Another year has passed. That hope and that excitement had gone cold a long time ago, and now, even the thoughts are dormant. Maybe they thought that how long would they fight for the one who is now dead.
She is affronted each day, for she was born to be assaulted. The Main Headline of every news channel was only able to give her a few minutes on her death-anniversary. She found herself on the front page of every newspaper, but in a small column at the corner. For she was now no longer a fresh "Kand", but was an old news.
The incident that made the whole world shudder, is now nothing but an old news. It isn't as though she was the first or the last case. Even today the conditions are getting worst with each passing day.
BBC made a documentary (Directed & Produced by Leslee Udwin. Editor, Anuradha Singh.) on that incident, and for reasons unknown to all, the Delhi Court banned the video. I watched it again and again, trying to understand what was in it that made it worth the ban. But could not find any answer.
I have brought for you, some of the lines from that documentary, typed out word by word.
On 16’th December 2012, on around 8:30 pm, a 23 year old medical student was on her way home from a movie with her male friend. The couple boarded a private bus, which claimed to be going their way. Her friend was badly beaten and she was dragged to the back, where she was gang raped by six men as the bus drove round and round the highway. According to the latest government figures, a woman is raped in India, every twenty minutes, but most rapes are unreported. This rape led to un-presidential protest erupt in across the India. The silence, has been broken.
The following were the statements by Mukesh, occupation driver, age 38, convicted of rape, unnatural sex, murder, sentenced to death by hanging:
“You can’t clap with one hand. It takes two hands to clap. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”
“Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night… doing wrong things, wearing the wrong clothes. About 20% girls are good.”
Ram Singh, main accused in Jyoti’s rape and murder. Mukesh, “Ram singh was my brother. He’d break all the limits. He was capable of anything.”
Vinay Sharma, convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder. Mukesh, “Vinay was always fighting. There is nothing good about him. He worked as a helper in a gym and used to fight a lot. Once he beat up a guy so badly that he had internal injuries. He used to take injections to increase his power. Once he took a double dose and couldn’t be controlled. He used to chased after girls and harass them.”
Pawan Gupta, convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder. Mukesh, “Pawan had a fruit stall and he also liked to fight. He used to hang out in the bus, chat and roam around with us.”
Akshay Thakur, convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder. Mukesh, “Akshay Thakur also used to help on the bus. He’d clean, wake my brother, make tea, bring milk. He has a wife and a baby. He cries and asks, ‘What will happen?”
The juvenile, convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder. Mukesh, “The juvenile is 17. His case is separate in the juvenile justice board. He also helped on the bus. He used to clean. He was very sharp at tricking people onto the bus.”
“On the day of the incedent on December 16th, the juvenile came for the first time since he left the job on the bus. Akshay was hanging out at our place. He had just washed the bus. My brother came around 5:00 or 6:00 pm. And he said, ‘Let’s cook. I’ve brought alcohol.’ So he drank, a lot. Heavy drinking. My brother and Akshay drank a whole bottle. We met Vinay and Pawan with my brother and went out to party. They said, ‘We’ve got money, let’s go to GB road and have some fun.’ GB road, that’s where ‘wrong’ things are done.”
“The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main person. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!” My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus, keep driving!” They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines. He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.” First, they tried the back door but it did not open. So they dragged her to the front. They threw her out. My drunken state wore off completely. I could not even control the steering. I only drove the bus. Its lies that my brother or Akshay took the steering. Only I drove. People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I went to the back and killed her.”
“They were saying, ‘Where’s their stuff?’ It was in the front. The mobile, the watch. Pawan put the shoes on, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff, they had no fear. And on the way, the juvenile said, ‘Sir, I threw it away. What I pulled out of her body, I threw it away. I wrapped it in a cloth and threw it out.’ We reached home in about 10 minutes. We agreed no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names. There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile, both cleaned the bus. Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house. I went to sleep.”
“I can’t say why this incident – this accident- happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.”
