By Harsha Mishra
DELHI, India – Thousands of hearts are aching today, remembering that awful night a year ago, when a young medical student was brutally raped on a private bus in Delhi, tossed out onto the road and left to die.
This day marked a bloodstained spot in Indian history that shattered the belief of millions of Indians who considered Delhi one of the safest cities for women in India. The nation’s capital, since that attack, Delhi also became known as National Capital of Rape.
“The Girl,” who was later given the honorary name Nirbhaya, which means a fearless braveheart, was a physiotherapy intern who was in Delhi to start her internship in the coming few days when a gang of men attacked her.
That day, she was out to watch a movie with a friend. On their way home, the two were brutally attacked on board a bus, becoming victims of a horrible crime.
Narrating her story today, I have tears in my eyes, thinking about the atrocities the girl faced, but this story should be told to all, for the courage she later showed.
On Dec. 16, 2012, Nirbhaya left her home in the evening telling her parents she would be back in about two to three hours, as she was out to watch a movie with her friends. She went to the Saket neighborhood of Delhi, where one of the famous malls, Select City Walk, is located.
About 8 p.m., she was ready to leave for home. Her friend, well aware of the risks involved if a girl is travelling so late at night in India, asked to drop her home. Covering half the distance by an auto, they then took a bus in haste so that Nirbhaya could be home soon, safe and sound.
Inside the bus with them were six other men, including the driver. One of them was a minor.
Three of the six started beating Nirbhaya’s friend. Blows from an iron rod caused him to lose consciousness.
Then the six men, including the teenage juvenile, each raped the girl. One of the attackers exchanged seats with the driver, who was his brother, so that he could be part of the crime, too.
Nirbhaya’s genitals were damaged by the iron rod. Her hairs were later found scattered in the bus. The men later confessed that they tried to sodomize their victim as well, and the minor was the one planning and eagerly executing the crime.
They then threw the almost-naked bodies of both the girl and her friend from the moving bus and then tried to crush them under the tires. They didn’t succeed because Nirbhaya’s friend, by then semi-conscious, managed to pull the girl from out of their way.
At about 11 p.m., a passerby found the victims and called police, bringing the attack to light.
But the facts which later followed were even more shocking. A confession by one of the men stated that they tried to subdue the girl, who was continuously fighting, through making her lose her consciousness by pulling out her intestines using their bare hands.
Bite marks were found all over her body. For 13 days, she fought for her life, and finally left this world on Dec. 29, 2012.
Though she was in pain, she never gave up the urge or hope to live. She was a fighter.
Her often-quoted first statement, when she first met her parents after regaining consciousness, was, “Those bastards should be burnt alive.”
She wanted to live. She kept telling her mother, “main jeena chahti hu,” which means, “I want to live.”
These were a few words that still ring in our ears, in the ears of her parents, and these are the words which gave way to the fire that engulfed Delhi in the days that followed the attack.
This is not an end to Nirbhaya’s story. The sad part is, after one year, the guilty are alive.
Though the world knows what happened that night, the Indian government has been unable to execute the six of them.
And an entire year has passed.
I cannot do anything else, but to use the power of pen that I have, so that I can make everyone know the chilling night one year ago, so that people can be more aware of such crimes. Then the next time they see any girl being tortured or harassed, they can react, and prevent from India or the world having another Nirbhaya.
I want every girl and every man to know about and be inspired by the courage that girl showed and the spirit she had towards life. Let’s all of us give a salute to the braveheart, a pledge that we’ll stop this world from having more Nirbhayas.
Her real name was Jyoti, meaning light. She died, enlightening the world.