Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Geeta Arora, also known as ‘Sonu Punjaban’, was sentenced to 24 years in prison by a Delhi Court on Wednesday, 22 July, for trafficking of a minor.
In 2014, the Delhi Police had registered an FIR, accusing Punjaban and her aides of forcing a minor girl into prostitution.
Punjaban was booked under the POCSO Act. According to police, the girl was sold to different people several times. The survivor was reportedly drugged and poisoned in order to be incapacitated.
“She (the accused) forcibly administered drugs to the girl so that she could not resist a customer (man) who would sexually exploit her. She applied chilly powder on the breasts of the girl and also put it into her mouth in order to create fear in her mind so she should act as per her wishes or otherwise be ready to face brutality. The shameful deeds of convict ‘Sonu Punjaban’ deprives her of any leniency from the courts. A person, irrespective of gender, who does such horrific and terrible acts, has no right to live in a civilized society and for her, the best place to live is in the four boundaries of the jail.”Pritam Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Dwarka Court
Punjaban’s accomplice, Sandeep Bedwal, has also been sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly kidnapping and raping the minor on the pretext of marriage. The duo has been slapped with fines of ₹64,000 and ₹65,000 respectively.
The Delhi Court has also directed Delhi Legal Service Authority to pay a compensation of ₹7 lakh to the survivor.
Punjaban’s lawyer, RM Tufail, urged the court to be lenient on grounds of her being a single mother whose husband had been allegedly killed in a police encounter.
Moreover, Punjaban’s lawyer said that her brother is HIV positive and mother is a senior citizen. Tufail also pointed out that she has already spent more than two years in custody already.
Background of the Case
In 2014, the minor escaped captivity and lodged an FIR at Najafgarh police station, accusing Punjaban and her aides of forcing her into prostitution. She told the police that she was kidnapped by Bedwal, raped by at least 12 men and finally was sold to Punjaban.
The investigation was later transferred to Delhi Police Crime Branch. Punjaban was arrested in December 2017 from her hideout in Delhi and was booked under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
She is facing two jail terms –14 years under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and 10 years for offences under the IPC such as selling minor for prostitution, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, etc.
Punjaban, a Serial Offender
Punjaban was able to escape the radar for long because of her connections with gangsters and other powerful people. She has five other cases against her. In 2007, she was arrested under Immoral Traffic Prevention Act for an alleged flesh trade racket.
She was arrested again in 2008 for the same offence. In 2011, Delhi Police arrested Punjaban twice for carrying out a prostitution racket. During a raid in Mehrauli, she was booked under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) but was acquitted in 2014 due to lack of evidence.
Punjaban is reportedly involved in a Haryana murder case as well, according to the police. It is alleged that she had two of her husbands killed to get possession their properties.
She has been in Tihar Jail since 2017, where she allegedly tried to kill herself recently.
(With inputs from ANI)