In a shocking turn of events, a death-row convict involved in the notorious July 2016 Kopardi gang-rape and murder of a 15-year-old schoolgirl has reportedly committed suicide at Yerawada Central Jail. The convict, identified as Jitendra Babula Shinde, alias Pappu, was 26 years old at the time of the heinous crime. Shinde, along with two accomplices, Santosh Gorkha Bhawal, 30, and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume, 28, had been convicted and sentenced to death for their involvement in the rape, conspiracy, kidnap, and murder, among other charges, in November 2017, approximately 18 months after the crime sent shockwaves through the state.
Advocate Vijalayaxmi Khopade, representing one of the convicts, revealed that the trio's death sentences had yet to be confirmed by the Bombay High Court, and the necessary legal proceedings were still ongoing. The cause of Shinde's suicide remains unclear, and investigations are currently underway, according to official sources.
The tragic incident dates back to July 13, 2016, when the victim, a 9th-grade student, had gone to her grandmother's house nearby to retrieve some spices. Allegedly, she was lured by the three convicts, subsequently kidnapped, and subjected to a horrifying ordeal of rape and murder.
This gruesome incident had sparked a series of silent protests by the Maratha community, demanding swift action against the accused. To handle the legal proceedings, the state government had appointed Special Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who oversaw the case in a Fast Track Court in Ahmednagar, where the verdict was delivered in November 2017 after 18 months of legal proceedings.