On Saturday morning, the five rapists, who always huddle together and talk in whispers at Tihar jail’s community hall, didn’t ask for newspapers as they do every day for updates on the 23-year-old gang rape victim’s health.
A policeman stands guard at a barricade to stop protesters, near India Gate in New Delhi. Reuters
Charged with robbery, gang rape and attempted murder, they are not in solitary confinement and get to see newspapers and watch news channels. But they take interest only in their victim’s health update.
Around 11am, when they entered the community hall, they got the rudest shock of their life: About 12,500 co-inmates were praying for the soul of the woman they had raped and brutalised on December 16.
And the men, who show absolutely no remorse for their act, went silent for the rest of the day in their barracks. Except for Ram Singh, the main accused, who is lodged in barrack no. 5, the other four are lodged in pairs in barrack nos 3 and 7.
Dharmendra Kumar, special commissioner of police (law and order) said, the five would now be charged with murder and a special prosecutor has been appointed for the fast-track court.
A jail official said they must have thought that the worst they could get would be seven to 10 years for rape and attempted murder. Robbery, gang rape and now brutal murder may qualify them for the ‘rarest of rare’ category — read capital punishment.
Their juvenile partner in crime, however, may get a lenient treatment under the laws governing wayward minors. He may get away with a three-year term at juvenile correctional homes.