In the first judgment in Andhra Pradesh under the Nirbhaya Act, a fast-track court in Ranga Reddy district neighbouring Hyderabad sentenced two cab drivers to 20 years in prison for raping a 22-year-old software engineer on October 18 last year after offering her a lift in their car.
The case had outraged the software industry and prompted political parties to include safety and security of women in Hyderabad in their election manifestos.
The techie — named ‘Abhaya’ by the Cyberabad Police to conceal her identity — was waiting for an autorickshaw near Hitech City to return to her hostel in the evening when the two convicts, V Satish and N Venkateshwarlu, offered her a lift.
Satish, 26, was driving his employer’s car — a Volvo sedan — as his boss was out of town, and he had taken Venkateshwarlu for a drive. Cyberabad Police said when Venkateshwarlu asked Satish about the “joyride”, he told him they could use the car to lure a girl and “have some fun”. Satish told Venkateshwarlu, who posed as a passenger, was going to the same location as her hostel, and he would drop her for Rs 40.
The woman sat in the car and started talking on the phone, initially not realising when Satish, instead of going towards her hostel, headed towards Medak district.
On realising this, the woman started asking questions and screaming. That’s when Venkateshwarlu seized her phone and switched it off. The girl tried to open the car door, but found it locked. The two men drove her to an isolated area near Kolluru and took turns to rape her. They dropped her at her hostel six hours later, warning her of dire consequences if she said anything to anyone.
Based on the complaint lodged by her friend with whom she was talking, police tried to locate the vehicle one hour after the woman was picked up. However, cops were unable to locate the car.
It was only when women police counsellors approached the woman later that she revealed the ordeal. Since she was unable recall the car’s make or model, police took the help of the NIA, CID and CCTV footage from private sources to zero in on a white Volvo.
According to police, Satish drove around in the Cyberabad IT zone for nearly two hours and in the darkness, no one saw the woman screaming and gesturing in the back of the car. CCTV cameras on the road were not functioning. The car even stopped at two toll booths on the Outer Ring Road. “At the time, she had been reassured they were going back to her hostel as they took a U-turn on the highway, so she kept quiet,” an official said.