(This story was first published on 24 July 2016. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark the fifth anniversary of the Nirbhaya case. Five years on, we are still a long way from creating a safe space for women. A set of recent incidents involving gruesome rapes of women across the country has yet again raised several questions about the Indian society and the judiciary.)
In December 2012, he was just a few months away from turning eighteen. Convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, he was sent to a juvenile home. This sparked nationwide protests, leading to the passage of the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2015.
Five years later, as a landmark judgement in the SC upholds the death penalty by the Delhi HC, he’s away from the limelight and unaware of the verdict, reports Hindustan Times. An NGO official who is a part of his rehabilitation process has reportedly said that the juvenile’s employer doesn’t know about the case. The fifth convict in the 2012 case has “left his life behind”, according to reports.
In December 2016, he is a 22-year-old cook at a roadside eatery in south India. According to a report in Hindustan Times, an officer who was involved in his rehabilitation said:
After his release on December 20 2015, he was kept with an NGO for a few days. Later, the NGO rehabilitated him in the southern part of the country. He is currently working at a roadside eatery.
‘Showed No Regret At Juvenile Home’
While at north Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila shelter, the juvenile was reportedly trained in cooking, painting and tailoring. He was at the juvenile home for three years, during which period he would contact his mother often. A year ago, The Quint spoke to his counsellor at the rehabilitation home and he said that he hadn’t observed any "positive change" in him.
There was no regret on his face when I first met him after he was arrested. Nor is there any today. I didn’t have to grill him to make him confess to his crime. He told me in detail about his role in the crime.Juvenile’s Counsellor
“He told me that he convinced Nirbhaya and her friend to board the bus and about how the crime was committed by all five of them,” the counsellor said. “He also told me that before Nirbhaya boarded the bus, he had tried to convince another girl who was alone to get in, but that had failed.”
Nirbhaya’s Parents Wanted His Identity to Be Revealed
Earlier, upon his release from the detention centre, Nirbhaya’s parents wanted the juvenile’s identity to be revealed to the world. Fearing that efforts to ‘reform' him in the shelter had failed, her mother said that releasing him posed a threat to society. Speaking to The Quint, she had said:
I have spoken out against him in the media. He may try to silence me forever. I travel alone using public transport. Who will protect me? The government is worried about the safety of the juvenile rapist. They feel that he could be killed if his picture is in the public domain. But what about the safety of society? Will we able to recognise him if he’s sitting next to us?
While he was in the juvenile home, there were also reports of his proximity to the 2011 blast convict and his consequent radicalisation.
Also Read: Why I am Angry With the Nirbhaya Juvenile Offender’s Release
Life Before December 2012
The juvenile is from a village 240 km away from Delhi and ran away from home at the age of 11, reports Hindustan Times. After he left his family of six in his village, he came to Delhi where he met Ram Singh. He found a job cleaning the bus in which Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was raped.
His role in the gruesome crime may have led to the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2015. But questions over the quantum of punishment awarded to the juvenile convict and the success of efforts to ‘reform’ him linger.
(Sources: Hindustan Times, The Washington Post)
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