Mumbai, May 11 (IANS) A Mumbai Sessions Court on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment two Bollywood junior artistes for the gruesome killing of Nepali-origin aspiring actress-cum-model Meenakshi Thapa, a law officer said.
“Sessions Judge S.G. Shete found them guilty on three main counts of kidnapping, extortion and murder of Thapa and sentenced them to life imprisonment,” Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the media.
On Wednesday, Judge Shete found Amit Kumar Jaiswal, 40, and his girlfriend Preeti Surin, 36, guilty of killing the 27-year-old actress in Uttar Pradesh in 2012.
During the arguments on the quantum of sentence, Nikam had termed the murder as “the rarest of rare cases” and demanded death sentence for both.
Hoping to make it big in Bollywood, the actress had arrived in Mumbai from Dehradun in 2011 and acted in small roles in films like “404”, “Heroine”, “Sehera and “Pakau”, besides dabbling with modelling assignments.
Claiming to hail from an affluent family, Thapa met Jaiswal and Surin on the sets of Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar’s film “Heroine”. She expressed her ambitions to make a career in films.
Impressed by her allegedly wealthy background, Jaiswal and Surin conspired to make money from her family, besides boosting their career in films, according to the investigations.
According to the prosecution, they lured Thapa to Allahabad in March 2012 on the pretext of an attractive modelling assignment and a prominent role in a Bhojpuri film.
After reaching Allahabad, they held Thapa hostage and made a ransom demand of Rs 1.50 million from her mother.
However, the Thapa family — comprising her parents, both working for central government undertakings in Dehradun, and a brother working for the Indian Army — managed to send only Rs 60,000, following which Jaiswal and Surin decided to eliminate their hostage.
They severed Thapa’s head in the staff quarters of a hostel where Surin’s father worked as a watchman.
Subsequently, they chopped her body into small pieces and disposed them off in a nearby septic tank, carried the body in a bus for Lucknow where they dumped the murder weapon.
They boarded another bus to Jaunpur and en route threw away the bag containing Thapa’s severed head in an isolated location, over 100 km from Allahabad.
Before disposing off the body, the accused retained Thapa’s mobile and bank debit cards, reportedly messaged her mother to deposit the ransom amount in her daughter’s bank account failing which they would make a pornographic film and make it public.
On the basis of tracking her mobile SIM card and bank ATM debit card, the investigators managed to nab the accused when they reached Mumbai on April 14, nearly a month after killing Thapa, and attempted to withdraw money from her account near Bandra.
During the trial, Nikam examined 35 witnesses, including prime accused Surin’s father, who had last seen Thapa with Jaiswal and Surin in Allahabad before she was murdered.