Seven years after a young medical student was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus in Delhi, a crime that jolted the nation, four of her killers were hanged at 5.30 am on Friday. The pre-dawn execution took place less than two hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the final petition of the convicts.
In the hours before that, the convicts had also petitioned the Delhi High Court, where their lawyer cited coronavirus for the lack of proper documents along with the hurriedly-filed appeal. A third court had already declared that they had run out of all legal options of stopping their execution.
Akshay Thakur, 31, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Sharma, 26, and Mukesh Singh, 32, were hanged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where they spent the last few hours in isolation and separate cells, barely eating.
They refused to eat and were up much of the night, said officials. The entire jail was on lockdown since last night, and officials said, few other prisoners in Asia’s largest prison facility could sleep a wink ahead of the first execution since 2015.
The convicts were woken at 3.30 am, around the time they learnt they had reached the end of the road in courts.
The four filed multiple petitions over the past few months, managing to stall their execution thrice at the eleventh hour. “Send them to the India-Pakistan border, send them to Doklam (at the border with China), but don’t hang them,” pleaded the lawyer of Akshay Thakur.
Several “dummy executions” had been carried out by the hangman, Pawan Jallad, as petitions stalled the execution repeatedly.
“We all have waited so long for this day. Today is a new dawn for daughters of India. The beasts have been hanged,” said Asha Devi, the mother of the young woman who came to be known as “Nirbhaya” or fearless. After the Supreme Court’s verdict, she went home and hugged her daughter’s photo.
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