On the fateful night of December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, boarded a bus along with her friend in Delhi’s Munirka, unbeknownst to the horrible fate that awaited her. The girl, who was later dubbed as ‘Nirbhaya‘ by media, was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted, gang-raped and tortured in the moving bus by six men, who were already on board, including the bus driver.
The victim and her male friend were then thrown out on a roadside to die. Some passers-by found them naked and bloodied and called the police. The girl was admitted to a Delhi hospital for treatment but was airlifted to Singapore for further treatment after her condition deteriorated. Two weeks after the incident, she succumbed to her injuries and breathed her last in a hospital in Singapore. The accused in the case were given the death penalty which was executed in March this year.
The horrifying nature of the crime happened in the country’s capital, instantly made the national headlines, triggering a widespread protest across the nation that demanded India to reckon with its treatment of women. The incident shook the nation’s collective conscience and scores of people in various cities throughout the country carried out a candle-light march and sit-in vigils to demand justice for ‘Nirbhaya’.
The Nirbhaya incident was widely covered in the media, with organisations running a host of stories around the incident, the protests that it triggered in the aftermath of the brutal episode and the steps to be taken to ensure such incidents do not happen in the future. Through the media coverage, the Nirbhaya incident served to awaken the country’s moribund moral sense and its sensitivity towards the vulnerabilities faced by women in society.
However, other incidents of similar nature, which happened before December 2012, were not as fortunate as the Nirbhaya case to spark the same intensity of outrage among the population. Nor did it warrant the same degree of unswerving media attention.
February 2012 case of a 19-year-old girl from Delhi, kidnapped, gang-raped and left to die
One such blood-curdling incident was of a 19-year-old girl, who was abducted from Delhi, gang-raped, brutalised and left to die in a mustard field in a village in Haryana. The incident pertains to February 2012, about 10 months before the Nirbhaya incident took place, but it did not attract the media attention to the extent that the latter did. Unfortunately, the victim’s family is still waiting for the judiciary to dispense justice to them.
The case was recently highlighted in a social media campaign where netizens who were aware of the incident ran an online campaign demanding justice for the girl kidnapped, gang-raped and abandoned to die in a field in Haryana.
The Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat recently took cognisance of the social media campaign and met the victim’s family. He has promised all the legal support to the family of the victim to ensure that the perpetrators of the crime don’t go unpunished.
CM @tsrawatbjp has come out strongly in support of #justiceforkirannegi social media campaign & has promised all legal support to the parents of victim to ensure that perpetrators of this heinous crime don’t go unpunished. He thanked everyone on SM for raising this issue. pic.twitter.com/WI5pDzFLY7— Alok Bhatt (@alok_bhatt) November 25, 2020
Girl abducted from Delhi taken to Haryana where she was gang-raped and brutalised
On February 9, 2012, three assailants had kidnapped the girl from a spot just minutes away from their house in Qutub Vihar Phase-2, close to Dwarka sub-city in west Delhi. The girl was on her way back home from work with three female colleagues who lived in the same neighbourhood.
The girls were dropped off by a bus at around 8:30 PM in the evening. From there, they were supposed to walk through a mesh of lanes to reach their respective homes. When they reached a roundabout at Hanuman Chowk, three individuals in red Indica accosted them and started making lewd remarks to them. Unnerved by the men, the girls cried for help. But no one came forward to their rescue. Then three men hustled the girl in the car and sped away.
Shocking callousness and apathy shown by the police and the then Delhi CM Sheila Dixit: Victim’s father
A few hours later the police arrived at the spot. The grieving father of the girl was taken aback by the apathy displayed by the police personnel who had come there to investigate the kidnapping. “Get us a car and then we will follow the kidnappers,” one of the police officials reportedly scoffed at the girl’s father.
Enraged by this callousness, a raft of protesters decided to demonstrate outside the Chhawla police station. About 300 protesters staged a sit-in outside the police station for the next three days despite the police officials raining blows and lathis on them.
The victim’s father ran pillar to post seeking justice for his daughter. He approached the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit for help but was shunned away saying, “such incidents keep happening”. He claimed that the officials at the Chief Minister Office handed him a cheque of Rs one lakh and asked him to leave. Apart from this, no other assistance or compensation of any kind was given to him.
He also stated that neither Arvind Kejriwal, nor Rahul Gandhi took interest in a demonstration for his daughter. “I went to Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to mark my protest against the treatment meted out to my daughter. On one side, Arvind Kejriwal was giving a speech. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi was participating in a sit-in protest. None of them came and expressed their solidarity with me,” he lamented.
Perpetrators inflict brutalities on girl, pour acid in her eyes, insert broken bottle in her vagina
It took police three days to arrests the perpetrators-Ravi, Vinod and Ravi. All the three were residents of the same neighbourhood as the girl and had been released from Tihar Jail just a few days before they abducted the girl.
The interrogation of the three accused revealed chilling details of the fate that had befallen on the girl. The accused had reportedly mutilated and poured acid into the victim’s eyes, inserted a broken liquor bottle into her vagina, and abandoned her in the mustard field in Haryana to die. According to the girl’s autopsy, she had died on February 13, a few hours before her body was recovered. For more than three days, the girl bled to death and the forensics test confirmed rape.
Girl’s parents demand swift justice from the government and judiciary
It has been nine years since the incident, but the family is still awaiting justice. In 2014, the High Court had awarded death sentence to the accused in the case. However, the case then reached the Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court’s decision and upheld the death sentence. However, years after the top court gave its verdict, the victim’s family is still waiting for the slow moving wheels of the judiciary to roll on.
Early hearing petition in Supreme Court was filed by the parents of Kiran Negi and Myself.When Superem court can hear other Issues from Influential People.Are our daughters not important enough for our judiciary or is it only for high &Mighty? @narendramodi #JusticeForKiranNegi pic.twitter.com/wQbiCHaFYw— Yogita Bhayana (@yogitabhayana) November 20, 2020
“Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is a false slogan if the girls who have been assaulted and exploited are not delivered swift justice. Our daughter had gone through unspeakable brutality. Her perpetrators are still locked up in jail despite the Supreme Court affirming the lower court’s verdict of the death sentence. We urge the government to quickly dispense the justice in this case that has been going on since the last 9 years,” the aggrieved father of the victim said while making a poignant appeal to the judiciary and the Indian government.