Seven people, including three teachers, who have been found guilty of abducting and gang-raping a college girl at Pandalam in central Travancore, were yesterday sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of seven to 11 years and fines.

All the seven were found guilty by the Kottayam-based Special Court on Friday last.

The first four accused were sentenced to 20 years on various counts. But the court felt that they need to undergo only 11 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs35,000 each.

The other accused were sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs15,000. The court observed that the teachers were involved in a crime against society.

The prosecution submitted that the seven conspired to trap the girl, a B.A. student of the Nair Service Society College, and "present" her to some of their friends.

The girl was a brilliant student who scored more than 75 per cent marks. She had also made mark as a poetess.

The mastermind behind the heinous crime was K. Venugopal, a lecturer of the English department. On July 10, 1997, he invited the girl to his house to get introduced to his wife and children.

The girl, who was on her way to meet her sister to inform her about the health conditions of their father, obliged.

On entering the house, she found another English lecturer Puthussery Ravi alias B.

Raveendranathan Pillai who made advances towards her. The first in the series of the sexual torture the girl underwent came from Pillai as Venugopal "stood guard".

Subsequently, the duo blackmailed her and subjected her to all their plans threatening that they would disclose the incident if she resisted. She was made to come to the house of fourth accused contractor Venugopal where the first accused lecturer Venugopal ravaged her modesty.

The prosecution submitted that the girl had to abide by the whims and fancies of the accused as she feared that if the matter became public her father, who is a heart patient, might die of heart attack and the married life of her sister would be ruined.

After a certain stage, the teachers took her photographs in the nude and threatened to make them public. From the teachers, the girl was forced to move into the hands of their friends.

An attempt was also made to take a porn film using the girl. Driven to the wall, the girl stopped going to the college and disclosed the matter to her mother. The father complained to the college principal who on his part alerted the police.

Once the shocking details of the case became public and the seven were placed in the dock, attempts were reportedly made to kill the girl or to bribe her into silence. One she was hit on her head while she was in her courtyard.

Immediately after a case was filed the third accused – Malayalam lecturer K. Radhakrishnan committed suicide.

The court found all the seven equally guilty of criminal conspiracy.

Some of them were also found guilty of rape, gang rape, unnatural sexual relations, threats and physical torture.

The accused number three, six and seven took part only in the criminal conspiracy. The case initially investigated by the local police was passed on to the Crime Branch with pressure mounting on authorities by student protests.

The court heard the case in detail from September 4 to December 23.