A little over seven years after a 23-year-old medical student died following her brutal gangrape in a moving bus in south Delhi, four of the culprits were hanged to death on Friday. This was the culmination of a long judicial process during which the parents of the victim, Nirbhaya, swung between hope and despair. “She got justice today. Throughout the day, I have been looking at her photo and telling her she finally got justice,” said a visibly moved Asha Devi, mother of Nirbhaya.
The fifth culprit, Ram Singh, had been found hanging in his jail cell in March 2013, four months after the incident, while the sixth convict, found to be a juvenile, was let off as part of a reformation process.
The incident had shaken India’s conscience, leading to widespread outrage and demonstrations. It led to significant changes in the law - death penalty for rapists who brutalise their victims, full trial as adults for juveniles accused of heinous offences and fast-track courts for speedy trial in sexual assault cases. A Nirbhaya fund was set up by the Centre in 2013 to fund women’s safety initiatives but utilisation has been quite poor. The execution of the four - Vinay, Pawan, Akshay and Mukesh - was the first mass hanging in Tihar Jail.