Seven years after a young medical student was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus in Delhi, a crime that jolted the nation, four of her killers were hanged at 5.30 am on Friday. The pre-dawn execution took place less than two hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the final petition of the convicts.
In the hours before that, the convicts had also petitioned the Delhi High Court, where their lawyer cited coronavirus for the lack of proper documents along with the hurriedly-filed appeal. A third court had already declared that they had run out of all legal options of stopping their execution.
Akshay Thakur, 31, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Sharma, 26, and Mukesh Singh, 32, were hanged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where they spent the last few hours in isolation and separate cells, barely eating.
They refused to eat and were up much of the night, said officials. The entire jail was on lockdown since last night, and officials said, few other prisoners in Asia’s largest prison facility could sleep a wink ahead of the first execution since 2015.
The convicts were woken at 3.30 am, around the time they learnt they had reached the end of the road in courts.
The four filed multiple petitions over the past few months, managing to stall their execution thrice at the eleventh hour. “Send them to the India-Pakistan border, send them to Doklam (at the border with China), but don’t hang them,” pleaded the lawyer of Akshay Thakur.
Several “dummy executions” had been carried out by the hangman, Pawan Jallad, as petitions stalled the execution repeatedly.
“We all have waited so long for this day. Today is a new dawn for daughters of India. The beasts have been hanged,” said Asha Devi, the mother of the young woman who came to be known as “Nirbhaya” or fearless. After the Supreme Court’s verdict, she went home and hugged her daughter’s photo.
On December 16, 2012, the 23-year-old woman had watched a movie with her friend and was looking for a ride home when she was lured into a bus by six men. The men beat the friend unconscious and dumped him in the back of the bus before attacking the woman.
For the next few hours, the woman was subjected to a savage assault and tortured with an iron rod before being dumped on a road, naked, bleeding and her intestines spilling out. She died a few days later in a Singapore hospital amid angry street protests across India and international revulsion.
Of the six arrested, one, Ram Singh, was found hanging in his jail cell and another, a minor who was just short of 18, was released after three years in a reform home.
India changed its laws on crimes against women after the horrific gang-rape and killing. Earlier this year, the government also asked the Supreme Court to bring laws that would be more considerate towards the victim and would not be misused by convicts to stall their sentence.(NDTV)