Mumbai: Three years after sexual exploitation of mentally retarded children in an orphanage in neighbouring Thane district came to light, the sessions court here on Thursday convicted six persons including a woman.
Pundalik Gole (secretary of the orphanage), Salim Sayyed (teacher), Sikandar Pinjari (teacher), Shailaja Tarmale (Gole`s wife), Jitendra Chavan (superintendent) and Ramkrishna Bhagwat (caretaker) were convicted on various charges including gang-rape, unnatural sex, wrongful restraint, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempt to murder and abetment under the Indian Penal Code, and also some offences under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Principal Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Josi sentenced Gole to life imprisonment, while Sayyed was sentenced to five years`s imprisonment. Pinjari and Chavan got 10 years` imprisonment each while Tarmale was sentenced to seven years` and Bhagwat was sentenced to one year`s imprisonment.
Two teachers -- Harshada Nichite and Sonal Shirke -- were acquitted.
The accused were, however, acquitted of the charge of murder. The charge had been added when some of the victim children said that torture led to death of five inmates.
According to prosecution, the children at Kadva orphanage -- which had 19 inmates including five girls -- were subjected to brutalities.
They were forced to consume alcohol at knife point. The girls were raped, boys were sodomised. Five children died between April and September 2010.
Public Prosecutor Vaibhav Bhagade told reporters, "The crime was heinous and was committed against mentally retarded children who don`t have ability to raise their voice or defend themselves".
Superintendent of Police and the chief investigation officer Rashmi Karandikar said she was happy with the convictions.
The Bombay High Court had taken suo motu notice of a newspaper article, initiating the probe.