Hours after a city court held four men guilty of executing the most horrendous incident of sexual assault to have ever been reported from the capital, a much sought-after sense of closure enveloped the south Delhi slum the convicted had called home till not long ago.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur’s kin and the few ‘friends’ they left at the Ravi Dass slum cluster near RK Puram in south Delhi, on the other hand, acquiesced to the law of the land but chose to cling on to hope -- if only for a day longer.
“I grew up with Vinay; we were in school, together,” said Poonam, a resident. “You can call us friends - but not very close ones, at that. However, he never ill-treated me or tried to. But if a court has found him guilty for the crime that he has committed, I’m sure he deserves to be punished.”
Sonu, another neighbour who claimed to have been bullied by Vinay as a child, however, said he was relieved. “People like him don’t belong in any neighbourhood which has other human beings.”
Other neighbours like Sarita Sharma, who runs a small provisions store in the area, claimed the verdict was a welcome one. “These boys and their families are alike, something else to your face and the opposite as soon as you turn around. Who needs people like that living with you, or even around you?”
The families of the accused, meanwhile, huddled together in apparent solidarity; the aging parents of Ram and Mukesh Singh - two of the main accused in the case -- though, chose to rush back to their ancestral home in Rajasthan immediately after the verdict was delivered.
“Who can argue with the law,” said one of Pawan Gupta’s cousins who did not wish to be named. “We aren’t saying that they aren’t guilty; we just wish the court gives them life imprisonment instead of death. Losing a family member is certainly worse than having them behind bars.”
Police sources associated with the investigation said the quantum of punishment in the case was likely to be reserved in a order on Wednesday and would be declared on Thursday.