Delhi gang-rape verdict: Protest over juvenile`s `light` punishment

The punishment of a three-year stay in a reform home given to the lone minor accused in the Dec 16, 2012 gang rape here left the victim`s family angry and sparked a minor protest by those seeking death for the guilty.

New Delhi: The punishment of a three-year stay in a reform home given Saturday to the lone minor accused in the Dec 16, 2012 gang rape here left the victim`s family angry and sparked a minor protest by those seeking death for the guilty.

The open space outside the Juvenile Justice Board near the Feroz Shah Kotla cricket ground in central Delhi was abuzz since 10 a.m., the scheduled time for giving the verdict, but the huge contingent of media persons broke into a frenzy only around 3.30 p.m. when a lawyer came out of the board and shared information about the in-camera proceeding.

The defence lawyer was the first to come out of the board and tell reporters that the juvenile accused had been convicted under gang rape and murder charges and sent to a three-year stay in a reform home.

The maximum punishment that can be awarded under the Juvenile Justice Act is three years.

The security was tightened in and around the board and the accused was brought in a van and his face was muffled. After the delivery of verdict, the juvenile was sent to a special home in a van guarded by police.

The mother of the victim, who died after the gang rape, came out of the board with her two sons and husband and said she was "not satisfied" with the punishment given to the minor accused, indicating that they wanted harsher punishment for him.

With tears in her eyes, she said: "We are not satisfied with the verdict."

"If minors do such things and get away so easily, how will the law work? It cannot be done like this. Law needs to be changed. We will move the higher court against the judgment," she said.

The father of gang raped woman also expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict.

"Our daughter has died and now after listening to this verdict we also have virtually died. This will only encourage crime," the father said.

As the news of the judgment spread, some protestors started shouting slogans outside the board and sought death penalty for the minor accused.

Shouting "Hang the rapist", the protestors expressed displeasure over the "light punishment" given to the minor.

Pihu Sharma, an undergraduate student of Delhi University, who was protesting outside the board, told IANS: "If a minor can rape or has the courage to rape then why give a different punishment to him?"

"He was not a kid when he was raping the girl, he knew what he was doing. So why light punishment for him? We want justice for the girl and three years of (special home stay) is not justice."

Arun Kumar, another protestor, said: "This verdict will only encourage minors to do such crimes. They will have no fear in their minds while committing such crimes because they know they can get off easily.`

"Something is needed to be done to stop such crimes in the country," he said.

The accused, who was a minor at the time of the gang rape but turned 18 in June, was not named.

The board`s decision in the minor`s case is the first judgment in the horrific incident when the 23-year-old woman physiotherapy intern was brutally gang raped in a bus that she and her male companion had boarded in Munirka in south Delhi.

As the gang rape had hit international headlines and raised concerns about women`s safety in the country, the area around the board was packed with media persons, onlookers and activists.

More than 150 media persons from national and international newspapers and television channels started gathered in the morning to cover the case.

The prosecution called the minor accused, as the "most brutal of the six" accused.

He was the one who had lured the victim and her male friend into the bus by giving them wrong information about its route.

The minor accused along with five other men gang-raped the girl in the moving bus and then threw both of them out - without clothes - on the streets in the cold December night.

Police said that apart from sexually assaulting the 23-year-old woman, the minor also ripped out her internal organs with a rod. The girl died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital, where she was flown for treatment.

The brutal gang rape sparked massive protests in New Delhi and other cities, with people demanding death for the accused.

A native of Uttar Pradesh, the minor had moved to Delhi at the age of 11 and was doing odd jobs. He was arrested after the gang rape from Anand Vihar in east Delhi.