who chose to remain in their simple mud brick home 30 km away, in Jetalvasna College.

Patan, which is also the home constituency of Revenue Minister Anandi Patel, who at the time of the infamous incident, was the education minister, milled with curious onlookers, media persons and the police, tensed — raring to prevent the mob from assaulting the accused teachers.

In Patan, shopkeepers selling tea, eatables and cold drinks and water pouches, remained the happiest lot, for they had never seen such rush on a hot summer afternoon as this.

People lined up on the roads and speculated, as the court started the proceedings at 3 pm. Anxious relatives of the six accused teachers — including their wives — continued to berate the media for stepping up the campaign, which had pressurised the state government to take action in the case.

The Patan court premises had never witnessed a crowd like this Friday.

As soon as the court held all the accused guilty, some of the relatives started expressing their anguish over the verdict.

But most vocal of the lot were the wife and mother-in-law of main accused Ashwin Parmar.

“The court has believed what the 18-year-old girl has said, but it has not relied upon the statement of a father of two children,” Parmar’s wife said.

Patan Gangrape Timeline

* January 31, 2008: The victim faints in the prayer hall at DIET PTC and is taken to a doctor. Gangrape confirmed.
* February 4, 2008: College girls complain to the college authorities about the accused teachers. When no action is taken against them, the girls and their parents vandalise the college and attack the accused. FIR registered following the ruckus.
* February 6, 2008: State government orders a magisterial inquiry into the matter. Chief Minister Narendra Modi condemns the act and offers a reward of Rs 1 lakh to the victim for showing courage by exposing the culprits. The National Commission for Women visits Patan, forms a four-member inquiry committee.
* April 4, 2008: Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma expresses concern over the delay in filing a chargesheet by CID (Crime); asks for the case to be tried by a fast track court.
* April 11, 2008: CID (Crime) files chargesheet before a judicial magistrate in Patan. Case committed to fast track court for trial.
* May6, 2008: Trial starts at Patan Fast Track Court.
* May 28, 2008: State government appoints Nayana Bhatt as special public prosecutor upon the victim’s request.
* June 23, 2008: Victim’s result for first year examination declared and she scores 84.94 per cent.
* June 25, 2008: A teacher at DIET PTC finds the draft of a suicide note in a book of the victim. Her custody is handed over to her father.
* June 26, 2008: The girl walks out of her father’s house and goes to the Visnagar police Station. A Mehsana court awards her custody to Navsarjan Trust.
* June 28, 2008: The girl collapses at the Navsarjan office after meeting her parents, and is hospitalised.
* July 10, 2008: Defence counsel seeks different chargesheets for different events in the case. Gujarat High Court dismisses plea.
* March 6, 2009: The fast track court awards life imprisonment to the accused.