As soon as the court delivered its verdict in the horrific December 16 Delhi gang-rape of a nursing student, one of the four convicts, Pawan Gupta, broke down.
Another convict, Vinay Sharma, was in a state of shock.
Mukesh Singh was heard saying, “We would have to face the consequences for what we have done.” The fourth convict, Akshay Singh Thakur, seemed unaffected.
Outside the court, it was a familiar scene of outrage. A group of protesters who had assembled outside the Saket Court Complex on early Tuesday morning broke into intense sloganeering after the verdict and demanded death sentence for the convicts.
The messages on the placards some of them were holding conveyed the oft-repeated fear that women in India are not safe.
“Every girl here prays for her own death, but if she is alive it is because of her determination,” read a slogan on a placard.
“We want rape free India,” another poster said.
Four of the protesters wearing black masks, with noose around their necks, enacted the hanging of the convicts.
Also, the cover of anonymity the cloaks might have provided to the convicts was blown off when their photographs were flashed by news channels and newspapers soon after the verdict. Probably, the media no longer wanted to accord the convicts, as one journalist said, “the face-saving shield of hooded privacy”.
“We have been part of the protest since the very beginning and have been tracking the case since it started. Our main demand is that the guilty must be hanged. We also demand death penalty for all rapists,” said Vikas Tyagi, who was leading the protesters.
The parents of the victim expressed his happiness over the verdict and said they want death sentence for all the accused.
Before the verdict, victim’s father told reporters, “They should be only given the death sentence so that it sends out a strong message to the people and nobody dares to commit such a barbaric crime in the future. If they do not get death sentence, my daughter would not get justice, and in the days to come, this crime will take dangerous form."
However, the lawyers of the convicts did not share the sentiment of the protesters. They said the crime did not fall in the rarest-of-rare category, which warrants death penalty.
“My clients were not even there at the time of the crime. The police have wrongly implicated them to save themselves from public outrage. We will certainly appeal against the verdict in the high court,” said AP Singh, counsel for two of the accused, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.