New Delhi: Having fought like a warrior and using the law to get justice, lawyer Seema Kushwaha has finally emerged victorious after the 2012 Delhi gang rape convicts were hanged at 5.30am on Friday at the Tihar Jail.
“It comes as a big relief that Nirbhaya finally won the long legal battle. It is the first time in India’s history that four convicts have been hanged at the same time,” an emotional Kushwaha told Gulf News.
She has stood by Nirbhaya’s parents Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh throughout their relentless seven years journey fighting a legal battle in courts.
Though I was not able to save her life, I have fulfilled my responsibility as Nirbhaya’s mother.
Recounting her first meeting with Asha Devi, the lawyer explained that it had been very hard for her to fathom the brutality with which the crime was executed. That day itself she had resolved to fight for Nirbhaya.
“It showed that the perpetrators did not deserve leniency. So, in a way, it is not the end of the fight. Thousands of women across the country are still living in pain. The system has to work actively and each rape victim must get justice,” she said.
Meanwhile, Asha Devi said, “Though I was not able to save her life, I have fulfilled my responsibility as Nirbhaya’s mother.”
On December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old paramedic student was travelling inside a bus in the national capital after watching a movie. The student was brutally gang raped and murdered by six men who were travelling on the same bus. She was airlifted to Singapore where she died on December 29, 2012.
Out of the six men, one was a minor, who was released after serving a three-year term at a juvenile home. Other convicts included Ram Singh, who allegedly committed suicide in prison, while Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma were sentenced to death.
They used petty arguments and tried their best to delay the execution. From trial courts hearing the case to petitions filed before the President of India, the case reached several stages. All through, citizens of the country and activists supported the family.
Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women said, “It is a historic day. Nirbhaya’s soul must have found peace today. It sends a strong message to the rapists that there is no getting away after committing the crime and they will be hanged. Still, one hopes cases in the future do not take so many years to provide justice to the victims.”
After the convicts were hanged in the early hours of Friday, hundreds of people, carrying the national flag shouted slogans of ‘long live Nirbhaya’ and ‘Bharat mata ki Jai’ (glory of Mother India) outside the Tihar Jail. “Women will finally feel safer,” many said.
Ranjana Kumari, founder director of Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Social Research, felt that in a sense it was closure for the case for the entire nation, but especially for Nirbhaya’s mother, who went through a very painful period all these years.
“Also, it is a message for the rapists that if you commit this heinous crime and be barbaric with women, you will be punished. In fact, this is very important in view of the fact that lawyers of the convicts explored all legal remedies to get pardon for the attackers,” she stated.
Restructuring needed in society
The activist felt the need to see that such crimes have not stopped even after the shooting of four men suspected of raping and killing a young woman in Hyderabad by Telangana Police last December. The men were in police detention and being taken to the scene of the crime. The suspects were shot down when they tried to steal the officers’ guns and escape.
The CSR director said, “We did not support the shooting, as it violated the rule of law. Nevertheless, while people expected things to change, nothing of the sort happened. So, what we require is restructuring in society, which means respecting women and not treating them as commodity. They need to be given equal opportunities and access. And all this has to start from the family.”
Reiterating that over 170,000 rape cases were pending at different levels of court proceedings, she questioned, “Will the judiciary wake up to this call and begin the process of dispensing (cases) quickly? It is not enough to hang four people. The crime has to be stopped,” she held