Releasing rapist adds to my pain: Jyoti's mother

It’s December 17. A day earlier, the house in one of the societies in Dwarka was swarming with people, including mediapersons and activists, who had come there on the third anniversary of one of the most brutal gang-rapes and murders the country has seen.

The day after, Jyoti’s mother sits alone in the house, with a void in her heart and wondering what the system and society have learnt from the death of her daughter.
“We remember the incident each year on December 16. It is the occasion for everyone to talk about women safety. But what after December 16? There will be another headline.

December 16 ka naam reh gaya hai bas,” says Asha Devi, mother of Jyoti Singh, who was gang-raped and tortured in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2013 night. She died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

“The country had not seen such outrage before; so many people coming out on streets. But nothing has changed since then. There is a new rape case coming to light each day. This only proves that the rapists still don’t fear the law or any repercussion. Neither the society or the system has learnt anything since then,” she says.

Asha Devi blames this on the release of the juvenile and delay in the hanging of the other accused. She says even after three years, her anger hasn’t reduced and in fact on the third anniversary, she is angrier than ever as it is coinciding with the release of the juvenile.

“My anger will only subside if I see the juvenile in jail and others being hanged,” the mother says.

Of the six convicts in the gang-rape and murder of Jyoti, a trial court had awarded the death penalty to four of them, a sentence upheld by the High Court. One was found dead in Tihar Jail and the juvenile was sent to a reform home. The appeals against death penalty for the four convicts are pending before the Supreme Court.

However, the juvenile, who was six months shy of 18 during the crime, was set to walk free on Sunday, after the Delhi High Court on Friday refused to pass any directive on extending his three-year stay in a reform home.

“First, there is a review of the death sentence. Now, this juvenile will be out. These things only add to our pain. Kya kisi ne yeh socha ki hamara kya haal hoga isko bahar dekh ke (Did anyone think how we will feel when we see him getting free)?” says Asha Devi while trying hard to hold her tears back.

“The government couldn’t even pass the Juvenile Justice Bill. If it was done, there would have been a relief that even if we couldn’t get justice for our daughter, at least the rest of the parents can,” she says and narrates an incident of how she met another mother at Jantar Mantar whose daughter’s rape accused is a juvenile too and is set to be released in a few days.

“Releasing this juvenile is actually setting an example for other juveniles to commit crimes like these”.

The bill, which allows juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be treated as adults for heinous crimes like rape, was introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha in the aftermath of the public anger over the incident but is stuck in the Rajya Sabha even after an year.

She asks why the hanging of the other four is being delayed.

“What are the authorities waiting for? If they give them punishment after 10 years, will it hold any value, will it be a lesson for anyone? Only swift punishment would have acted as a deterrent. The rapists are now assured that if no punishment happened in such a brutal case, nothing will happen to them also,” she says.

The four accused had moved the apex court in March last year but there has been no hearing after that and no fresh date has been given.

On the third anniversary of the incident, her mother took her name in public and said people who commit heinous crimes should hang their heads in shame and not the victims or their families.

“Mere paas kya hai? Bas naam hi toh bacha hai beti ka (I am only left with my daughter’s name),” she says and adds that’s the reason she wants the world to know
her name.

“Sometimes I think, for whom am I fighting. My daughter is already gone. But the next moment, I remember her face and realise that I should fight so that no other mother goes through the same pain and agony,” she says while looking at the awards given to her daughter posthumously and the family, that adorn a wall in an otherwise dull room.

The anxious mother couldn’t sleep whole night after returning from Jantar Mantar, where people marked the third anniversary of the incident on December 16.

“All I could think about was this day three years before. We were sitting outside the operation theatre and praying that she gets well.”

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