New Delhi: Delhi Police officer Chaya Sharma was tasked to quickly nab the culprits following the “demonic attack” on Nirbhaya, who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six people in a moving bus five years ago in the capital.
Tortured and tormented for over five hours, Nirbhaya and her male friend were dumped on a roadside by their attackers assuming they were dead.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student narrated her excruciating ordeal on the night of December 12, 2012, to the officer when she visited her in the hospital. Nirbhaya told her that "Those who did this to me, do not spare them".
Her statements to the law officers were treated as her dying declaration after her death in a Singapore hospital 13 days after the attack.
Nirbhaya's statements were so crucial to the investigation that the police were able to narrow down the possible suspects within 18 hours of the crime.
The officers' meticulous work has come for praise on Friday as the Supreme Court observed that the "Evidence produced by the Delhi Police is impeccable" while upholding the death sentence for the four convicts.
Of the two other convicts, one committed suicide in Tihar jail while the other, a juvenile, completed his three year in rehab, which is the maximum punishment for young offenders.
"If we got a conviction, it was due to Nirbhaya herself. Her consistent statements made it possible," NDTV quoted officer Sharma, who is now with the National Human Rights Commission, as saying.
"She never clammed up like rape victims usually do. Her attitude was very positive," recalled the officer.
The officer recalled how Nirbhaya's statements to doctors at the Safdarjung hospital and two magistrates helped the police to nab her attackers.
Since the rapists were unknown to the woman, it was a huge challenge to the police. "Our task was very hard. We had to start the case from zero," she said.
"Searching for the bus was very difficult. We short-listed about 300 buses and our team meticulously worked around the leads we were getting," she said.
Sharma was assisted by a team of 100 officers.
"I had a very good team. They were very thorough in their jobs. We concluded that the arrogance with which the accused had committed crime showed that they were familiar to the area," she said.
"The driver or the cleaner had to be from the surrounding area. We worked around that and one by one, we caught all of them," Ms Sharma said.
The police made the first arrest within 18 hours of the attack. He was bus driver Ram Singh. "After his interrogation we arrested others."
"We filed a charge-sheet in just 18 days. This chargesheet stood judicial scrutiny of two lower courts and now the Supreme Court. If it was faulty, we would have been hanged instead," the proud officer said.