Asha Devi’s voice falters as she struggles to stay calm.
“Today, it has been exactly seven years since I lost my daughter,” she says.
Seven years ago, Asha Devi, a woman from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, did not know what to say as scores of microphones were thrust in her face. Her voice is louder and stronger now, but all these years have done little to numb the excruciating pain in it.
Seven years ago, on this day, her daughter Nirbhaya was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi and left to die.
Nirbhaya was a 23-year-old paramedical student, a woman like you and me, who was chasing her dreams. She was working hard to make her family proud.
The fateful night of December 16, 2012, changed everything.
“It has been a very long wait,” Asha Devi tells The Logical Indian. “I am fighting every day, it’s like a never-ending intermission before justice is delivered. My daughter was taken away from me, and the perpetrators deserved to be brought to justice years ago.”
With each passing day, whispers about the convicts of the Nirbhaya case being hanged are becoming louder. All the four convicts are lodged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
“Not a day passes by that I don’t remember my daughter. Not a day goes by that I don’t fight for justice. Tell me, how is it fair that these four men got years to plead for mercy?” she asks, with despair and anger evident in her voice.
The Supreme Court confirmed capital punishment for the four men in 2017. Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma later filed pleas asking the court to review its judgment, but the court refused.
Tomorrow, December 17, a three-judge Supreme Court bench will hear the review plea filed by convict Akshay Singh.
“My battle is ongoing, and it will go on until the convicts are hanged. The need of the hour is to speed up our justice system. Because of its unbearably slow pace, all the procedures that take forever to conclude, people tend to give up. They get tired of fighting,” Asha Devi says.
“I am tired too. But I am not giving up. Not until my daughter gets justice. She was a wonderful girl, the kind of daughter any parent would want to have,” she adds.
The 2012 gang-rape and murder jolted the nation and shook its collective conscience. People took to the streets, raised their voices, demanded justice. The nature of the assault was so horrific that the country was shaken to the core.
Similar protests were witnessed this year following the gang-rape and murder of a Hyderabad veterinarian on November 27.
Talking about this incident, Asha Devi says: “Seven years since my daughter was killed, the system has done little to ensure women’s safety in the country. A kind of unmovable fear has been ingrained in the minds of our girls. They are still afraid of the dark, they still feel intimidated by patriarchy.”
“My daughter may eventually get justice, but the real change will be brought about when no woman in the country is afraid to go out alone and achieve her goals,” she adds.
As the conversation nears its end, Asha Devi says with a slight quiver in her voice: “Mujhe meri beti yaad aati hain (I miss my daughter). I wish the best for all the daughters of India.”
“We need to make them feel safe. They deserve to be at peace.”