“My brother has done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night. The boy said, ‘It’s none of your business,’ and slapped him. There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped. They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone out of of shame. They’d learn a lesson.”
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should be silent and allow the rape. Then they would have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy."
“They matched Akshay’s and my brother’s (talking about the dental reports of the bites marks found over the victim's body). They were all doing wrong things. All should be punished. I was there and I am also punished.”
“People say, when you hang, they put this on your neck. The eyes pop out, the tongue sticks out, that’s what they say. Thay’ve made this such a big issue. People have committed bigger crimes and nothing has happened to them. In Barabanki after the rape, her eyes were taken out. Sometimes they put acid on girls. There was another rape where they burnt her alive. Wasn’t that wrong? If ours is wrong, then that was wrong, too.”
“The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now wheyn they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”
The following were the statements by Asha Singh, Jyoti’s mother:
“Whenever there’s a crime, the girl is blamed, ‘She should not go out. She should not roam around so late or wear such clothes.’ It’s the boys who should be accused and asked why they do this. They shouldn’t do this.”
“The surgeon said, ‘I have been practicing for 20 years, and we have not come across a case like this. The system by which the human body functions is all gone.’ He said, ‘We do not know which parts to join.’ She saw me and started to cry. ”
“I knew she would not recover. Because the doctor had said that she will not be okay.”
“Her condition deteriorated. That is what I remember. She was very troubled. She was in great pain. We could not talk. That is what I remember… We were by her side in her last moments, but we were helpless to do anything. That is what hurts me so deeply and it’s something I’ll always remember.”
The following were the statements by Badhi Singh, Jyoti’s father:
“She will not survive more than 2 to 3 days. Given what has happened, it is hard to believe she’s survived. We do not understand how she still is alive. (The doctors had told him)”
“To call them (the accused) human is to give humanity a bad name. If we call them monster, even monsters have some limits. These are totally the devil. They went beyond all limits of evil. Even the devil himself couldn’t commit such a terrible crime.”
“We are hurt and shocked that the juvenile will be freed after committing such a huge crime. We are like a bird whose wings have been cut. We cannot fly. We live with fear and anxiety.”
“When I saw them (the accused), they had no fear in their eyes, no shame. No remorse at all for what they had done.”
The following statements were of Satendra, Jyoti’s tutor and close friend:
“In 2006, Jyoti’s mother asked me to tutor her daughter. Jyoti’s family is traditional, but their thinking is modern.” Asha Singh, Jyoti’s mother, “We sold our ancestral land to pay her fees.
“Jyoti used to say that the first and the biggest problem in India is mentality. The differences between a girl and a boy created in people’s minds from birth. In society, if we hear the same things about boys and girls, obviously a certain view is created.
“Jyoti studied at a medical college, in Dehradun. Her family was very poor. Her father worked as a labourer at the airport. She had to work part-time to pay for hostel expenses. Her English was really good. So she worked night shifts in an international call center. She worked from 8:00 pm until 4:00 am. I asked her, ‘How can you manage all this?’ She said, ‘I have to and I can!’ She would sleep just 3 or 4 hours a night. And she had dreams. Many dreams. Big dreams. She wanted to help the poor. She wanted to build a hospital in her ancestral village, where there were no medical facilities. She used to say, ‘A girl can do anything.’
“What was Jyoti’s crime? That she went out at night?”
“Those who commit heinous crimes have no remorse afterwards. The law will punish them, and must do so, or they will be fearless. But if one monster is removed, will the society change? No. The people of this society and their mind-set needs to change.”
The following statements were of the defense lawyers:
AP singh, defense lawyer for the rapists:“If very important, if very necessary, she should go outside. But, she should go with their family members, like uncle, father, mother, brother, grandfather, grandmother, exc. She should not go in night hours with her boyfriend.”
“A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape, are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day0to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then first you should start from your own neck.”
“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such thing. I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by this reply.”
