A city court on Tuesday convicted five men of abducting and gang-raping a call centre employee in Delhi in 2010, one of the first cases that drew attention to growing sexual violence against women in the city.
The sensational gang rape of the 30-year-old woman, known as the Dhaula Kuan gang rape, transfixed the city for weeks and brought into focus the issue of safety of working women – especially women working late shifts at call centres – in India.
The prosecution said the men abducted the woman while she was walking home with a colleague near Dhaula Kuan after being dropped off by an office cab after midnight. They grabbed the women, threatened them with a country-made pistol and tried to force them into their vehicle, but the victim’s friend managed to escape after a brief struggle and call police. The five men drove to west Delhi’s Mangolpuri where they took turns raping her and then dumped her on an isolated road.
In a 131-page judgment delivered in a tense room filled with the convicts’ family and media, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat found Usman, Shamshad, Shahid, Iqbal and Kamruddin guilty of working together to kidnap, gang-rape, and criminally intimidate the 30-year-old rape survivor on November 24, 2010.
The sentence will be announced on Friday. The maximum sentence for gang rape in India is life imprisonment and a judge cannot give less than 10 years for rape.
Following the incident, Delhi Police ordered call centres in the NCR to drop female employees home safely and provide them security while travelling at night. The department also instructed PCR vans to be visible on roads and one officer to remain outside every such vehicle at all times.
All five accused said they had been falsely implicated. Usman’s counsel said police tampered with DNA evidence to procure a guilty verdict. The court dismissed the contentions and added that the convicts Usman and Shamshad had confessed to the crime in disclosure statements to police.
The victim's father told HT she was threatened and also offered money to withdraw her complaint.
“My daughter has received threat calls from unknown people to withdraw the case. Initially they offered us money to keep our mouths shut but when we did not accept their offers they started threatening us. We had to move her back home fearing her life,” said her father.
According to him, his daughter had fought to move from the north-east to Delhi where after a yearlong job search she managed to find a job in a call centre in Gurgaon.
A recent Commonwealth survey found that a rape has taken place every 25 minutes in India over the past 13 years, though activists say only 10% of sexual violence cases are actually reported to police.
The brutal gang rape of a young medical student in Delhi in December 2012 forced the government to amend existing laws and criminalise voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law, passed by Parliament in March 2013, also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.