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Nirbhaya rape convict’s photo used in Election Commissions’ voter awareness campaign in Punjab

The posters were put up at different places inside and outside the district administration office complex before the Lok Sabha elections, yet no one spotted it for such a long time

A shocking incident of election awareness campaign using the photograph of a Nirbhaya rape convict has come to light. The Punjab Election Commission in its election awareness campaign in Hoshiarpur district had used the photograph of Mukesh Singh, who was convicted for the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case. The poster also had the photos of celebrities such as singer-actor Gurdas Mann and Olympian Abhinav Bindra. Pictures of the advert were shared widely on social media today as people expressed their shock over the glaring error committed by authorities.

Reportedly, these posters were put up at different places inside and outside the district administration office complex before the Lok Sabha elections, yet no one spotted it for such a long time. It was first detected on Friday by a visitor named Soravdeep Singh, who saw the board on the second floor of the complex. He said that he instantly recognised Mukesh in the advertisement as his photo were widely circulated in media when the crime was in news, and also he had appeared in the controversial documentary that BBC had produced after the gruesome rape and murder.

A Punjab minister while speaking to the media said, “It must be a case of mistaken identity. It isn’t written that he is the Nirbhaya rape-convict, so could be a case of mistaken identity, we will find out”.

It appears that someone picked up Mukesh’s image from the infamous BBC documentary while preparing the posters.

Mukesh Singh in BBC documentary

Mukesh was the one who was driving the bus while the incident took place in 2012. He was convicted and awarded a death sentence, along with four other convicts.

In November last year, an advocate had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking the execution of the death penalty awarded to the convicts in Nirbhaya rape and murder case.

Supreme Court had, in July 2018, rejected the review petition for the death penalty of three of the four living convicts of the Nirbhaya rape and murder case. The court has stated that they will hang. Six people, namely Ram Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Singh, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh, and an alleged juvenile were convicted of the heinous rape and murder of Delhi student Nirbhaya (not her real name). The juvenile was released after service two years in a juvenile home.

Nirbhaya was brutally raped in the most barbaric manner in a moving bus and was left to die on the road in December 2012. She was later sent for treatment to Singapore but had succumbed to her injuries. The case had generated widespread public outrage both nationally and internationally and has made a huge impact on the psyche of the nation.

The case made a profound impact on the Indian legal system and led to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, known as the Nirbhaya Act which ensured harsher punishment for sexual violence against women. The Supreme Court had in May 2017, upheld the death penalty awarded to the convicts by the Delhi HC.

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