Monday, 23 July 2018


The world on December 17, 2012 woke up to the news of a female physiotherapy intern’s gang rape on the streets of Delhi in a small private moving bus. India which till that day was looked as the land of spirituality but was  now seen as a country unsafe for the women and not as a country where women were worshipped as a goddess. The victim was given the name Nirbhaya (Fearless) and since then she has been kept alive in spirit either through legislation or projects after her name. The incident was widely condemned, both in India and abroad.

On the night of December 16, the 23-year-old victim was beaten, gang raped and tortured in the private bus in which she was travelling with her friend. The incident took place in Munirka, South Delhi. The victim had accepted the ride with her friend after it started getting dark and there were few conveyance options available to them.

The perpetrators after committing their  heinous crime threw the young couple on road naked in the winter night with an intention of running the bus over her but she was pulled aside by her male friend.

An iron rod had been thrust into her vagina and shoved further into her abdomen. As per medical reports, the woman suffered grave injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals and there were numerous bite marks all over her body.

Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment but died from her injuries on December 29, 2012.

The heart-wrenching incident ignited anger and protests from all over the world with everyone questioning the security of women in India. The incident had generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad. Subsequently, public protests against the state and central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in New Delhi, where thousands of protesters clashed with security forces. Similar protests took place in major cities throughout the country.

Since Indian law does not allow the press to publish a rape victim's name, the victim has become widely known as Nirbhaya, meaning "fearless", and her life and death have come to symbolize women's struggle to end the rape culture in India and the long-held practice of either denial of its existence within the country, or otherwise blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator.

It was also the time when the use of tinted glass beyond permissible limits (windscreen and rear windows of vehicles should have a visual light transmission of 70 per cent) on any means of transport had been banned by the Supreme Court so that criminals inside the vehicles can be seen. The fact that the private bus, in which the gang rape took place, also had tinted windows raised questions over keeping a close watch on laws being broken.

As a result of the protests, in December 2012, a judicial committee was set up to study and take public suggestions for the best ways to amend laws to provide quicker investigation and prosecution of sex offenders. After considering about 80,000 suggestions, the committee submitted a report which indicated that failures on the part of the government and police were the root cause behind crimes against women. In 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated by the then President Pranab Mukherjee, several new laws were passed, and six new fast-track courts were created to hear rape cases. Critics argue that the legal system remains slow to hear and prosecute rape cases, but most agree that the case has resulted in a tremendous increase in the public discussion of crimes against women and statistics show that there has been an improvement in the number of women willing to file a crime report. However, in December 2014, the second anniversary of the attack, the girl's father called the promises of reform unmet and said that he felt regret in that he had not been able to bring justice for his daughter and other women like her.  Speaking to a British press reporter on 5 January, the victim's father was quoted as saying, "We want the world to know her real name. My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks.

The victims, 23-year-old woman, Jyoti Singh Pandey, (her real name) and her friend, Awindra Pratap Pandey, were returning home on the night of 16 December 2012 after watching the film Life of Pi in Saket, South Delhi. 

They boarded an off-duty charter bus at Munirka for Dwarka that was being driven by joyriders at about 9:30 pm. There were only six others on the bus, including the driver. One of them a minor, had called for passengers telling them that the bus was going towards their destination. Pandey became suspicious when the bus deviated from its normal route and its doors were shut. When he objected, the group of six men already on board, including the driver, taunted the couple, asking what they were doing alone at such a late hour.

During the argument, a scuffle ensued between Pandey and the group of men. He was beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious with an iron rod. The men then dragged Jyoti to the rear of the bus, beating her with the rod and raping her while the bus driver continued to drive. Medical reports later said that she suffered serious injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals due to the assault, and doctors said that the damage indicated that a blunt object (suspected to be the iron rod) may have been used for penetration. That rod was later described by police as being a rusted, L-shaped implement of the type used as a wheel jack handle.  The rape and torture of the young woman all happened in just over a few hour’s time.

According to police reports Jyoti attempted to fight off her assailants, biting three of the attackers and leaving bite marks on the accused men.

