India hangs four men convicted over fatal New Delhi gang rape

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Four men sentenced to death for the gang rape and murder of a woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012 were hanged on Friday, concluding a case that exposed the scope of sexual violence in India and prompted horrified Indians to demand swift justice.

The four stood trial relatively quickly in India’s slow-moving justice system, their convictions and sentences handed down less than a year after the crime.

India’s top court upheld the verdicts in 2017, finding that the men’s crimes had created a “tsunami of shock” among Indians.

“The four convicts were hanged together at 5.30am,” said Sandeep Goel, head of the Tihar Jail in New Delhi.

India Hangings
Indians holds banners outside Tihar central prison in New Delhi where four men were hanged for a fatal gang rape in 2012 (Manish Swarup/AP)

With no-one else in sight, they beat her friend and repeatedly raped the woman, penetrating her with a metal rod, causing fatal internal injuries.

They then dumped both victims on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later.

Asha Devi, the mother of the victim, thanked the judiciary and government after the convicts were hanged.

“Today, we got justice and this day is dedicated to the daughters of the country,” she told reporters. “I could not protect her but I was able to fight for her.”

Ms Devi said she hoped that courts in India will end delays in rape cases and punish convicts within a year’s time.

India Hangings
Asha Devi, mother of the victim, thanked the judiciary and government after the convicts were hanged (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Facing public protests and political pressure after the attack, the government reformed some of India’s antiquated laws on sexual violence and created fast-track courts for handling rape trials that formerly could last more than a decade.

The new laws prescribed harsher punishments for rapists and addressed new crimes, including acid throwing and stalking.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said on Friday that justice had prevailed and it was of the utmost importance to ensure the dignity and safety of women.

“Together, we have to build a nation where the focus is on women empowerment, where there is emphasis on equality and opportunity,” he said on his Twitter account.

Hundreds of police were deployed outside the jail to control a crowd that waited to celebrate the executions.

Dozens of people held placards hailing the hangings. The crowd chanted slogans like “Justice for women” and cheered by clapping and blowing whistles.

Another suspect had hanged himself in prison before his trial began, though his family insists he was killed. The sixth assailant was a minor at the time of the attack and served three years in juvenile detention.

Amnesty International India condemned Friday’s executions, saying they “mark a disheartening development”. It called again for India to abolish the death penalty.

“There is no evidence that the punishment acted as a particular deterrent to the crime and will eradicate violence against women,” the group said in a statement.

India Hangings
Policemen stand guard at the entrance of Tihar central prison in New Delhi where four men were sentenced to death for the 2012 gang rape (Manish Swarup/AP)

Activists say new sentencing requirements have not deterred rape, with Indian government data showing that police registered almost 34,000 cases in 2018.

The real figure is believed to be far higher since stigma surrounding sexual violence keeps victims from reporting their attacks to police.

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