The hanging of Nirbhaya’s rapists after seven long years is more disturbing to our sense of justice than relief
Now, Nirbhaya, the unfortunate daughter of India, can finally rest in peace as four of her violators were hanged to death at 5.30 am inside Tihar jail on Friday morning. Beyond that, everything else is a shame and a gross travesty of justice. The closure came seven-odd years too late for the 23-year-old paramedic, who was gangraped, tortured, humiliated and subsequently died of her grievous injuries. While the life of a bright girl, who was her lower middle class parents’ hope for a better future, was cut short brutally by the six demons, five of them continued to live and breathe long after she was gone. Five, because, Ram Singh, who was arrested along with the four other accused — Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Kumar — committed suicide in prison, while a juvenile, who subjected Nirbhaya to unimaginable physical torture and brutality, was freed after getting a mild punishment of three years in a remand home. That he roams the streets of India today, unknown and unrecognised, itself is a travesty of justice.
Their hanging has brought the curtains on a distasteful saga of willful distortion and exploitation of the laws of the land, making a mockery out of them and using every trick in the book to delay the inevitable with plea after plea in various courts. Had they been punished in time, they would have acted as a deterrent for all those with twisted minds who think they can get away with rape. Perhaps, it would have stalled copycat acts. Perhaps the Hyderabad veterinarian, who was brutally raped and killed, would have been alive. India, its people and the criminal justice system never remained the same after December 16, 2012. The only silver lining is that it has brought about changes in the law, widened the definition of rape, made it a non-bailable crime and taught the women of the country to report rape, talk about it and seek justice. Nirbhaya’s parents, in their decision to reveal the name of their daughter and their own identity, set an example for all other parents of the country to stand by their daughters in their darkest hour. It taught society to come out and fight for justice for the aggrieved, instead of victim shaming. It is another matter that NCRB data shows that the number of rapes reported shot up by 34 per cent between 2012 and 2018 from 24,923 to 33,356 and the Supreme Court of India itself laments that changes effected to criminal law after the Nirbhaya case haven’t yielded results.