Will Delhi Gang-Rape Help Speed Up 8-Yr-Long Case?
Eight years after the heinous crime was committed, the Juvenile Justice Board, Lucknow, has on 15th January 2013, ruled that the prime accused in the Lucknow Aashiana colony gang rape, Gaurav Shukla, was a major when he allegedly raped and brutalised 13-year-old domestic help Zahira (name changed) on 2nd May 2005, along with his five friends.
Zahira was abducted when she was returning home that summer evening from work. She was forced into a moving car, her clothes taken off and she was allegedly repeatedly gang-raped for five hours by six boys belonging to the affluent families. Not only was her modesty outraged, in a sadistic and inhuman manner her private parts were burnt by cigarette butts. She was later taken to Shukla’s plot in the Aliganj area and brutally assaulted there too. After midnight, she was thrown out from the car at a city bridge, unconscious and bleeding profusely.
As the prime accused Gaurav was the nephew of a mafia don-turned-politician, Anna Shukla, several strings were pulled to cover up the whole case. While three of the accused were declared juvenile, two were convicted. Shukla’s bid to prove him juvenile continued. In fact, the Juvenile Board had even declared him a minor in 2005, but thanks to the outcry by social workers the juvenile board was forced to have a relook at the documents. After eight years, it was proved that Shukla was in fact a major at the time of the crime. The court trail in the case began on 21st January. Shukla now faces the additional charge of forgery, fudging documents and misleading the court.
“IS SHE NOT A DAUGHTER OF INDIA TOO?”
“While I have full sympathy for the Delhi gang-rape victim, frankly I would be lying if I do not say that I and many like me are disappointed that there has been no such mass movement of public emotion after the Aashiana rape case. Is the victim not a daughter of India too?” asks Rekha Verma, academician and social activisit, who has been supporting Zahira and her family all these years.
“2005 sey hum baith to payen nahi hain” (Since 2005 we have not been able to sit, said Verma.
While Zahira’s family and her supporters have welcomed the JJB verdict declaring Shukla a major in 2005, Verma is afraid of case dragging so log. Meanwhile, Shukla got married and he is now a father also. While Zahira and her family have been running from pillar to post for justice.
“All these years, when the court was deciding whether Shukla was a major or minor, the 13-year-old rape victim turned a major. Kya yeh ek tragedy nahi nahi? (Is this not a tragedy)” asks she speaking to Uday India.
At least the Delhi gang-rape has helped create an environment where there is sympathy and public support for rape victims, thinks Verma.
“It is a shame what Zahira has had to undergo all these eight years. Every time she is cross-questioned, it is verbal rape. The accused not only got bail, but even got married. How can any girl marry a rape accused?” laments Verma.
Confirming that Zahira has gone through an excellent psychological rehabilitation and been motivated to lead a normal life, Verma revealed that the victim enrolled in a residential Balika Vidyalay, will appear at high school examination now.
Zahira and her supporters are hoping that with public outcry after the Delhi gang-rape, this case too will be fast-tracked.
The past eight years have been agonising for Zahira and her family. Apart from the trauma and social stigma that the rape victims have to undergo, there have been undue pressure and life threats to her and her family as they wait patiently for justice.
But thanks to the emotional chords stirred by the Delhi braveheart, there are chances that things will not move on such a slow pace now.
“Punish the guilty as fast as possible, rape victims need all our sympathy, these rapists must be booted and kicked openly, they have no right to roam free,” says 23-year-old Shazia Fatima, a resident of the Walled City. Greatly disturbed after the Delhi gang-rape case and the statements of so called religious leaders like Asaram, Shazia said she could not sleep at night.
“I feel helpless and vulnerable, are we living in a civilised society? I wonder,” adds she with moist eyes.