Nirbhaya case: Four rapists hanged till death at Delhi’s Tihar jail

A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang raped and assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died after a fortnight.

More than seven years after the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case rocked India’s national capital Delhi and sparked nation-wide protests, four death row convicts in the case were executed at Tihar jail in the early hours of March 20.

Death warrants, scheduling the hanging for March 20 at 5.30 am, were  issued by a trial court on March 5. The four convicts – Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) – faced the gallows today after multiple attempts to stay the execution.

After the hanging, Asha Devi, mother of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim told media persons,”Finally they have been hanged, it was a long struggle. Today we got justice, this day is dedicated to the daughters of the country. I thank the judiciary and the government.”

A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang raped and assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She had died at a Singapore hospital after a fortnight.

Six people, including the four death row convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case.

The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.

Today’s execution comes after years of legal battle, which included deferring the date of the execution thrice, including last ditch efforts to stay the execution in the form of urgent court hearings hours before the scheduled hanging.

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind had, on March 4 this year, rejected the mercy plea filed by Pawan Gupta. Of the four convicts, Gupta’s was the last mercy plea rejected by the President, paving the way for the hanging.

Barely three hours before the scheduled hanging, the Supreme Court in a pre-dawn hearing on March 20 dismissed a plea of one of the four death row convicts against rejection of his second mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.

A bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna rejected the fervent plea of Pawan Gupta that his mercy plea had been wrongly rejected by the President without considering the fact that he was a minor at the time of offence in 2012.