Victim's friend plagued with guilt and shock

He was the sole eyewitness to the barbaric gang-rape of a young woman on the night of December 16, last year. A year after the heinous incident, the woman’s friend, Avanindra Pandey, said he is still plagued by guilt and shock, and will never be the same again for years.

The 29-year-old Pandey, who had boarded the private bus from south Delhi’s Munirka bus stop along with the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist on that fateful night, said the only satisfaction he has was that four of the accused have been sentenced to death.

But Pandey has one more demand: the accused minor should be given harsher punishment.

“I often ask myself if I am to blame for this. Why did I go to that mall? Why did I board that bus? I was not able to even speak properly for two weeks afterwards,” Pandey said.
“I survived that night and am alive to tell the tale,” Pandey said. His friend died 13 days after the brutal attack.

The youth said that he was satisfied that one of the six accused Ram Singh met his end by hanging himself in Tihar Jail around three months after the incident, while four others — Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma — have been given the death penalty.

“The juvenile should also be given a harsh punishment because he will easily get freedom from reformatory home though he was the most brutal,” Pandey added.

A Juvenile Justice Board had on August 31 sentenced the minor to three years in a special home — the maximum punishment for under-age criminals for any offence.

The boy is now 18 years and will be out of the home in December 2015. A Delhi court on September 13 sentenced the four accused to death after relying heavily on the testimony of the victim’s friend.

The Delhi High Court is hearing their appeal against the sentence. “I am yet to recover from that night. I am still in shock. I am unable to shake away the guilt. I don’t know, it will take years for me to be the same again,” said the youth.

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