A Police Officer, A Mother, A Father: How Resilience Ensured Justice For Nirbhaya
When Asha Devi answered the call, there was noticeable content in her voice.
"My seven-year long fight was not in vain. My daughter finally got justice," she tells The Logical Indian.
The four men convicted of the brutal gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya in December 2012 were hanged to death in Delhi's Tihar Jail on March 20, at 5:30 am, over seven years after the horrific crime.
One Mother's Resilience
On December 16, 2012, the 23-year-old paramedical student, now known as Nirbhaya, boarded a bus with a male friend. Six men in the bus attacked the two, brutally gang-raped and tortured Nirbhaya and threw them out of the bus.
A few days later, Nirbhaya succumbed to her dreadful injuries.
The incident shook the collective conscience of the country. Thousands of people took to the streets, demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice. The nation came together like never before, questioning the safety of women in the country and asking for changes in the legal system.
Nirbhaya's mother, Asha Devi, fought for over seven years to ensure that her daughter's murderers were brought to justice.
"Although I have often expressed my disappointment in the judiciary for delaying justice to my daughter, I cannot deny that it stood by me the entire time. It rejected every petition filed by the convicts, ensuring that the loopholes in the system did not deny justice. Justice was delayed, but not denied," Asha Devi says.
"This judgement in itself is an example. No matter what people have to say against capital punishment, I, as a mother, believe that this was necessary to give my daughter justice. This judgement was for every daughter of India," she adds.
One Father's Determination
Badrinath Singh, too, says he is thankful to the judiciary for restoring their hope in the legal system.
Months after the conviction, one of the six perpetrators was found hanging in jail. The youngest convict, who was a juvenile when the crime was committed, was released after three years in a reform home in Delhi.
"As a father, my only regret right now is that the juvenile had to be released. If a so-called child can commit such a heinous crime, he does not deserve to be treated any differently from the other convicts. Who can ensure that he will not do this to another woman, yet again?" Badrinath Singh tells The Logical Indian.
Seven years have not been easy for Badrinath Singh. Despite all the difficulties, he never considered giving up.
"My daughter has left me, but I pray for the safety of every other woman in the country. The convicts' execution was not just for my daughter's justice, it has marked a new beginning. People will be afraid to commit such crimes now because they know that the consequences will be the harshest. If one is guilty, he or she will be punished," Badrinath Singh says.
"My seven-year long fight for justice was not for my daughter alone, but it was my effort to ensure that no other woman in this world ever has to go through what my daughter went through," he adds.
One Police Officer's Resolution
Soon after the crime, people sought vengeance and demanded quick action. It was, however, not easy for Delhi Police to deal with the mounting pressure.
Criticizing is easy, dealing with criticism is not. But an extremely hardworking, diligent team of Delhi Police ended up nabbing the perpetrators within five days, leaving no scope for people to question their conduct.
The 41-member team that investigated the crime was led by Chhaya Sharma, who was then the DCP (South District) of Delhi Police. Her unparalleled perseverance to fight for Nirbhaya makes her a true hero.
"I am humbled and I now feel that all the challenges and problems were worth taking on. For me and my team, not only our own faith in the judicial system but also that of the victim's family, which looks at us expectantly for justice, all stand vindicated," Chhaya Sharma, who is now Deputy Inspector General (Investigations) with National Human Rights Commission, tells The Logical Indian.
"Not for death penalty per se, but seeing the injuries of the girl and interacting with her at that time, giving her justice had become my biggest motive. While we were being provoked for vigilante justice, my team and I had belief in the due process of law, and we believed that justice will be delivered if we follow this process," she adds.
In a country where the safety of women is questioned at every step, Chhaya Sharma's grit and Nirbhaya's parents' resolute effort to get justice delivered set an example. A struggle like no other, these individuals' effort to change the system is a new beginning which restores our hope in giving women in our country a life of peace and safety.
Their battle pushed for changes in societal mindset and the judicial system.
Their fight makes us want to do our part to put an end to patriarchy and misogyny in our society, and ensure equal treatment of every individual, irrespective of their gender, in the country.