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TNN | Mar 22, 2014, 03.53 AM IST
LUCKNOW: Gaurav Shukla, the prime accused in the Aashiana gang rape case, was declared an adult at the time of committing the crime by the Lucknow's Juvenile Justice Board on Friday. It was for the second time in nine-year-old case the board has declared the accused an adult. Earlier, on January 15, 2013, the Board had accepted March 14, 1987 as Gaurav''s actual date of birth taking cognizance of the birth details entered into the records of St Francis' College, the first school he attended.
The verdict came as a relief for the gang rape survivor Zahira (name changed) but apprehension was writ large on her face. "I would be happier if the case goes on trial. My worry is that the accused may again come up with some legal hurdle as he had done last year," said the survivor, who was just 13 when allegedly abducted, tortured with cigarette burns and brutally gang-raped by six brats before being dump on the street to die on May 2, 2005.
Since then, the survivor, daughter of a scrap dealer, has been fighting for justice. While the five accused in the case have been convicted so far, the trial of the prime accused could not begin due to his age dispute. "From the day this incident happened, we have spent thousands of rupees towards her treatment and for appearing in court, when there is a hearing. Now, I hope we will get justice," her father added.
The prime accused, who is also nephew of mafia-turned-politician and Samajwadi Party's Lok Sabha candidate from Unnao, Aruna Shankar Shukla, in now married and has settled down in life, the survivor is forced to live in hiding due to life threat. Though Aruna now claims that he had no relations with Gaurav's family for the past 20 years, the survivor holds money and political power responsible for the delay. "If Delhi gang rape trial can end in six months, why justice has not been delivered to me even after nine years," she questioed.
After January 2013, verdict which declared him a major, Gaurav filed an appeal in the high court claiming that he was not given enough opportunity to place his defence. The court directed the board to hear the version of the accused and decide the matter in two months but the matter got delayed as the accused filed appeals against most of orders of the Board. On one occasion, even the high court took serious note of 'delaying tactics'. "We have worked hard and have faith in judiciary," said activist Madhu Garg, who is helping Zahira in her fight for justice.