Echoes of an Entire Country
Judgement onDelhi’s gang-rape case sends a message to the world
Giulia Dogliatti Delhi
December 16, 2012, marked a breaking point for many Indian women who could not stand violence any longer. The feelings of all those women became as one in the world, focused around the shocking gang rape that happened that night on a bus in Southwest Delhi. The victim, a 23 year-old girl, was attacked, raped and thrown off a bus by four men. The impact onIndia, its people and authorities, was so strong that even Sonia Gandhi went toSafdarjangHospitalto check on the condition of the poor girl, who the media named Nirbhaya (“The one who has no fear”). She died after two weeks; her internal organs had been completely destroyed. News of this brutal event reached all corners and resonated in the ears of women in so many countries outsideIndia. I still remember when I heard the sad story inItaly. I never thought that I would have been here, inDelhi, when the sentence would be emitted.
Three hours of wait and expectations, pacific turmoil and interviews within the crowd. The sun is bursting, and the multitude of people is so tense that even the opinions asked from journalists to the citizenry participating are requested silently, in a preparatory mood, like the atmosphere is too sacred to be broken. It is only when a man jumps over the barrier and shouts, in excitement and joy, “Capital Punishment, Capital Punishment!!! They gave them the Capital Punishment!”, that the eyes of every person present in the place open with surprise and release: the mob gets what it wanted. It took nine months to finally have the judgement, and here we are: today, September 13, the four men are condemned to capital punishment.
At 1 pm cameras, headlines, and so many people outside the Court waited for Judge Yogesh Kanna to decide the destinies of the four assailants. An immense crowd of police carefully kept an eye on the situation, inside and outside, with lathis. Pressure and excitement were in the air. From posters it could be supposed that people demanded full condemnation: an old strong woman dressed in white marched proudly with a white sheet declaiming: “Phansi do, phansi do” (“Hang them, hang them”). Was this actually the overall opinion? I and my friend were asked this question a lot of times when we were in front of theJustice Courtbefore and after the sentence: it is well known the big echo news of the event had had, so people were curious about the reaction aroused by it in other States and Continents. We answered and launched the ball back to the Indian men and women living all this time with these events. Some said, “Capital Pain is not useful. It comes too late. If the police would be as aware as today every other day of the year, that horrifying thing wouldn`t have happened.” It`s three pm when we leave the Justice Court: the crowd is full of joy, and justice is made. Violence against women is not finished, but it`s a beginning. And let the echo of this beginning spread to the entire world.
When fiction becomes reality
The September 13 sentencing of gang-rape assailants in Delhi does some to balm the wounds
Jessica Rubino Delhi
The thick dark blanket of the night had enshrouded everything but the faintest lights of a charter bus. Its driver, Ram Singh, in the grips of intoxication, was looking at a girl lying on the street. Around her half-naked body, a warm puddle of thick muddy blood had formed. Ram Singh didn’t feel any sympathy for her, so without any hesitation he stepped on the gas to run her over and finally, after almost two hours of torture, kill her.
Nirbhaya looked at the accelerating bus, unable to move. She had been beaten, raped, and her intestines had been hauled out of her body — she was helpless. But there he was: the one that tried everything to save her from the driver’s gang was once again attempting to save her life, pulling her aside with the little strength he had left in his shattered body. Her friend saved her from the spinning wheels of Ram Singh’s bus, and the driver didn’t attempt again to kill her; he went home, knowing that she would die anyway.
What sounds just like a horror novel is what a young physiotherapy intern and her male friend experienced last December 16. After going to see a movie, they boarded a bus to for home; the girl didn’t know she would never see her house again. A few hours before, Ram Singh and his gang had been having some drinks together when they decided to go out and ‘have some fun’. By the time they met Nirbhaya (pseudonym) and her friend, they had already robbed someone. It was 9:30 pm when the couple boarded the bus — the only one willing to take them home. There, acting like passengers, were Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and a juvenile, waiting for the right moment to attack their new victims. The doors were locked and the bus had already deviated from its usual route when Nirbhaya’s friend became suspicious.
Right when he rebelled, the men assaulted the couple. Nirbhaya was tortured in every imaginable way, from beaten to stripped, raped to torn apart. After raping her multiple times, they penetrated her with a rusty iron rod, so violently that her intestines were pulled out with it. Surprisingly, the juvenile was the most brutal among the criminals: not only did he rape the girl twice, but he also dragged out most of her intestines with his bare hands. After perpetrating this heinous crime, they threw the couple on the hostile grit of an unknown road and attempted to kill the girl by running her over with the bus. Luckily, her friend managed to save her. They were brought eventually to Safdarjung Hospital by a passerby, but even after many surgeries Nirbhaya’s condition was critical. She died after fighting for thirteen days, during which struggle she never lost hope — she was described as ‘meaningfully communicative’ until she had a heart attack on her flight to Singapore, where she was traveling to receive further treatment. Once there she never regained consciousness. She died on December 29.
This abominable story shocked India and the whole world. Nirbhaya became not only Delhi’s brave heart, but everybody’s daughter, sister and friend. Protests began to erupt in many Indian cities, with Delhi’s Jantar Mantar serving as the main stage. There, some observed a one-day hunger strike, while others drew graffiti demanding a fast judgment for the perpetrators of the hideous crime.
On September 13, 2013, nine months after the scandal, there was turmoil outside the court. People gathered rapidly and politely, waiting for the verdict. Most of them wanted Capital Punishment; others hoped for life-long imprisonment; some suggested feeding them to the crowd. Yet, when a man burst from the gates with his arms pointing to the sky and screamed “Capital Punishment!” the crowd started to jump for joy. Happiness, relief, thankfulness and hope could be seen in everybody’s eyes and smiles; they started waving signs and dancing cheerfully while clamoring slogans like ’Inquilab Zindabad’.
Finally, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Takur and the juvenile have been judged for their atrocious actions: the first four will be hanged, while the juvenile will spend three years in a reform facility — his verdict wasn’t welcomed by the crowd, since he was the most brutal assailant. The driver was found hanging from a ventilator shaft in his cell last March; it is unclear whether this was suicide or murder. Either way, he too is judged.