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Dear Judge, Pallavi Purkayastha's Shorts Were Not Responsible For Her Murder

16/08/2016 4:02 PM IST | Updated 18/08/2016 8:28 AM IST
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Dear Justice Joshi,

I am writing to express my shock and anguish at your judgement in the Pallavi Purkayastha murder case. I recently read an article by Pallavi's father in which he has highlighted that while you thought that her being stabbed 16 times was cruel, it was not cruel enough to award the death penalty.

Mughal boasted to his friends that he had killed the "item". I wonder which is more insulting -- his statement or the words of your judgement?

The article also includes a quote from your judgement that "when the accused saw Pallavi in scanty clothes, he was sexually excited... therefore aggravating fact of pre-planning is not there." Thus, your judgment suggests that the clothes Pallavi was wearing that night somehow provoked her murderer. From what I understand about the facts of the case available in the public domain, the convict, Sajjad Mughal, was working as a security guard in the housing complex where Pallavi and her boyfriend, Avik, lived. On that fateful night, Mughal deliberately tripped the electricity to Pallavi's flat twice, stole the keys, entered surreptitiously armed with a knife and attempted to rape her. When Pallavi resisted he brutally attacked and murdered her. According to the statements of his colleagues, he had on several occasions spoken about his plans to rape Pallavi. Avik had also testified that Pallavi had shared her discomfort about Mughal who used to ogle her. Surely, all of this points to the fact that the crime was very much premeditated and not an act that was performed on the spur of the moment.

How could Pallavi's attire inside her own flat have anything to do with her getting brutally assaulted and murdered? As far as I am aware, wearing shorts in your own bedroom or on the roads for that matter is not a crime in India. How then, can we even begin to rationalize what might have provoked a beast to commit such a crime? Why are we trying to find excuses for the depravity of a killer's mind? It does not matter what his age was or what Pallavi was wearing. Anyone capable of committing a crime as heinous as this should be meted out the strongest possible punishment.

By saying that her clothing somehow instigated the attacker you are insulting her valour.

I am sure you are aware that nearly 100 women are reportedly raped in India every day. Of course, if we factor in unreported incidents, that statistic would be far higher. Do all these women invite rape by wearing certain types of clothes or behaving in a particular manner? Recently, two three-year-old girls were raped in Jaipur within the space of a week. How would you rationalize those crimes? Why must we find the fault in the victims of the crime instead of the perpetrators? The fact that you could make such a statement being a woman yourself only makes it worse.

Pallavi fought her assailant valiantly till her last breath. He came equipped with a knife while she was unarmed. It was never an equal fight but she gave it her all. By saying that her clothing somehow instigated the attacker you are insulting her valour. In fact, you are insulting every woman who fights a daily battle to live her life on her own terms without a shadow of fear constantly looming large. You are free to give whatever judgement you think is best but the least you could have done is to not humiliate the deceased and add to the anguish of her family members who have been living through hell every single day since Pallavi passed away.

A report suggests that after committing the crime, Mughal boasted to his friends that he had killed the "item". I wonder which is more insulting to the memory of Pallavi -- his statement or the words of your judgement? Why is it that victims of unspeakable crimes have to suffer repeatedly? First when the crime actually happens and later when our "system" places the blame on them instead of shaming and appropriately punishing the criminal.

My biggest takeaway from your judgement is that wearing shorts inside your own house is a far bigger crime than committing a rape or murder.

Finally, by not giving exemplary punishment for an act of utter depravity, what message are you sending to the country? That you can stab someone 16 times and it will still not be considered "extreme cruelty"? That the fault of this crime lies with Pallavi because her choice of clothes was not appropriate?

Our 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 and the harshest of punishments will be meted out in a speedy manner. Courts should also be empathetic to victims and their loved ones so that they do not have to endure agony repeatedly. As it stands, my biggest takeaway from your judgement is that wearing shorts inside your own house is a far bigger crime than committing a rape or murder.

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