Jai Ho, Nirbhaya !

By Vijaya Pushkarna

 #Nirbhaya began trending in seconds, hailing the  death warrants as well as asking for more.

“How do we petition to the honourable courts that they not be hanged together, but one by one, where others are made to watch while one of them is being hanged” tweeted @samgupt.

That was the way they raped her, one after the other. 

Asha Devi and Badrinath have attended countless sittings of the court,waiting for justice for their daughter who was gang raped brutally by six men including one juvenile, in a moving  bus, and was thrown out along with her companion,on a cold Delhi winter night seven years ago.

Minutes after she heard a Delhi court had issued death warrants against four of the rapists– one committed suicide in Tihar Jail, and the juvenile was sent to a rehab and later home—Asha Devi said , “It was not our fight. The court has given justice to all the daughters of India”. Her only regret was that her daughter had to wait for seven long years to get justice.

The convicts— Mukesh Singh, 32, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Sharma, 26, and Akshay Kumar Singh, 31, will be hanged on January 22, at 7 am in Delhi's high-security Tihar jail, if all goes according to the plans of Additional Sessions Judge Satish Arora of the  Patiala House Courts. Arora signed the death warrants. And Tihar jail has been preparing for this execution for over a month, doing a countrywide search for a hangman, shifting Mukesh from another jail to Tihar.

 But the convicts may yet be able to defer that time table, given they can avail of curative petition and mercy petition.

There cannot be a rape that is not brutal, one that does not leave a scar, visible or not. But this was the most brutal of them all, enraging the nation where a rash of protests saw men, women, the elderly and children who knew not what it was, asking for punishment for the rapists—nothing short of death. The Nirbhaya case was also the subject of international documentaries, and the basis of feature films in India.

The story of a paramedic out with her boy friend, and her horrible end two weeks later  churned passions such that there was not an iota of sympathy for the juvenile rapist. If he can rape, he should be punished , was one of the  many slogans on placards at candle light marches in the national capital. The incident divided , albeit temporarily, society including families, on the basis of gender. If some cautioned women to be careful, they wanted boys to be taught how to behave.

Above all, it made a case for strong laws against rapists, and those indulging in crime  against women. The Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.  The Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013. It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms. 
The Committee was of the view that rape and sexual assault are not merely crimes of passion but an expression of power.  Rape should be retained as a separate offence and it should not be limited to penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus.  Any non-consensual penetration of a sexual nature should be included in the definition of rape. Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts, the Committee held, also recommending that sexuality education should be imparted to children, and  adult literacy programs for gender empowerment.

While there was excited welcoming of the  death warrants that were long awaited by women and men across the country, the issue of whether hanging the four will  result  in the end of the crime against women, continued to be a question mark.

BJP MP Hansraj Ahir was happy, not just because Nirbhaya had finally received justice. He looked at the verdict as one more step of the Modi government towards ensuring the safety of women.

“If you rape a woman, brutally so, if you insert a rod into her  and you kill her, you better hang”, was the emphatic response of Smriti Irani, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development.

In a  very comprehensive and 360 degree view on the death warrants to the rapists of the  23-year old ,  Irani told a television channel that Asha Devi was entitled to her happiness today for she and her husband have sat in the court and heard their daughter’s character he assassinated.
Said the minister,  “ This is a case that enraged the  nation 7 years ago. This is a case where politicians irrespective of their ideological views came together and ensured that in Parliament laws were made stronger, procedures were made stricter, protocols were given to administrators and judicial bodies across the country.

And today when I see the headlines depict that Nirbhaya ‘s mother’s struggle and the judicial order,I have to first say  I understand the partial relief she has got , the partial closure that she has got – because losing a child, you can never have a complete closure.

But I also recognize that justice though delayed, for her and her family, has not been denied. She has struggled,  her husband sat in the court with her, when they heard their daughter’s character being assassinated . That was one of the lowest lows in the case. You cannot deny her her struggle. You cant deny that those who raped her daughter stood  there and took advantage of every loophole they could think of, laughed at times in the face  of  the family. You cannot deny So today I say let them be happy

I think with each passage of year and  time, laws become stricter stronger , procedures through experience can be better, and are betterd. But I will only say this, that these kind of crimes and these kind of criminals truly test your democratic values. Would you be as beastly as them and say hang them without proper judicial processes? You don’t. We are a country that gave a fair trial to a deadly terrorist like (Ajmal ) Kasab. That is our true test as a democratic people. They will test us. We don’t become as beastly as them. But we make damn sure  that justice is delivered to such people. If you rape a woman, brutally so, if you insert a rod into her  and you kill her, you better hang”

Now the pressure on the system will be to ensure the four rapists are done to death at 7 am on Jan 22, not a minute later.

Jai ho, Nirbhaya


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