Residents of Ravidas camp are used to the cameras and ‘press wahlas’ thronging the narrow bylanes for reactions. Friday was no different.
It was 3 pm and everyone here knew that four of their neighbours had been given death sentence in the December 16 gang rape case. The sound of news bulletins were audible from behind closed doors but no one was coming out to talk.
A17-year-old girl, sister of Pawan, one of the convicts, was sitting on the floor, looking at cameras from a crack in her door. She seemed terrified. “Why are you all standing here, go away,” she screamed and threw a ball of cloth from inside to shoo away reporters. The photographers took advantage of that moment to bag a few clicks.
She was trembling, tears running down her cheeks. The TV in her 8X8 room was playing the visuals of her brother along with three other convicts who have been given the death sentence.
After a little persuasion and assurance that no one will click her pictures, she agreed to talk. “I have not seen my brother in four years. Today I see his photo on TV and they (headlines) are saying that he will be hanged. I always thought it just happens in movies. Will they really kill my brother and he will never come home,” she asked, wiping her tears.
The houses of the other two — Vinay and Mukesh — were shut. “Vinay’s sister was watching the news with me. Then all these people (reporters) came and she left as she could not take it. They ask us how we feel about this. What do they want us to say? That we are happy to see out brothers die. We know they will be dead and we cannot do anything about it,” she said.
Soon her emotion switched to anger. “Everyone is allowed to make one mistake. Why can’t they keep him alive? Keep him in the jail but do not kill him,” she said. “The day he dies, I will die too and the court will be responsible for my death. I am not going to live to see my parents suffer. I have seen them run around for the past four years, I cannot see them in this condition anymore,” she added.
A family member of Akshay said they have nothing to do with him anymore. “We have ended our relationship with him; Akshay is no more our family member; we have nothing to do with him,” a close family member told IANS over telephone from Lahang Karma village in Aurangabad district.
The neighbours around seemed unmoved by the decision. “We stopped talking to these people the day we found out about what they had done. We could not believe it earlier but now since the Supreme Court has held them guilty, they must have done it. They deserve it,” a woman said.
Their immediate neighbours were a little sympathetic. “We have seen the boys grow up. We still can’t believe that they did this. Their mothers have been in pain since their arrest. What they have done is not justified but the court could have shown some mercy. Keep them in jail, why hang the?” she said.