Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
The Internet is now abuzz with scores of people appreciating Netflix’s new series ‘Delhi Crime’. Written and directed by Richie Mehta, the hard-hitting, brilliantly made 7-part web-series is set in the aftermath of the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape incident and focuses on the police investigation of the case.
On the cold night of December 16, 2012, a paramedic student was gang-raped and brutally assaulted inside a moving bus in Delhi. A male friend accompanying her was assaulted too, but while he recovered, the woman succumbed to her injuries, days after the assault.
The gruesome nature of the crime shook the collective conscience of the nation, with people taking to the streets to seek quick action.
While it was easy to seek vengeance and demand quick action, it was not easy for the Delhi Police to deal with the mounting pressure. Criticizing is easy, dealing with criticism is not. But an extremely hardworking, diligent team of the Delhi Police ended up nabbing the perpetrators within five days, leaving no scope for people to question their conduct.
‘Delhi Crime’ features actress Shefali Shah in the lead role. Her extraordinary performance as Vartika Chaturvedi, DCP (South District) of Delhi Police, leading a 41-member team that investigated the crime, has garnered a lot of praise. The inspiration of her character, however, comes from IPS Chhaya Sharma, former DCP (South District) of Delhi Police, whose unparalleled determination and will power to fight for Nirbhaya makes her a true hero.
The Logical Indian spoke to Chhaya Sharma, a graduate in Economics from Delhi University, about the investigation of the crime, the horror of which has refused to leave our minds till date.
Chhaya, who is now Deputy Inspector General (Investigations) with National Human Rights Commission, received a call from her operator Anoop Singh at around 2:10 am on the night of the incident. She had briefed her operators to call her if any important PCR call came to their notice that may deserve any attention. They were not supposed to keep information to themselves, as she would decide the final course of action.
“At the Safdarjung Hospital, where the victims had been admitted, I was appalled and shocked to learn the macabre nature of the incident and the resultant injuries. I was inspired to catch the criminals even more as they had dumped the victims without any clothes and had tried to run them over too which made it even more heinous and dangerous than one can imagine. The act surprisingly took place in a moving bus at 9:30 – 10:30 PM on a well-lit road in Delhi. The nature of the woman’s injuries was far more gruesome than any other rape injuries I have come across. It was a completely blind case – the victims and perpetrators were unknown to each other. The clues were ambiguous,” Chhaya says in a conversation with The Logical Indian.
Chhaya felt empathy when she met Nirbhaya’s parents. The brutality of the crime resulted in her leading the case with a fiercely enhanced passion to nab the culprits.
“I could not just delegate the work to the teams and leave, because I felt I could not allow even the vaguest clue to slip for any reason unless I was sure it was not needed. As a woman, I could understand the nature of injuries and the resultant pain the young girl was going through for no fault of hers,” she says.
The police had absolutely no clue who the perpetrators were, and could only gather a vague description of the white bus inside which the crime had been committed. There could have been scores of buses matching the description, and finding the accused was a task no easier than finding “a needle in a haystack”, as Chhaya described it. But with Chhaya leading the team with sheer determination to win in the face of a challenge as dangerous as this, five days was enough to nab all the suspects. In fact, some of them were caught within 24 hours of the incident. The accused include Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and a juvenile. While Ram Singh was later found dead in Tihar Jail, the juvenile was released in 2016 after completing a three-year term and the four others are currently on death row.
“Good teamwork, meticulous and diligent follow up on all clues, led to the best of my officers put on the job achieve what seemed extremely difficult at first. The bus was found within 18 hours of the incident, while the verification of the bus and the driver took almost two to three hours. The team had all types of officers, experts in their own fields and having different fortes. But all of them gave their best and worked in complete synchronization to nab the accused and follow up on the trial. Rajinder, K.P. Malik, Ved, Gagan, Neeraj, Naresh, Pratibha and Anil, were some of them,” Chhaya says.
These 41 members of SIT led by DCP Chaya Sharma had probed 16th December gangrape. The CP felicitated the SIT after the SC verdict pic.twitter.com/Z93HoV9DL5
— bhavatosh singh (@bhavatoshsingh) May 8, 2017
When asked about how she felt dealing with those who committed the horrific crime, she says, “Many a time, we do feel frustrated when they said illogical things and blatantly lied. However, years of experience has taught us not to get carried away with emotions, be it anger or anything else.”
She further says, “The Delhi Police had handled all the protests that followed the incident, patiently. Even before Vasant Vihar Police station and Safdarjung Hospital, the South District handled the protestors and media personnel with great restraint.”
Speaking about Delhi Crime and how much of Vartika Chaturvedi’s character is really a reflection of hers, she says, “You should actually ask the people who know me personally. However, up to the manhunt, the series has done a commendable job in depicting the fight for justice for the girl and her family despite a few characters amalgamates and there are creative deviations. The interplay and finer intricacies between most team members have also been depicted very naturally by performers, even though they are non-police persons. I have received a number of calls saying that when they saw Shefali, they forgot she was acting but saw my close reflection in her mannerism and nuances.”
Police officers are not angels or entities with superpowers. Like all of us, they are just human beings; the only difference is that while we are busy fighting our own battles, they are fighting battles for others. We tend to criticize and slam them every time a crime takes place, but how many of us are really aware of the tremendous effort they put to give us justice?
It is true that nabbing the perpetrators was only the beginning of a long battle. Their job as police officers is to follow the due process and bring the accused under the ambit of law through a well laid-out procedure. They adopt a victim-centric approach and stick to professionalism. The rest is up to the court. But without the effort of a really committed team to begin the battle, there would be no hope for justice in this world.
Making Indians proud, Chhaya Sharma this year was awarded the prestigious Courage and Leadership Award instituted by McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, USA. Each year, this award is given to honour an individual or group who has stood steadfastly for fundamental values and has inspired the world with their exceptional bravery.
“Two things I believe in strongly are credibility and integrity,” Chhaya Sharma says. Chhaya is an epitome of courage, confidence and empowerment. The Logical Indian salutes her for making us believe that no matter how many challenges come our way, a strong determination has the power to make us touch the skies.
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