“Der Se Hi Sahi Par Insaaf Mila,” Says Nirbhaya’s Mother. The Rest of India Continues to Debate

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“Der Se Hi Sahi Par Insaaf Mila,” Says Nirbhaya’s Mother. The Rest of India Continues to Debate

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Seven years after a medical student from Delhi was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on a moving bus in Delhi, four of her killers were executed on Friday. Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31), were hanged at Tihar Jail at 5.30 am. The other accused Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide while in custody and a juvenile was tried by the Juvenile Justice Board and served the maximum sentence of three years in a remand home. 

The case is closed, but the execution continues to be debated. The outrage over the Nirbhaya case pushed laws concerning sexual violence to be reformed, but is capital punishment really a means to an end? 

Hours after the hanging, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Justice has prevailed.” 

Karuna Nundy, an advocate at Supreme Court of India who helped frame India’s anti-rape bill following the gruesome gang rape, has expressed her complete dissent toward death penalty. “We might feel a particular way as individuals, as a society we must always be against the death penalty. I am,” she tweeted last night hours before the hanging. 

On Friday, Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India said he was against capital punishment, calling it “another dark stain to India’s human rights record”.

Aruna Chandrasekhar, an independent journalist, laments hanging as “spectacle + diversion, not justice,” in a tweet from earlier today. She further draws a straightforward compairision to explain her stance, “Sexual assault is abuse of power. Execution is abuse of power. See why it doesn’t work?”

Journalist Rituparna Chatterjee backed Chandrasekhar, stating how death penalty “does not put fear of law in rapists, just the fear of getting caught, increasing the risk to life of victims.”

The Justice Verma Committee, formed days after the horrific gangrape, and Law Commission had argued against executions of the convicts, viewing it as a “regressive step” even in rarest of rare cases, for punishment “cannot be reduced to vengeance”.

Even as influential members of the civil society rallied against capital punishment, the 

the general public continues to stand divided…

Justice delivered seemed to be the common sentiment. Punjabi singer Guru Randhawa, tweeted, “Justice  for #Nirbhaya , justice for everyone , justice for India. #NirbhayaCase FINALLY”

However, the choice of punishment isn’t the only talk that has surfaced on the internet. 

Under the existing legal provisions of  The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, the minor had been sentenced to three years detention in a reformation home. However, following the convict’s release, a new act of 2015 came into force from January 15, 2016 that allows minors to face trials into adulthood.

But the Delhi gang rape case has brought to the public’s memory how the juvenile was handed a sewing machine along with a sum of Rs 10,000 by the Kejriwal government and that his punishment was not “stringent enough”.

The juvenile is believed to have been the most brutal of all the rapists, something the Indian public hasn’t forgotten. 

After the execution though Asha Devi, the victim’s mother said, “Der se hi sahi par insaaf mila (delayed though, but we got justice).” 

Maybe it’s time for India to move on.  

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