NEARLY THREE years after gang rape, the 19-year-old victim won a hard-fought battle in the district court of Chandigarh where her tormentors were sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. But again, her world came crashing down after her 50-year-old mother, only parent, succumbed to cancer on March 4, just four days after the judgment was pronounced.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, the victim said, “I fought against the accused because of the support of my mother and with the words given to me by my father who died in my arms. My father, while dying, told me to fight every problem in life fearlessly and that is what I did.” Her father died in March 2004.
She was raped by five men in September 2015 in a forest area near Mauli Jagran and dumped there. The convicts — Chander Shekhar (22), Bansi (35), Surjit Singh (35), Shekhar Rana (21) and Sahil Verma (22) — have been sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2 lakh each as per court orders.
“On February 27, when the order against the convicts was pronounced and my mother was told about it, she smiled for one last time, though she was in excruciating pain and critical. I feel she was just holding her breath for the past some time just to hear the verdict and immediately after, her condition began to deteriorate and she stopped eating,” said the victim, adding, “I was adopted by my parents from a church in Chandigarh as I was an orphan. But today, I feel I have become an orphan again. Though my mother had been ill for some time, she was my mentor and biggest emotional support, who encouraged me to fight.”
But she promises herself to stand strong again with time and fight like she fought the culprits. The girl was pursuing her Class XII when she was raped. Later, after a gap of a year, she completed her Class XII from open board and started doing diploma in IT, which she could not complete due to shortage of money. The victim’s mother had been working as a domestic help and earning around Rs 2,000 per month, besides the family had been getting Rs 1,000 a month as part of the pension from her father’s job. Her father worked in a factory.
The victim said at the trial, the owners of the houses where her mother used to work, offered her lakhs through the accused to drop the complaint, but she and her mother refused all the temptations and kept fighting for justice. “I know this is a difficult phase of life when I am alone without my parents. And now, if those, who raped me, move the High Court, then I will be bold like my mother and be stronger in facing challenges of life,” said the victim.