8 yrs after gangrape, board says accused 'was not a minor'

Gangrape

Eight years after a 13-year-old girl was gangraped in Ashiana locality of Lucknow, the Juvenile Justice Board on Tuesday rejected prime accused Gaurav Shukla's claim that he was a minor at the time of the crime. Holding that Gaurav was a major, the board ruled that his date of birth was March 14, 1987, and not October 2, 1989, as he claimed.

Gaurav, who is the nephew of senior Samajwadi Party leader and history-sheeter Arun Shankar Shukla alias Anna Maharaj, is out on bail. The board directed him to appear before the relevant court on January 21.

The victim's father, Saleem (name changed), was satisfied with the board order and said: "It is the first step towards justice. I am happy."

Gaurav was not present, as his lawyer had obtained exemption from appearance.

In support of his claim, Gaurav had produced his high school marksheet and certificate. The victim's advocate Jalaj Gupta said: "We proved that Gaurav submitted fake documents to get admission in Herald Public Inter College from where he appeared in the high school exam.

"The board has held that the date of birth which was mentioned in the record of his first school was correct."

However, Gaurav's trial may not yet begin because he can challenge the board order in the sessions court.

But Madhu Garg, state general secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association, who along with Roop Rekha Verma, former vice chancellor of Lucknow University, pursued the case all along and fought for the victim, said they will continue with the fight till "Gaurav Shukla is brought to justice."

The case dates back to May 2, 2005 when four youths kidnapped the girl from the posh Ashiana locality and gangraped her in a moving car. They also beat her and branded her with cigarette butts on her limbs. Later, they took the girl to a farmhouse, belonging to one of the accused, and again took turns to rape her. Two others also joined them at the farmhouse. One of the accused threatened the girl with a pistol as she was "making noise".

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