Death for the #DelhiGangRape Accused but is it Partial #Justice?
Nine months after the brutal gang rape and assault on a college student on a bus in Delhi, on 10 September 2013, a court in India delivered a guilty verdict. It ruled that 4 of the 6 men involved were guilty of gang rape and murder, and pronounced that it was their intent to kill the victim. The court pointed out that disemboweling her with an iron rod, throwing her off a moving bus and trying to run her over, were tantamount to intent to kill.
On Sept 13 the court sentenced the 4 men to death under Indian law that allows capital punishment to “the rarest of rare cases.” One other man involved, the one who used the iron rod and was the most brutal of the gang, was deemed a juvenile, and hence given a lenient sentence of 3 years in a reform home in accordance with Indian law. The sixth man who was killed in prison, apparently had committed suicide.
However questions remain. And as this case moves from the lower courts to the upper courts, we hope that the public and media will push for answers to these unanswered questions listed below.
The answers to these questions are very important for two reasons:
1) To ensure that full justice is done to the victim. This means all who were involved from the time of the incident to the time of her death have legally accounted for their role.
2) To ensure that this case indeed is a watershed case for a larger change that’s going to shake up the social, political, criminal, legal, and judicial systems that not only tolerate escalating violence on women in India, but also perpetuate it through rampant misogyny, apathy and corruption.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:
1) ROLE OF POLICE: The victim’s male friend who was also battered and is the sole and surviving eye-witness in this case, in later interviews talked about how the police arrived 45 minutes after the call for help at the crime scene, but also stood around for a long time and debated among themselves whose zone that case fell within, while the victim lay on the road bleeding to death! The police has blatantly denied this. While the court accepts the survivors statement on the accused, why shouldn’t their statement about the police also be accepted? Legally isn’t it important to ascertain why the police have rebuffed the witnesses statement, why they did not immediately send for an ambulance upon seeing the state of the victim, and why the victim was not taken to the closest hospital? Would this delay have played a role in blood loss and the deterioration of the victim’s condition and impinged on her chances of survival?
2) ROLE OF HOSPITALS: At the hospital the victim and her male friend were dumped on the floor of the hospital, where they lay for long without any clothes, cold and bleeding, before they were given medical aid. No one even gave them a blanket to cover themselves with. Would this delay have played a role in blood loss and the deterioration of the victim’s condition and impinged on her chances of survival?
3) ROLE OF POLITICS: After the victim had been operated on and had stabilized and had just begun communicating, she was put through a grueling, police statement, twice! Both statements were almost identical, and apparently it was an ego clash between different offices that led to this. Why was the victim made to repeat her testimony particularly in her fragile condition when just one would have sufficed? What impact did this kind of stress, apathetically imposed, have on her condition?
4) ROLE OF GOVERNMENT: The victim was transferred to a hospital in Singapore against the advice of the doctors who had been tending to her from the start. Travel, particularly by air, for someone in her condition was inadvisable, but we are told it was not decided by her doctors but by government officials. Why was the advice of the team of doctors who had initially stabilized her over-ridden? Who are the government offices and officials who were directly involved in this decision and why did they take this decision? The victim’s family is poor and not educated and had to go along with whatever was told to them. What exactly was told to the family? If the victim had a wealthy family who could afford private doctors, powerful lawyers, and legal advisors, what would they have done under the same circumstances?
5) ROLE OF CORRUPTION: Why was the accused Ram Singh, who apparently committed suicide in jail not kept in solitary confinement, under suicide watch? Ram Singh had a prior criminal background. He apparently had stalked and forcefully married a woman, who was killed under unexplained circumstances, within a year. What are the chances for a sociopath like this to commit suicide? Might Ram Singh have been murdered as his lawyers have claimed, because he may have blurted information that needed to be suppressed? How was a man with this kind of a criminal background hired to drive this bus, which apparently also ferried school children? The bus was being run on illegal permits given out by transport officials, and the papers for the bus apparently have gone ‘missing?’ Who was involved in granting illegal licenses to these buses? From the pattern of this attack, the manner in which the couple was lured on board, and then attacked, isn’t it likely that this bus, or perhaps many other illegal buses plying in the city, have similarly lured unsuspecting women on board and assaulted them? It is highly unlikely that women, especially if they are college educated, middle-class and or working would report such attacks because of the cultural barrier of ‘class’ silence. In the recent gang rape attack on a photo journalist in Mumbai, it is clear the ‘gang’ had targeted other women too. Might Ram Singh have provided testimony to confirm that in the Delhi case? To what extent would this information be known to police and people licensing this bus?
5) ROLE OF COURTS: This trial despite being put through a fast-track court dragged on for 9 months before a conviction and a sentence was handed out. This was actually ‘faster’ than most cases in India that drag on for years. One of the reasons was the massive mobilization of public support and national and international media that kept up the pressure on this case to proceed. However, the Indian courts can move faster! This is evident for e.g. in the case of a Swiss tourist who was gang raped in India in mid-March. In the dark of the forest where the attack happened in the middle of the night, she couldn’t possibly see the faces of her attackers. But not only were all the attackers traced and arrested rapidly but were all handed a life-sentence within 4 months. So why despite eye witness testimonies, and identification of the rapists by both victims in the Delhi case, did the case take longer?