The partially clothed victims were found on the road by a passerby at around 11 pm. The passerby called the Delhi Police, who took the couple to the Safdarjung Hospital, where Jyoti was given emergency treatment and placed on mechanical ventilation. She was found with injury marks, including numerous bite marks, all over her body. According to reports, one of the accused men admitted to having seen a rope-like object, assumed to be her intestines, being pulled out of the woman by the other assailants on the bus. Two blood-stained metal rods were retrieved from the bus and medical staff confirmed that "it was penetration by the rods that caused massive damage to her genitals, uterus and intestines.

On the 19th of December 2012, Jyoti underwent her fifth surgery, removing most of her remaining intestine. Doctors reported that she was in a "stable but critical" condition.[  On 21 December, the government appointed a committee of physicians to ensure she received the best medical care. By 25 December, she remained incubated, on life support and in critical condition. Doctors stated that she was running a fever of 102 to 103 °F (39 °C) and that internal bleeding due to sepsis, a severe blood infection that can lead to organ failure, was somewhat controlled. It was reported that she was "stable, conscious and meaningfully communicative."

At a cabinet meeting chaired by Manmohan Singh on 26 December, the decision was made to fly her to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for further care. Mount Elizabeth is a multi-organ transplant specialty hospital.  The Sunday Guardian stated that the decision to move her was taken "when it was already clear that she would not survive the next 48 hours"

Unfortunately, the blood poisoning in her body was so serious, she later died  at 4:45 am on December 29  despite the efforts of the doctors to save her. 

Jyoti Singh Pandey was born and raised in Delhi while her parents were from a small village in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. Her father sold his ancestral land to educate her and worked double shifts to continue to pay for her schooling. In an interview,  he related that as a youth he had dreamed of becoming a school teacher, but at that time education was not considered important and girls were not even sent to school. "Attitudes are changing back home now, but when I left 30 years ago, I vowed never deny my children so sending them to school was fulfilling my desire for knowledge." He said that he put his daughter's education above that of even his two sons, stating: "It never entered our hearts to ever discriminate. How could I be happy if my son is happy and my daughter isn't? And it was impossible to refuse a little girl who loved going to school.

Awindra Pratap Pandey, the man who was Joti’s friend was also attacked. He is a software engineer from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, who lives in Ber Sarai, New Delhi; he suffered broken limbs but survived the vicious attack.

One of the perpetrators later cleaned the vehicle to remove evidence’ The police impounded the bus the next day.,  

All the 6 accused were arrested however, all of them denied the charges of rape, murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. Over the time of their trial, five were found guilty, while the sixth accused committed suicide in jail.

The convicts:

One of the accused in the case, whose name has not been given as he was a juvenile at the time of the incident, was tried as a minor. He was the criminal that shoved the iron rod into the victim’s Vagina, In August 2015, he was tried on the charges of rape and murder and was sentenced to three years, the maximum sentence for a juvenile, in a reform facility. He was released on December 20, 2015 and as per the reports, has since been staying in a charity home.  It is said that he has remained there for the fear of someone killing him.

The main suspect Ram Singh, also the first person to be arrested, was found dead on March 2013 in Tihar jail. It was reported that he hanged himself in his cell but his family members claimed that he was murdered.

The younger brother of Ram Singh and the third accused, Mukesh Singh was also charged with rape, murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. It was reported that it was Mukesh Singh who was driving the bus when the incident took place. He has been sentenced to death for the crime.

Vinay Sharma, the fourth accused, is the only one who had a school education and spoke English. He even sat for his first year university exams the previous year. He had always denied his presence in the bus when the gang rape took place. However, he too was sentenced to death in court.

The fifth accused Akshay Thakur was arrested from Bihar five days after the crime. He was charged with rape, murder and trying to destroy evidence. Akshay Thakur is married and even has a son. Although he had denied being in Delhi on December 16, he was nonetheless convicted and sentence to death.

The sixth accused Pawan Gupta had earlier claimed that he was not in the bus on the night of December 16 but was at a music function. However, in the days after his arrest he said in court he had done a bad thing and he should be hanged. He too has been sentenced to death.

These five heinous criminals have not been hanged as of yet since they are going through the appeal process. 

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