Thousands celebrated in New Delhi after a court sentenced four men to death over a fatal gang rape last December. Many view the judgment as historic, hoping it will deter future attacks against women.
A Mexican wave went up connecting a section of the crowd gathered outside the court in the Indian capital, New Delhi. Sweets were distributed while others gave each other hugs to rejoice a moment they had waited restlessly. It was the denouement of a case that had the entire nation riveted. It almost seemed as if there was a sense of closure following the verdict.
The four men - Mukesh Singh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Vinay Sharma (20) and Pawan Gupta (19) - who had been convicted of gang raping and murdering a 23-year-old medical student and attacking her male companion on the night of 16 December, 2012, were given death sentences.
"In these times when crimes against women are on the rise, the court cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome act. We need to send a message that it will not be tolerated," Judge Yogesh Khanna said, while delivering his much-awaited judgment.
'A historic ruling '
Reactions were on predicted lines not just amongst the people waiting for hours outside the court, but also across the nation."I will sleep in peace. I was hoping to get justice. The incident was historic and therefore the ruling is also historic. No one should dare to commit such a crime again," said Badrinath Singh, the victim's father.
Alongside him was the victim's mother, Asha Devi, who looked composed and even poised. "I was expecting this from the court. This verdict will deter other potential rapists and will also send a message to some parents to bring their wayward sons into line," she said.
The sentencing can be appealed to a higher court and the convicts may also ask the president for clemency. But considering the brutality of the crime, many legal experts think death is almost certain for the convicts.
Just a few days ago, a juvenile court verdict bitterly disappointed the parents. One of the attackers, who was 17 at the time of the assault, was sentenced to three years in a correctional facility, the maximum punishment for a juvenile found guilty of rape and murder.
For others who had been following the high-profile case, the guilty verdict was what they wanted to hear. "It is a bold judgment and it will go a long way in securing justice for women who have been sexually assaulted. From now on, we have to send the word that justice should never be delayed," Poornima Advani, chairwoman of the National Commission for Women told DW.
"I am very happy. It is a matter of great satisfaction and pride for everyone. The credit for the case reaching this verdict should be given to both the prosecution and the police," Neeraj Kumar, former police commissioner told DW. It was under his tenure that the police force captured the accused within 72 hours.
'Her fight has not gone unheard'
A teenager who had been visiting the court where the men were being tried could not hold back her tears. "I can go back home today with some pride and honor. 'Brave heart Nirbhaya' as we all have referred to her in the last nine months can rest happily in heaven. Her fight has not gone unheard," said a sobbing Pratibha.
The case was closely followed across India, turning the spotlight on the issue of violence against women
The case was closely followed across India, turning the spotlight on the issue of violence against women. Pinky Anand, a senior lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court of India, said she was amazed at the pace of the trial. "For Indian standards, the conclusion of the so-called Nirbhaya rape case is remarkable. The crime was committed in December 2012 and the trial of the juvenile accused was concluded in July 2013," Anand told DW.