As 'Amanat' (NOT her real name) lay on her hospital bed, struggling to survive, in the few words that she could scribble or signal, she asked if the six men who raped and tortured her had been arrested.
She wanted them brought to justice, she said. And, she wanted to live, she told her mother and brother three days after she was brutally gang-raped and assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi.
Ten days later, Amanat is dead. She fought very hard, but lost her battle with the savagery inflicted on her body. The men who are accused of raping her one by one and inflicting wounds on her so grievous that her intestines had to be removed, are in custody. Charges of murder will be added to the chargesheet later today.
These men live in the heart of the national capital. Ram Singh, the driver of the bus that Amanat was raped in, drove schoolchildren in the same bus every day. His brother Mukesh, who is also accused of murdering Amanat, lived with him in the Ravidas camp slum cluster in south Delhi not far from a colony for government officers.
Ram Singh, age 33, was often drunk, according to the police, which says that its investigation reveals that the bus driver was also ill-tempered and "criminally minded". He has four brothers; three of them left the family home because he mistreated them, the police said. He then moved to a small one-room accommodation, which he shared with Mukesh
In 2009, Ram Singh had a serious accident while driving a bus and an iron rod had to be inserted in one of his arms. The police say that the injury resulted in an inferiority complex and made him more prone to picking up fights. His wife reportedly died three years ago after a kidney failure.
Not far from where Ram Singh and Mukesh live, is Vinay Sharma's home. The 19-year-old is a gym assistant studying Commerce. He is also now accused of murder and rape. Neighbours have described the teen as a diligent student. His father said, "I want my son to hang. Why did he go with these people?" In court, Vinay broke down and asked to be given the death penalty.
A fourth, Pawan, is a fruit vendor who came to live in the slum cluster with his family only last year. His father too works as a fruit and vegetable vendor; the family is in shock. Pawan's mother says Ram Singh was the leader of this gang of friends.
One of the accused is still reportedly a minor. He was on the run for more than a week after the incident, before being caught in Uttar Pradesh. He is too young to be named, but is accused of having been on that bus and participated in a crime so heinous, it has shaken the nation to its core.
On the night of Sunday, December 16, Ram Singh was not driving the bus; Mukesh was. The police says the brothers and their four friends decided to go "on a joyride" in their off-duty hours. They posed as the sort of chartered bus that is often used as public transport in Delhi.
The bus had tinted windows and curtains, banned in Delhi. But it was not stopped as it moved through a series of police check points.
On board, the medical student and her friend were assaulted with vicious force. They had finished watching a film and boarded the bus to go home. Ram Singh and his friends allegedly taunted the woman, asking her why she was out late with a man. Her friend, who works for a software firm, intervened. The men turned on him with an iron rod. The girl then tried to protect her friend, infuriating the assaulters who decided to punish her. First, they hit her. Then they raped her. The bus kept moving.
They finally threw the couple out, unconscious, on a flyover, where they were found by a passer-by who called the police.
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