For the last three days, the grocery-cum-snack store of 45-year-old Sunita Devi (name changed) has been witnessing roaring business. Still, she can't help but feel "terribly upset".
Ever since the police whisked four persons from this slum cluster in sector 3 of RK Puram, South Delhi, the lives of its 3,500-odd inhabitants have gone haywire. The reason for their arrest? They had allegedly raped a 23-year-old medical student, and assaulted her boyfriend, in a moving bus on Sunday.
The initial shock has now given way to anger. "Mediapersons keep coming through the day. Court cases will start now, and people will think that every male in this locality is a rapist. The sheer brutality of the crime has left us shattered as well. Please hand them (the accused) to us. We will serve them justice," she says.
A number of other women in the area echoed similar sentiments.
Students, particularly girls, seem agitated too. A Class XII student, who happens to be a neighbour of main accused Ram Singh, says, "Our life has become hellish. Most of us have stopped going to school. Everyone talks about the rape and looks down on us. We feel ashamed. But what's our fault in the whole affair? The camp has been disgraced for God knows how long."
Another Class XII student, a neighbour of co-accused Kalu, says, "They had very bad habits. Every evening, you could find them in an inebriated state. They must get either life imprisonment or capital punishment."
"We are praying for the girl and her friend. From what we know, her condition continues to be critical. This shouldn't happen to anyone. Their lives have been ruined. We don't know how to escape the shame and guilt," said an octogenarian on the condition of anonymity.