|Akshay Thakur, one of the accused, who was arrested last Saturday
Delhi Police on Saturday invoked murder charges against the six men arrested of raping and beating up the 23-yearold victim and her friend on December 16, and said it will be their endeavour to ensure the “harshest punishment in the book” to the culprits.
Dharmendra Kumar, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said, “We hope to file the charge sheet by January 3. Section 302 of the IPC, which is the penal section for murder, has been added in the case.”
He said a special public prosecutor of eminence has been appointed to conduct the trial in the fast track court on day-to-day basis. Police had initially booked the six men under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), 365 (kidnapping or abducting), 376 (2)(g) (gang rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 394 (hurting in committing robbery) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC.
The arrested persons are driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Akshay Thakur, Pavan and Vinay. The sixth person arrested claimed that he is a minor and police have sought the court's permission to get a bone test to ascertain his age.
Fearing attacks from other prisoners, five of the six men arrested were shifted to the high-security zone of Tihar Jail in Delhi (the sixth person is at a juvenile home).
A source in Tihar Jail said, “There is every chance that other prisoners will attack the five accused. Now, they have been shifted to cells with special locks.” The residents of Ravidas Camp, a south Delhi slum where the six accused resided, described them as “wolves”, and said they be given death.
The homes of Ram Singh, fruit seller Pawan Gupta, gym instructor Vinay Sharma and Ram Singh's brother Mukesh are situated in the labyrinth bylanes of this slum cluster which accommodates nearly 300 houses in the RK Puram area. At Ram Singh's house, a lock hung on a green wooden door in the afternoon.
The house of Vinay was also deserted. Neighbours said his family members left the city to save themselves from the ignominy. Neetu, a neighbour of Vinay, said: "I saw Vinay grow up. The incident has shocked all of us. I don't know how I will get my children admitted to a school as the incident has earned abad name to this place.”
Another resident, Kamla, said she fears that she might be outcast if people come to know that she is from Ravidas Camp. Nageshwar, 42, a resident of the slum, said: "You never know when a mob may attack the slum and torch or ransack our houses. But we want to say that we are as angry as the whole nation. We want them to be hanged.”
DOCS defend Singapore shift
Meanwhile, the doctor who led the team that treated the victim in Safdarjung Hospital, and another who accompanied her to Singapore, on Sautrday rebutted criticism of the decision saying the intention was to save her at any cost.
Maintaining that this was not the time to have a debate whether the decision to shift her was political or medical, Dr B D Athani, Superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, said “The intention was to save her. The whole nation was praying for her and everyone was hoping for the best.
We could not have given hope.” Some experts, such as Dr Samiran Nandi of the Ganga Ram Hospital had expressed surprise why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high grade fever and on ventilator was transferred.
Dr Yatin Mehta, a critical care specialist who accompanied the victim to Singapore, said, “There is no comparison between government hospitals in India and Mount Elizabeth in Singapore. I am not talking about the expertise of the doctors but about the infrastructure. We need to acknowledge that.”
Mehta also said Singapore was chosen for her airlift because it had one of the best hospitals for organ transplant. “She was extremely critical when we took her from Safdarjung Hospital. There was hardly any viable intestine left in her stomach,” he said.
• There is every chance that other prisoners will attack the five accused