Nirbhaya RIP

By Vijaya Pushkarna


Why has Asha Devi, the gutsy mother of Nirbhaya, lost faith in the judiciary in exactly 10 days?

On Jan 7, after a Delhi court  issued death warrants for the rapists of her daughter Nirbhaya—the fearless one—Asha was happy  that she had won a 7-year long battle for justice , she said it was  victory for all women. She acknowledged there was delay, that she would have liked it fast-tracked, but reposed her faith in the judiciary.

Nirbhaya was  gangraped and left to die in Dec 2012. The brutality of it, the sadistic pleasure of a juvenile among the six rapists numbed the nation. Like Asha, many Indians wanted the harshest of punishment for them. One rapist committed suicide in the jail. One was a juvenile, whose punishment under laws __ rehabilitation__ governing the juvenile, angered many. 

 Saturday, Asha Devi was on many television channels,  at once sad and angry.She tried to reach out to  Prime Minister  Narendra Modi. “You came to power in 2014 promising safety of women, so please hang them on Jan 22”, the mother said, quoting  Modi’s slogans of that year, and pointing to the powers he enjoyed.

The mother  has been doing the rounds of the courts all these years, and had become conversant with the laws governing rape and  the legal processes involved. She  could not have missed the point that three of the four rapists had not exhausted all the legal options before them, when  warrants for  death at 7 am of Jan 22, were inked. So , however dejected she may have been when one of them filed a mercy petition and so got  their date with the noose deferred to 6 am of Feb 1, she could not have lost faith in the system that has given her justice.

But two things thereafter could have ripped apart any mother in Asha's shoes.

First, the  possibility of further delays in the execution. There is constant spat between the  Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party over the  hanging of the rapists, in poll bound Delhi . The BJP asserts that had it not been for the AAP, they could have been executed two years ago. The AAP maintains that the Lt Governor, who is a Central government appointee, was sitting on  files and not allowing the elected government to function fully. The Delhi police is under the Home Ministry. In the wordy duel all over the capital and on television, Asha Devi cannot be faulted for her fears of further delay. More so, because two of the rapists still have legal options!

The second  was a  tweet  by senior lawyer Indira Jainsing. “While I fully identify with the pain of Asha Devi I urge her to follow the example of Sonia Gandhi who forgave Nalini and said she didn’t want the death penalty for her. We are with you but against death penalty”, she said.

The angry mother retorted as only an angry mother can. “Who is Indira Jaising and why is she making an appeal to me to forgive rapists? She is making money on human rights’ ground. I don’t need her suggestions”, and the world of the little sparrow was abuzz with whether Asha needs to behave like Sonia Gandhi, whether Jaising would do that is she had beenin Asha’s place and so on—a totally involved conversation that would take the mother, Jaising or the case nowhere!!

 Jaising’s suggestion must have torn apart the mother whose idea of justice for the most brutal rapists in modern times was nothing short of their execution. But politicians making the case, in any manner, an issue in their campaign, are only adding to assault on Nirbhaya .


The battle for Delhi is no less than the battle for India, for scores of reasons. If it had not been for the elections, Asha's trauma could have been a wee bit less. But surely, there are enough election issues , if we take off the Nirbhaya rapists’ executions.

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