ML Sharma, defense lawyer for the rapists,“A female is just like a flower. It gives a good-looking… very softness performance, pleasant. But on the other hand, a man is just like a thorn. Strong, tough enough. That flower always needs protection. If you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt. But if you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshiped."
“That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.”
“They left our Indian culture. They are under the imagination of the film culture, in which they can do anything.”
“She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”
“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that does not have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”
“He (the rapists/criminals) would like to create a change. He will put his hand… Insert, hit! It just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside.”
The following statements were of Dr Sandeep Govil, jail psychiatrist of the rapists:
“They all actually came from very deprived conditions, where their surrounding are not a very good place, and there’s overcrowding. That’s a very common scene that women have been tortured and beaten, or sexually abused by their male partners or husbands. And they have seen prostitution also running in their area, in the neighborhood area also. So it’s not very new to them. That’s what actually makes them again and again surprised, “Why us?”
“I would say as a psychiatrist that they are actually normal human beings with the anti-social traits in them, which actually manifested very badly at that time. They have been doing such crimes and easily getting away with that. So that whenever they feel there is a chance they could trap a woman, they do it. There are people in jail who have done 200 rapes and been only punished for about twelve. They say they only remember 200, they might be doing more. That’s the state of affairs. They say that’s been happening and that it’s a ‘man’s right’. They don’t think of the other person as a human being. The negative cultural values about women are also very, very important in this type of act.”
“The main mental set-up is, ‘Its’s our right. We are just in enjoyment mode, and everybody has a right to enjoyment. Big people, you know, somebody who has money, do it by payment. We have the courage, so we do it by our courage.’ That’s what they feel.”
The following statement was of Dr. Rashmi Ahuja, gynecologists, Safdarjung hospital:
“She was brought to the gynecology room by the police constables. She was bleeding very much from her veginai. Definitely she was scared. *Mukesh had the list of injuries read out to him* “She was conciuos but she was not sobbing out her pain. She was describing everything out in detail. She was slapped on her face. She was kicked on her abdomen. And she had multiple injuries over her body, over her private parts. There were multiple bite-marks, over her face, over her lips, over her limbs.”
The following statements are of Amod Kanti, Head of Prayas, NGO for rape victims and juveniles:
“Public opinion should not become the reason for any kind of conviction or even death-sentence at times. I don’t think they belong to that kind of social order or that kind of country, India is not that kind of country. Many countries are like that, they hang the person on a pole, kill the men straightaway, cut his hand, throw him away. And that kind of thing doesn’t happen in this country. I mean this is a democratic country and a very liberal country from that point of view. We have very rich traditions of tolerance also. So probably from that point of view the demand for death sentences in many cases is not in the spirit of India’s history.”
“There a so many problems. A country which is so proud of itself today. A country which claims to be the fourth largest economy. One of the most powerful countries in the world, you know. 50% of India’s population is living below poverty line, living a life which is not worth living. Now, because we run a home for juveniles, which happens to be where the juvenile justice board, the children’s court was situated. So one had an opportunity to what exactly was behind this child (talking about the juvenile of the rape case). This boy was like millions of Indian children, who are street children, trying to survive. Sometimes working in a dhaba, small tea-stalls, sometimes working on a bus. And then whatever happened after that in the accompany in which this gang rape took place and he was parted with. This boy in my opinion did not have any serious allegation. This boy had suffered endless misery in life. He was child in need of care and protection. When a family could not take care of a child, and the child at the age of eleven drifted and ran away from home. And was a typical profile of a child who had to be like this in a way.”
The following statements are of Kavita Krishnan, secretary all India progressive women’s association:
“Most of us heard about the case very soon after it happened on December 17th , the very next day. And almost immideitly the students of the JNU University, there is a very powerful student union there and student movement there, so student organizations and student unions there immideitly came out on the streets to protest on the same day.”
“Its always difficult to tell why one particular case and why you know its like a damn bursting. It doesn’t happen out of one case alone and I think its an accumulated angle that bursts out.”
