Two acquitted for want of evidence
Nagpur: Nagpur city shook with the murder of a young engineering student Monica Kirnapure on March 11, 2011 because of a mistaken identity. Citizens of Nagpur had displayed a rare solidarity in protesting and seeking justice for Monica Kirnapure. The trial of Monika murder case started after the police filed a charge sheet of 750 pages on June 9, 2011.
Government Prosecutor Advocate Ujwal Nikam had demanded that the accused be hanged to death. He argued for a long time and explained how this is one of the rarest of the rare case and so the accused should be hanged. Advocate Ujwal Nikam presented the murder case well and claimed that the main accused who was a teacher has earned ill-repute to the profession. However, Advocate Sudhip Jaiswal who was representing the accused while negating the claims said that everyday there are hundreds of murders and nearly 400 murders are already registered. If that is the case, how can this case be a rarest of the rare?
Advocate Jaiswal argued that these accused are not history sheeters on whom many cases are registered.
However, Additional Sessions Judge Justice M W Chandwani while sentencing the accused, sentenced the main accused who murdered the victim Monica Kirnapure and the accused who had given supari to kill his former lover and the accused who had aided the accused sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment. The accused who were sentenced include:
- Kunal Jaiswal
- Pradeep Sahare
- Shrikant Sonekar and
- Umesh Marathe
While two others identified as Rameshwar Sonekar and Gita Maldure who had aided the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Additional Sessions Judge Justice M W Chandwani has fined the main accused a sum of Rupees One lakhs to be given to the family of the victim. He also has directed the other accused to deposit a sum of Rupees five thousand each.
The mother of the victim Monica Kirnapure claimed that they are not happy with the sentence. Only a sentence of hanging would have consoled us. The family members claimed that they will appeal in the High Court to demand a sentence of hanging the accused.
The unfortunate murder case in detail
The 23-year-old engineering student was killed due to a mistaken identity. The assailants, who were given a Supari for Rs 1.40 lakhs, had presumed Monica to be another third year student who was not even her friend. The only common thread was they went to the same college and also resided in the same hostel.
The murderer identified as Shrikant Sonekar resident of Hudkeshwar area. Sonekar is a master burglar and with several cases of housebreaking against his name.
The girl who was supposed to be murdered Rekha (name changed), who was also a student of Shrimati Rajshree Mulak College of Engineering for Women, was the target of the killers who had come from Katol. While Monica was a third-year student of electronics, Rekha belonged to the third year batch of computer engineering.
Police said that Rekha’s former boyfriend Kunal Jaiswal was the mastermind as he wanted to take revenge on being jilted. Jaiswal had become jealous after Shweta had grown close to another youth (name withheld) who was already in a relationship with one of her friends.
The name of Jaiswal, a teacher at an English school in Katol, cropped up when the cops were examining the call details of various people who were staying in the same hostel as Monica. Also, another hostelite also confessed to a woman police sub inspector that Jaiswal used to call her for details of Rekha’s movements. It was at this point that the police felt that Monica may have been the wrong target.
Along with Jaiswal, his friend Pradeep Sahare too came under suspicion following the scanning of the former’s call details.
Since Monica had her face covered, the assailants mistook her for Rekha. Moreover, there was some misunderstanding between Jaiswal and the assailants too. Monica, a resident of Ramtek, was heading to college when she was brutally stabbed by two people at Shree Nagar in Nandanvan. She received 10 stab wounds. Such was the force of the attack that the knife remained embedded in her body.
According to the police, Rekha and Jaiswal, whose father owned a hotel in Katol, were involved in a relationship for over a year. Jaiswal was introduced to Rekha when she had come to his village to attend a wedding.
The two broke up after a tiff. Jaiswal was keen on a patch up and often used to come to Nagpur to try and meet Rekha who did not show any interest.
Sources said that Rekha had a friend Samira (name changed), also an engineering student from KDK college, who stayed at the same hostel. Rekha got close to Samira’s boyfriend which further enraged Jaiswal who even threatened the youth on one occasion. Police said that Jaiswal befriended Kanika (name changed), another hostelite, and used to seek information from her on Rekha’s whereabouts. Kanika was convinced that there was nothing wrong as Jaiswal said he wanted to take back Rs 14,000 Rekha owed him. Not able to win back Rekha, Jaiswal decided to eliminate her. He roped in Sahare and three others – Raju, Sonekar and an unnamed person to murder Rekha.
Two days before the murder, Jaiswal and Sahare had come to Nagpur and managed to keep a track on Rekha’s schedule with the help of Kanika. The cops also studied the cell records of Jaiswal and Sahare prior to the murder date.
Jaiswal skipped school for a couple of days but ensured that he was present in Katol on the murder date. He and Sahare kept contact with Kanika over the cell phone. They were also talking to the assailants who were waiting near the hostel.
On the fateful day, Kanika made a mistake in passing information to Jaiswal who was told that Rekha had left. Jaiswal presumed she had just left the hostel and asked the assailants, one of whom was a heavily drunk Sonekar, to attack the girl who had stepped out. Actually, Rekha had left the hostel at 9 am while the attack took place at 11am. Monica just happened to be there at the wrong time.