A 24-year old girl had the dreams of becoming a paramedical specialist one day and making her parents proud by fulfilling her dreams. The girl’s father had put her education above his sons and even sold his ancestral land to educate her. The ghosts of the past still haunts him and shiver goes down the spine even today when he thinks about the cold night of December 16, 2012 when her daughter was brutally raped and murdered by six men in a mini bus in the Capital Delhi. The heinous incident which horrified shocked the collective conscience of India attracted widespread criticism and condemnation nationwide, international coverage and protests against state and central governments for failing to protect the women of the country.
The event triggered the authorities to take actions and revise existing laws. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was passed to amend existing laws related to sexual offences. It also includes the revision of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). The Juvenile Justice Bill passed in December 2015 proposed to treat those above 16 years of age to be treated as adult in Criminal Court in case of heinous crimes.
The girl was named the daughter of India, the Delhi brave heart, Nirbhaya for fighting off her rapists and her constant effort to give detailed statement to the authorities. Nirbhaya was honoured posthumously by United States Department for showing courage with 2013 International Woman of Courage Awards. The government set up the Nirbhaya Fund under 2013 Union budget which is Department of Economic Affairs of the finance ministry to safeguard the dignity of women. Nirbhaya’s parents, Badri Nath Singh and Asha Devi, set up the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust in December, 2013 to assist women experiencing violence to find shelter and legal assistance. Consequently, December 16, 2015 was marked as “Nirbhaya Chetna Diwas” to spread awareness about the women’s protection and pay homage to her.
Of the six accused, the bus driver Ram Singh was found dead in his cell on March 11, 2013 in Tihar Jail which made it unclear whether it was a suicide or murder. The minor juvenile who was just short of 18 years from few months as per JJB (Juvenile Justice Board) was tried in Juvenile Justice Court and served three years imprisonment in a detention centre and thus was released in December 2015 and afterwards relocated to southern India to start a fresh life. The other accused included Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, and Akshay Thakur who were found guilty of rape, murder, unnatural offences destruction of evidence and the attempted murder of the woman’s male companion by the apex trial court on September 10, 2013 and sentenced them to death. The accused challenged the verdict in High court which even confirmed death sentence on March 13, 2014. The accused further appealed to Supreme Court to stay the execution. The final Judgement came on May 05, 2017 with Supreme Court convicted the four accused with the death sentence mentioning the crime to be of rarest of rare category. But the rapists still can file review petition in SC. Even a curative petition can be filed after review appeal is dismissed. The last resort is pleading for mercy before President.
The accused Ram Singh considered the girl to be responsible for the fate since she fought back and was out in dark at such a late hour and even considered the death penalty as a reason for more such victims getting killed. Even the juvenile didn’t had any sense of repentance as mentioned by some sources who visited his rehabilitation centre. The criminals had such a worse mentality and showed no regret or realization for whatever they did.
Almost everyone is happy with the verdict except those found guilty. The death sentence will also create a fear among others. But what did the four assaulters really learnt from the same. They are just trying to escape it. Also, is awarding death sentence to them makes them pay for their wrong doing. Even the Law tribunal proposed no death penalty for cases other than terrorism. In my opinion, let the accused pay for their lifetime for whatever they have done, make them survive with exemplary punishment, let them pay for their sins and first of all make them and their conscience realize what they have done.
Nirbhaya’s rape case raises several questions in itself. Was it more important that time to take the statement of the victim who was already suffering a lot instead of consoling and heal her. Another question is why that case invoked such public outrage and attention because rapes happen every day in heinous way. The biggest question is to make sure the same doesn’t happen again. But it is happening again and again. Similar many cases have come to light in recent years and one just last week in Gurugram where a girl was raped outside her PG in Sukhrali.
Rape is the fourth most common crime in India. A number of women are raped every day out of which maximum cases goes unreported. I remember the day when our maid came late and informed the reason being her daughter was raped while returning from work and she didn’t has any intent of even consoling her daughter or reporting it as if it was such a usual thing for her. There are lot of rape attempts every now and then from which only few fails. Many cases involve the accused being relatives and even the victims include minors and maximum cases remain pending for trial. Have anyone ever thought how many women, families, lives and their future is affected. The scars on those souls remain there for a long time. The family elders fear to send their girls outside or live alone in metropolitan cities for work.
So much have happened in all those years, but after taking numerous steps, have this country improved or learnt something. Have the government leant something? Have the society learnt something or changed a bit. The society starts to blame the victim, who is still somewhere hiding her pain, than the perpetrator. You all would have seen people’s insensitivity towards victims who makes them remember the past instead of supporting them. We can hope for better things with men joining in such discussions as well and introducing sex education for the same. The Government can take measures to ensure proper safety measures for it plays a great role in shaping public safety especially those of women and children. It’s time for better readiness starting with identifying crime hotspots, strict patrolling in poor lit untouched areas and continuous tracking.
But it’s also time to eliminate the root cause as well, the criminals? No. But the crime, the tendency, mentality and desire that make someone do commit such heinous acts. Has someone tried to analyse why they have done so. What was their upbringing and what all they have gone through. What circumstances they are living in, do they have job, livelihood, etc. When they are living sleepless nights on streets and have nothing to do their mind will divert towards weird, crazy and disastrous things. How people have behaved with them. It’s time to analyse the mind set of such people so that such incidents don’t happen again or at least their frequency can be reduced. The culture we live in becomes a reality for us and also it seems as a normal thing for the mind as well as the heart. Also, it’s an appeal to the public to be more sensitive towards their surroundings and the people therein because their behaviour leaves a mark on others and shape their mentality and life.
IT’S TIME TO CALL FOR CHANGE