“From day one, it had stopped being about this case alone. It had become about rape culture and about women’s generalized anger, against being told that they could do something to actually remain safe.”
The following statement was given by Sheila Dixit, delhi chief minister (1998-2013):
“If you come from a family where things like these are seen by those who are growing up, they tend to look at it very differently. They say, ‘Oh well my sister was given less milk then I have. I got a whole glass of milk because everybody in the family thinks that I’m a boy and I must get more energy, and my sister is given just a little bit of milk. Or she eats last of all. Now these are society’s practices which somehow get embedded in the minds. So many of our people grow up thinking that a girl is less important than a boy. And because she is less important you can do what you like with her.”
The following statements were of the family of the accused:
The Juvenile’s mother, “We woke up in the morning. The police came. They said, ‘Your son has been caught, he has done such and such.’ He has been gone for three years. I thought he had died somewhere. When the police came, I found out he was still alive.”
Puneeta Devi, Akshay Thakur’s wife, “I am sure my husband would do no such a thing. Bad times will pass. Am I not a daughter of this country? Don’t I have the right to live? Will there be no more rapes in Delhi? Will you hang all rapists? A woman is protected by her husband. If he’s dead, who will protect her and whom will she live for? I also don’t want to live. Priyanshu, my son, is a child. He understands nothing. I will strangle him to death. What else can I do?”
The following statements were of the members of the rape review committee:
Gopal Subramanium, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, co-author of Verma Report, “Nobody is a monster that he is excluded from society. After all, any society which has these rapists, has to take responsibility for them. And this is the first thing which the feminist callers who came before the Verma Committee said that these are our people. These men are ours.”
“This was not just about rape and an amendment to a criminal law. We three (The members of the rape review committee) were very determined that we are not going to let down the society. Offences against women were just a part of the story. The full story needed to be told. We felt that we will fail the fantastic civil society which gathered around India Gate with candles, if we did not tell them the true story.”
“The conversation to deal with inequality was overdue in India. Everyone was there out in the open, demanding justice, demanding accountability. And when you do demand accountability, establishments do feel highly threatened. They first thought that this is a movement which can be dispersed by the use of tear-gas shells, boost pipes. But extraordinary were these protestants.”
“This was in my view a very important and momentous expression of hope, by civil society.”
Leila Seth, former chief justice, member of rape review committee, “It was extremely brutal. And it is unusual to find that they not only raped the girl, they put an iron rod in her and took out her internals. Its something I can’t understand. What kind of human being are these who would do something like that.”
“ There are many gang rapes taking place in India and there has been many that has taken place over the years. But somehow this one caught the imagination of the people. For one thing, it happened in the capital city. It happened in this evening hour, which was not a late hour, around eight ‘o clock. A young girl and a boy were returning home from a movie. I mean it was most normal kind of a behavior.”
“The constitution of by faith equality, it hasn’t happened because the men don’t allow it to happen. They feel that that’s their hold on women. And it’s also because of the historical tradition, you know, of patriarchy which has been over the years imbedded into men and into women.”
“In Maharashtra, Bombay, once they discovered that there were 10 thousand fetuses that were destroyed, 9,999 fetuses were female fetuses.”
“These things will change, it’s only a question of how hard we push. And I think that if the young people are going to push, we are going to get it.”
“The only way you can change things, is education. Because education gives a girl, self-importance, self-worth. And it also teaches young men, the value of women.”
“They (the protestants) went out day after day, protesting. It just shows that they wanted change. They believed that change would take place. It was the first time that young people had gone out to protest without a leader, without being called out by any political party. And the media was all over the young people’s protest. They day by day showed how they were protesting. And I think that the government was then forced, into setting up a committee and calm things down a bit.”
