India: Four men to be hanged for gang rape and murder of student on bus in Delhi

Four men convicted of the infamous gang rape and murder of 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi are set to be hanged this month.

Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur have been told they will be executed on 22 January, which the mother of the victim has said will “empower women” across India.

The men were informed of the date of their execution via video conference on Tuesday, after a Delhi court rejected a review petition filed by Thakur against their death sentence last month.

Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Asha Rani, whose daughter was killed on 16 December 2012, said the family would finally see justice done after more than seven years.

She said: “This will be the biggest day for us. My daughter has got justice. The execution of the four convicts will empower the women of the country.”

Indian law prohibits rape victims from being named, and so the woman in this case has been dubbed Nirbhaya by the national media, which means fearless.

Badrinath Singh, the victim’s father, added: “It has been a very long journey for justice, but it has eventually come and we are happy. The verdict will instil fear in the minds of criminals.”

The brutality of the attack against their daughter shocked the nation, with people seen protesting across the country demanding justice for the heinous crime.

Five men and a juvenile had lured the victim and her male friend into a private bus on the night of the attack.

They gang-raped and tortured her before throwing her and her friend – naked and bleeding – out of the moving bus.

The woman was first taken to a Delhi hospital, after which she was flown to Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore for further treatment, but she died 13 days later from her injuries.

All five men and the juvenile were soon arrested and charged with rape and murder.

Ram Singh, one of the accused, committed suicide at Delhi’s Tihar jail in March 2013, and the juvenile was put in a reform home and was released after serving a maximum three-year term.

The four remaining men will be executed at 7am on 22 January if the final two remedies available to them are rejected, which is considered all but inevitable.

Their options are the rare remedy of filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court, and filing a mercy plea for clemency with the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind.

AP Singh, lawyer for Thakur, said: “We will file a curative petition in the Supreme Court within a day or two, which will be heard by five senior judges of the Supreme Court.”

Assuming the remedies are rejected within the next two weeks, the executions will take place at Tihar jail.

The death penalty in India is reserved for the “rarest of rare” cases, but the government has consistently maintained it would keep the punishment in the statute books to act as a deterrent.

India is battling with a number of cases of sexual violence against women, and anger towards the justice system with regard to such crimes jolted the government into introducing new laws and stricter punishments.

Fast-track courts were established to hear such cases within a time-bound period.

But even though the punishments for these crimes have been toughened, the conviction rate remains very low.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 33,658 cases of rape and sexual assault in 2017, which was close to 3,000 per month or 93 per day.

Such stats make India one of the most dangerous places on earth for women.

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