NEW DELHI (AFP) – An Indian judge on Friday sentenced to death four men convicted of the fatal gang rape of a student on a New Delhi bus, fulfilling the dying wish of the 23-year-old victim.
The packed courtroom burst into applause as Judge Yogesh Khanna announced his sentence. The defendants — lowly paid migrants to New Delhi mostly in their 20s — broke down in tears and one of them, gym assistant Vinay Sharma, howled loudly before he was led away by police.
The judge told the fast-track court in the south of the capital that the case, which sparked widespread anger against the treatment of women, fell into the “rarest of rare category” which justified capital punishment.
“In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, courts cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act,” he announced.
The mother of the victim told reporters that she was delighted the judge had ordered their deaths by hanging.
“We are happy that in the end we got justice. My daughter wanted them to be given the death sentence,” she told reporters, wearing a green saree and flanked by her husband and sons.
There had been a huge clamour for the four — Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh — to be executed for their attack on the physiotherapy student and her male companion on December 16.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died of grievous internal injuries on December 29 after being lured on to the private bus following a cinema trip with the companion.
After beating up the friend, the gang brutally assaulted her behind tinted windows for 45 minutes before flinging the bloodied and barely conscious couple onto a road leading to New Delhi’s international airport.
Her injuries were so severe that she died nearly a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital. She briefly regained consciousness, telling family and friends of her desire to see her attackers burn to death.
“It was an inhuman act which has shamed all humanity. The message is that if you commit such a crime, you will get such punishment,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told a news conference.