The following statements were of the Delhi police:
Raj Kumar, patrolman, “On December 16th, it was very cold. I was patrolling in this area. I heard a voice from the left screaming, “Help! Help!” I saw a boy and a girl lying on the ground, naked. Both were here. I went to hotel 37 and got a bed sheet and a bottle of water. I tore the bed sheet in two and gave the girl and the boy a piece each. About 30-35 men gathered but no one helped. I even said, ‘Please help!’ but no one stepped forward. After some time, a PCR van arrived and they were taken to the hospital. She looked like a cow looks after giving birth to a calf.”
Pramod Kushwa, addinonal deputy commissioner Delhi Police, “The first accused, we were able to identify the bus within the span time of 24hrs. We checked all the hotels along the route and on a hotel there was one particular camera which was facing towards the road. On the cctv footage of that camera we noticed that there was a bus which had crossed the area twice, which was unusual for a bus that was going on a highway. And on a closer look we came to know that this bus was a school bus. And because of these clues we were able to narrow down our search to 50-60 such buses.”
“For the first time in this case, we had used dental forensics. The bite marks on the body of the victim matched with the dental impressions of one of the accused. Which was a very clinching piece of evidence.”
“The whole idea was that the case was so brutal that conviction if it was earlier then it gives a good message to the society.”
“I’ll say a strength of more than 2 thousand persons, they were commanded by the special investigation team and everything was put into this case. There’s a juvenile in constrict of law, who is subsequently arrested on 21st.”
“In such cases like murder, rape and all such heinous cases we normally get the time permitted for us to file charge-sheet is 90 days. We are supposed to file the charge sheet in the first 90 days. But in this case, we had filed charge-sheet in 17 days.”
“It’s a very safe city, absolutely safe city. Very safe city, as safe as any other capital of any other developing/ developed country. And safe in general sense and even safe for women."
The following statements were of Dr Maria Misra, writer & historian, Oxford University, Keble College,
“Her death has made a huge difference. I think that first of all it has really brought home the issue of the problems of the weight women obsessive, young and independent women obsessive in Indian society. Its opening up a debate in India, that I think hasn’t been held publically and widely about exactly what the relationship between men and women should be.”
“The former report was that a special judicial committee, charged by the government of India with canvassing all opinions about how the problem of rape could be dealt with. And 80 thousand responses were sifted through by this group of expert senior judges. It was a landmark report, and it was striking in its extreme liberalism. It made a number of very warm recommendations. For instance, the things much happen much faster in the Indian judicial system. The definition of sexual assault needed to be broadened. That the language of modesty and shame needed to be removed from the Indian Penal code.”
“There are a whole range of indicators that women are not well treated. Short of rape there are high range of acid attacks, high incidents of domestic beatings. There is of course the extraordinary question of sex ratio differential in India. I.e. the notion of there are all missing woman, demographically speaking. This seems to reflect a number of things but possibly a pre-birth sex selection, in feticide.”
“The protest kept coming, kept escalating and escalating. Not just in Delhi but in Kolkata, in Bengluru, in Bombay. This was something that was actually quite qualitatively different. I really couldn’t recall an event like this in India before.”
“Before this incident, there was still a very-very strong culture of shame around rape. That to be rapped was deeply shaming. That to be raped was worst than to be dead, in fact. And then you would get politicians, saying the most extraordinary things about the rape victims. That it would have had been better if the rape victim had died because if she lived she would be a walking corpse.” “How coming soon a young woman who represented a certain symbol of new aspiration. Sent shock waves to the society. In the last 15 to 20 years, the economy has changed a lot in India and it has created opportunity for young women, single women to come out and work. And it has raised expectations across the range of classes of young single women. Of how they should be allowed to live their lives.”
A news report on 11th of March 2013, “Ram Singh, one of the prime accused in the gruesome December 16th gang rape of a 23 year old girl, had allegedly committed suicide in the special cell in Tihad Jail this morning. The incident took place in Jail number 3 at around 5:45 in the morning.”
Suffering from the trauma and pain of the incident of 16th December, On 29th December 2012, Jyoti had passed away.
The world was not able to tolerate this repulsive incident; we have lived it through. Yet why are we so quite?