New Delhi: The male friend of the Delhi gang-rape victim - the only witness in the case - on Friday spoke for the first time in front of the nation and exclusively told Zee News that his friend was “positive” and wanted to live even after the horrific incident that took place on the night of December 16.
"I wish I could have saved her," the friend exclusively told Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary.
The victim’s friend explained to Zee News in detail what exactly happened on that fateful night of December 16.
He said that no one came to their help when they were lying on the road. After being thrown off the bus, the duo reached hospital after two to two-and-a-half hours.
The victim’s friend said that since December 16, protests have been happening and people are on the streets. “Many things have come out in the media, but people have been interpreting it as per their convenience. I want to tell them what we faced that night. I want to tell what I faced, what my friend faced,” he told Zee News, expressing hope that people could take a lesson and save others’ lives in future.
He said that the six accused had lured them into boarding the bus on the night of December 16.
“The occupants of the bus, which had tinted windows and curtains, had laid a trap for us. They were probably involved in crimes before also. They beat us up, hit us with an iron rod, snatched our clothes and belongings and threw us off the bus on a deserted stretch.
“The bus occupants had everything planned. Apart from the driver and the helper, others behaved like they were passengers. We even paid Rs 20 as fare. They then started teasing my friend and it led to a brawl. I beat three of them up but then the rest of them brought an iron rod and hit me. Before I fell unconscious, they took my friend away.
“From where we boarded the bus, they moved around for nearly two and a half hours. We were shouting, trying to make people hear us. But they switched off the lights of the bus. We tried to resist them. Even my friend fought with them, she tried to save me. She tried to dial the police control room number 100, but the accused snatched her mobile away,” he said.
“Before throwing us off the bus, they snatched our mobiles and tore off our clothes in order to destroy any evidence of the crime,” he added.
“After throwing us off the bus, they tried to mow us down but I saved my friend by pulling her away in the nick of time. We were without clothes. We tried to stop passersby. Several auto rickshaws, cars and bikes slowed down but none stopped for about 20 to 25 minutes. Then, someone on patrolling, stopped and called the police,” he told Zee News.
The victim’s friend rued the fact that three PCR vans arrived at the scene after about 30 to 45 minutes, but wasted time in deciding under which police station’s jurisdiction the case fell.
He said nobody, including the police, gave them clothes or called an ambulance. “They were just watching us,” he said, adding that after repeated requests, someone gave him a part of a bed sheet to cover his friend.
“My friend was bleeding profusely; I was more concerned about her. But instead of taking us to a nearby hospital, they (police) took us to a hospital (Safdarjung) that was far away.”
The victim’s friend said that he carried his badly injured friend to the PCR van on his own as “the policemen didn’t help us because my friend was bleeding profusely and they were probably worried about their clothes”.
“Nobody from the public helped us. People were probably afraid that if they helped us, they would become witnesses to the crime and would be asked to come to the police station and court,” he told the channel.
“Even at the hospital, we were made to wait and I had to literally beg for clothes. I asked one ‘safai karamchari’ to give me some clothes or curtains and he asked me to wait. But the clothes never came. I then borrowed a stranger’s mobile and called my relatives, but just told them that I had met with an accident. My treatment started only after my relatives came,” he said.
“I was hit on the head. I was not able to walk. I was not able to move my hands for two weeks,” he said, detailing the injuries he suffered on that horrific night.
“My family wanted to take me to our native place but I decided to stay in Delhi in order to help the police. It was only after the doctors’ advice that I went back to my home and started private treatment there.”
“When I had met my friend in the hospital, she was smiling. She was able to write and was positive. I never felt that she did not want to live,” he said.
“She had told me that if I wasn’t there, she would not have filed the complaint. I had decided that I would ensure the culprits are punished,” the victim’s friend said.
He said that his friend was also worried about the cost of the treatment. “I was asked to be with her to give her strength.”
“When she gave the first statement to the lady SDM, only then I came to know what had happened with her. I couldn’t believe what they did to her. Even when animals hunt, they don’t mete out such brutality to their prey.
“She faced all of this and told the magistrate that the accused should not be hanged but burnt to death.”
“The first statement she gave to the SDM was correct. She had given that statement with a lot of effort. She was coughing and bleeding while giving the statement. She was on ventilator support. There was no pressure or interference at all. But when the SDM said that she had faced pressure, all her (friend’s) efforts went in vain. It is wrong to say that the statement was made under pressure,” the victim’s friend told Zee News.
When asked what suggestions he would like to give in order to ensure that such incidents don’t recur, the victim’s friend said, “The police should always try to ensure that the victims are taken to the hospital as early as possible and not waste precious time looking for government hospitals. Also, witnesses should not be harassed so that they come to the court to testify.”
He said that one cannot change mindsets by lighting candles. "You have to help people on the road when they need help,” he added.
“Protest and change should not only be for her but for the coming generations as well.”
The victim’s friend said that he wanted the Justice Verma committee - set up by the government to suggest measures to improve women’s security - to make the law easier for complainants.
“I would like to tell Justice JS Verma, Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramanium that we have a lot of laws, but the public is afraid of going to police as they wonder whether the police will register an FIR or not. You are trying to start fast-track courts for one issue, but why shouldn’t every case be fast tracked,” he said.
He further said that “only he can tell what he has gone through… what I have faced…”
He disclosed that “no one from the government has contacted me so far to ask about my treatment. I have been paying for my own treatment so far.”
When asked why people don’t want to talk about such issues in public, the victim’s friend said, “In our society, we try to hide such things. If something bad has happened with us, then we try to hide thinking what will the other person say. Also because our friends and relatives talk behind our back about such incidents, that we try to prevent them from becoming public.”
“If I had decided not to file the complaint and just call the incident an accident, this case would not have become this big.”
He rued the people’s indifference towards him and his friend when they were lying on the road. “They (the people) had cars, they could have taken us to the hospital. Every minute was important for us. But they didn’t. Who will change this attitude?” he asked.
He said his mental condition was so bad after the incident that he was not able to sleep properly. “I didn’t share this with anyone. When such a thing happens to us, we often ask ourselves: ‘Am I to blame for this? Why did I go to the mall? Why did I board that bus?’ I was not able to even speak properly for two weeks.”
He said that if his friend was “treated in a better hospital, she would have probably been alive today.” It may be noted that the gang-rape victim was first treated at the Safdarjung Hospital before being shifted to a hospital in Singapore, where she passed away.
He went on to say that one of the police officials wanted him to say that the police were doing a good job in the case.
“Why did they want to take credit for doing their duty? If everyone does their work well, nothing more needs to be said in the matter,” he said.
"We have a long battle to fight," he said further, adding, “If I didn`t have lawyers in my family, I would not have been able to fight this.”
The victim’s friend also told Zee News, "I was in the police station for four days rather than being in a hospital where I would be treated. I told my friends that I had met with an accident."
"The internal judgement of the Delhi Police should prompt them to assess for themselves if they have done a good job or not," he added.
"If you can help someone, help them. If a single person had helped me that night, things would have been different. There is no need to close Metro stations and stop the public from expressing themselves. People should be allowed to have faith in the system," he went on to say.
"I never had thoughts of leaving her and running away. Even an animal would not do that. I have no regrets. But I wish I could have done something to help her."
“She has awakened us. If we can carry on this fight with her name, it would be tribute to her,” he said.