Seven years ago, on December 12, 2012, a team of reporters from each channel had gone to Ahmedabad to cover the Gujarat assembly elections of 2012. There were infectious energy and camaraderie in the air, amongst all reporters. Four days later, came the news of the brutal gangrape of a young girl. The barbaric rapists beat her with a rod and raped her, on a moving bus. They sexually assaulted her with a rusted, L-shaped iron rod that was used to operate a jack used to change flat tyres on buses.
Our energy in Ahmedabad changed to shock, and then sombre silence. We flew back, to Delhi praying for her. India was outraged. There were protests in all cities. In Delhi, a tsunami of protesters came to Raisina Hill. Young girls demanding to hang off the rapists. Unprecedented scenes of protesters facing water cannons, tear gas shells and lathi charge was seen. As I tried to find shelter, having been fired a fresh blow of water cannon, the girls protested on, outraged.
On December 23, 2012, in the afternoon thousands marched towards Rajpath, shouting slogans. The police used water canons. The slogans continued. The police fired tear has. The placards were raised higher. 'Hang the rapists.' 'Phasi do, phasi do' rang in the air. On 29 December 2012 India mourned Nirbhaya's death.
The law changed. The Act which came into force on April 3, 2013, has stringent punishments to deal with sex crimes against women. The new law expanded the definition of rape including forced penetration, oral, vaginal or anal, with any foreign object. Over the past seven years, I have met Asha Devi, Nirbhaya's mother in courts. She is a brave inspiring mother, who is still fighting for justice.
Sometimes she breaks down, crying at the continue delays, the struggle. Sometimes she is fierce, wanting justice for her lost child. At all times, she is determined.
On 5 May 2017, the Supreme Court in the Nirbhaya case, upholding death to rapists said they had committed "a barbaric crime" that had "shaken society's conscience." The casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable. It sounds like a story from a different world where humanity has been treated with irreverence” the bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said.
Last month in Hyderabad, the gruesome gangrape and murder of 26-year-old, Disha sparked protests in India. 'Hang Rapists' cries were heard across India. Eight days after she was burnt to death, the four accused were shot dead in an early morning encounter by the Cyberabad police. The accused had tried to flee the spot and snatch police guns.
The locals threw flower petals, at the Police officials. Disha's father said her soul would now rest in peace. Nirbhaya's mother, Asha Devi Ji, rejoiced and said "main bahut khusb hoon. Police ne acha kaam kiya." (I am very happy, the Police did a good job.) Often, I recount the words of Justice Arjit Pasayat, in a Supreme Court judgment, "While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a helpless female."
As this article gets published, Nirbhaya's mother is still praying for the barbarians' mercy plea to be rejected. Seven years later. The final decision of the President is awaited. I wonder the devastating dread that Nirbhaya, Disha, and many others experienced at the hands of savage barbarians. Its time to rise and ensure each rapist is hanged to death, under the laws of the Nation.