Nirbhaya: ‘She Was Strong’ meet the men who cracked the case

The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighbourhood in South Delhi.

On the 5th anniversary of the Nirbhaya case, India is still a long way from creating a safe space for women. A set of recent incidents involving gruesome rapes of women across the country has yet again raised several questions about the Indian society and the judiciary. 

“She was a strong lady, and whatever happened in the bus she explained word-by-word. Because of her dying declaration, we got the case convicted.”

nirbhaya
Parents of Nirbhaya

In December 2012, Rajender Singh was in-charge of a special task force in Delhi, when he was called by the then-DCP Chhaya Sharma to immediately rush to Munirka in south Delhi. A 23-year-old woman had been brutally gangraped and Singh was asked to report to the hospital where she was and immediately start the investigation.

It was a crime which shook the nation.

Five years later, two key investigators out of the 41-member team of Delhi Police officers speak to The Quint about how they cracked the Nirbhaya case, the intense pressure to solve the crime and their feelings about the SC verdict upholding the death sentence of four convicts in the case.

‘Angered at What Happened, But Maintained Objectivity’

On 9 May 2017, the team who investigated the Nirbhaya case was felicitated by Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. Speaking at the event, Patnaik told PTI:

Not only did the officers crack it in a record time, they followed it up with collection of scientific evidence, systematic and painstaking work that led to a conviction in the case. 

The team has also said that they will be training their counterparts on how to frame chargesheets in complex rape cases. Rajendra Singh recalled how hard it was to conduct an investigation with continuing protests and media scrutiny.

We delivered against all odds – from facing media and public outrage to handling law and order situation. We were not given safe passage to our offices, there were heavy crowds and we had to jump over our walls from the back to reach our office.
Rajender Singh to The Quint

Talking to PTI, Singh said that they were ‘shocked and angered’ at the brutality of the crime, but “maintained our objectivity” and “focused their anger into the probe.”

How the Case Was Cracked

When will the accused be hanged? The world awaits their judgement.

The case was cracked when a bus was traced from a total of 381 white buses on the basis of a CCTV footage procured from the spot in Mahipalpur. This was the spot where the accused had dumped the victims.

Singh said that the wheel cap of the front tyre of the bus was missing and the vehicle had ‘Yadav’ written on it. Delhi Police relied on matching the DNA found on the victim’s body to those of the accused and using odontology, a branch of forensic science on bite mark analysis to make a strong case.

The then-SHO of Vasant Vihar police station, Anil Kumar Sharma, said that through the long years the case was in court, the police team and the family forged a lifelong bond. He told PTI:

Her family was there when I lost my loved ones. Yesterday, her mother visited us and spent a couple of hours with my family. We forged a strong bond.

Here are all the developments related to Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case:

2012

December 16: A 23-year-old paramedical student is brutally gang-raped by six men in a private bus in New Delhi. Her male friend was beaten up and they were thrown out of the moving vehicle in a semi-nude condition. The two were admitted to Safdarjung Hospital.

December 17: Widespread protests erupt across the country demanding strict action against the accused. Police identify four accused as bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta.

December 18: Police arrest the four accused.

December 20: Police record the statement of Nirbhaya’s friend.

December 21: The juvenile delinquent arrested from Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus terminal. The friend identified Mukesh as one of the culprits. Raids conducted in Haryana and Bihar to arrest the sixth accused – identified as Akshay Thakur.

December 21, 22: Police arrest Akshay Thakur in Bihar’s Aurangabad district and is subsequently, brought to Delhi to face trial. Nirbhaya records her statement in the hospital.

December 23: Protests break out in various parts of Delhi; prohibitory orders are defied and on-duty Delhi police constable Subhas Tomar is rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

December 25: Nirbhaya’s condition declared critical. Delhi police constable Subhas Tomar succumbs to his injuries.

December 26: Nirbhaya flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital by the government following a cardiac arrest.

December 29: Nirbhaya succumbs to her injuries and other medical conditions at 2.15 am. The accused to also face a murder charge.

2013

January 2: Chief Justice Altamas Kabir brings in fast-track court for quick trial in sexual offences.

January 3: Chargesheet filed against the five adult accused, who will face trial for murder, gang-rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences and dacoity among others.

January 5: Court takes cognizance of the charge sheet.

January 7: Court orders in-camera proceedings.

January 17: Fast-track court starts proceedings against the five accused.

January 28: Juvenile Justice Board confirms that the fifth accused is a minor.

February 2: Charges are framed against the five adults.

February 28: Charges framed against the juvenile.

March 11: The bus driver, Ram Singh, found hanging from his cell in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

March 22: Delhi High Court allows media to report trial court’s proceedings.

July 5: Juvenile Justice Board concludes trial; verdict reserved for July 11.

July 8: Fast-track court completes recording of testimonies of prosecution witnesses.

July 11: The juvenile is held guilty of illegally confining and robbing a carpenter on the night of December 16, before the incident.

August 22: Fast-track court begins final arguments against the remaining four accused.

August 31: The juvenile is convicted for murder and gang-rape and sentenced to three years at a probation home.

September 3: Fast-track court concludes trial.

September 10: Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan found guilty of 13 offences including grangrape and murder.

September 13: The court sentences the four adult convicts to death.

September 23: High Court begins hearing the death sentence references sent by the trial court.

2014

January 3: High Court reserves verdict on the convicts’ appeal.

March 13: The death penalty is upheld by the High Court.

March 15: Supreme Court issues stay-order on the death sentence.

April 15: The police is ordered by the top court to produce Nirbhaya’s dying declaration.

2015

December 20: The juvenile – who was a few months short of 18 on December 16,2012 – is released from the correctional home, triggering widespread protests across the country.

2017

February 3: Supreme Court says it would hear afresh the aspect of awarding death penalty to the convicts.

March 27: The Court reserves verdict on the convicts’ appeal.

May 5: The death sentence awarded to the four convicts is upheld. The Supreme Court states that the case falls under the ‘rarest of rare’ and added that the incident created a ‘tsunami of shock’.

May 6: The counsels of the four convicts said that the Supreme Court has bowed to public pressure in confirming the death sentences and they will file review petition.

May 11: Source in Tihar jail said that the four convicts are under depression after the Supreme Court verdict and are being given expert counselling.

November 3: Jyoti Singh’s father Badrinath Singh said that his younger son has become a pilot and thanked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for standing by them and helping his son get admission to the Uran Akademi in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli.

November 13: The Supreme Court said it would hear the pleas of the four death row convicts on December 12.

December 12: During the hearing of the plea, advocate ML Sharma, who represents Mukesh, one of the convicts, accused the state and the police of bribing two witnesses (the victim’s mother and father). Chief Justice Dipak Misra, sharply reacted to this and said, “What is this? Stop it. You can’t make such statements and that too at the review stage.” Mr Sharma was asked to make a case for review. The Supreme Court adjourned the review petition till January.
(With Inputs From PTI)

(With PTI inputs)

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam


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