Abandoned crime scenes: 6 years after December 16 gangrape, what remains of the bus
A day after the crime, police recovered the bus from the Sant Ravi Dass camp in south Delhi, where four of the six convicts lived. The bus had enough forensic evidence for police to seal the fate of the six men who raped the paramedic on December 16, 2012.Updated: Sep 25, 2018 10:41 IST
The odometer reads two-lakh-twenty-six-thousand-seven-hundred-and-eighty-four kilometres. The tyres are flat. The dashboard and engine are covered in rust. Near the dashboard, under a seat, lies a rusted belt buckle.
Bus number DL 1PC 0149 belongs to Dinesh Yadav. It is case property in FIR number 413/2012 at the Vasant Vihar police station.
Around six years ago, a team of police officers were posted round-the-clock to guard this white bus. Thousands of protesters on the streets wanted it torched, destroyed. They were desperately looking for a way to avenge the horrors of a night when six men gang-raped a young paramedic student on this bus as it roamed Delhi’s roads.
Until a few months ago, it was guarded and parked at the Saket court complex. Yadav never got it back. The police did not release it despite Yadav applying twice. The case was still fresh and police felt that the bus would cause a law and order problem if it was ever allowed back on the roads.
A day after the crime, on December 17, police recovered the bus from the Sant Ravi Dass camp in south Delhi, where four of the six convicts lived. The bus had enough forensic evidence for police to seal the fate of the six men who went for a joyride that evening in December 2012.
As the country woke up to the news of the gang-rape, sporadic protests had started across the city on December 17. Everyone wanted the bus set on fire and destroyed. It contained vital forensic evidence and had to be taken some place safe. And so it was secretly taken and parked with many other buses on a road near Thyagaraj Stadium in south Delhi. A policeman in plainclothes was deployed there to prevent anyone from entering the bus, stealing it or burning it, if by chance anyone learnt of its location. It was on this roadside near the stadium that forensic experts inspected the bus to collect fingerprints that would later match those of the six men.
All these years, the bus remained parked at the Saket court complex and, later, at the Vasant Vihar police station. A police team guarded the bus closely, until April this year when the Supreme Court ordered the Delhi Police to get rid of all junk vehicles lying at police stations and clean their surroundings.
After a gap of six years, the notorious white bus was moved again. It took the same route it did that December night. Although this time, it had to be towed by a crane and secretly transferred to its present location in west Delhi where it lies parked.
HT correspondent Prawesh Lama and lensman Sanchit Khanna tracked the bus parked at a west Delhi dump yard. And they went inside. Here’s what they saw:
The second last seat on the bus has been lowered. It lay flat like a bed touching what remained of the bus’s last seat. Possibly, it may never have been lifted. Narrating the horror in her statement, the young paramedic student had told the police how her friend was beaten while she was taken to the back of the bus and sexually assaulted.
The yellow curtain on the windows, which hid the men while they assaulted the young woman inside, has lost its colour. It is also torn at most places. Some of the seat mattresses seem to have been removed or eaten by bugs. There are no windowpanes. It was smashed by protesters at the Saket court complex during the early days of the trial in 2013.
“Nobody will buy that bus now. It will be sold as scrap someday. Initially Dinesh Yadav tried getting the bus back, but later he realised that there was no point in taking its possession. The value of the bus may not even be more than Rs 5,000 today,” a police officer, who has been associated with the case all these years, said.
The officer said Yadav, who ran a travel agency, was arrested for fraud. He lived in Noida and owned 11 buses which were registered on a fake address in Burari, north Delhi.
“All his 11 buses were impounded. He was jailed for registering all the 11 buses on fake papers. He was a well-to-do man and ran a big travel agency. Money or the financial losses may not have been an issue for him but when you have to deal with police, prison and the courts, it is a different ball game. We have seen the best of men and women cracking under pressure,” the officer said.
In two years before the night of the incident, the bus had been fined eight times and impounded six times for different traffic violations. Each time, Yadav got his bus back on the road, after paying a fine.
For weeks after the incident, there were protests outside Yadav’s office in Noida’s Sector 62. For a year, Dinesh Yadav and his brothers had to switch off their cellphones. The two cell numbers were prominently displayed on the rear of the bus, pictures of which had been widely published in news reports. They received calls and abuses from across the city. And then they changed their office.
Other travel operators in Noida’s Sector 62 say, Yadav changed his company’s name and shifted to south Delhi. HT visited their new office but the owners there denied he was Dinesh Yadav or the man’s elder brother. HT also called on Yadav’s cellphone but the man refused to talk. Drivers outside the office said the Yadavs are back in the travel business.
This time, their buses also have GPS devices so that none of their drivers go rogue like the six did on that fateful December night, six years ago.
First Published: Sep 25, 2018 10:09 IST