While protests raged at India Gate in the wake of the gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedic student on December 16,a team of police officers were engaged elsewhere. They were meticulously collecting evidence of the brutal assault,piecing together the events of that ill-fated night. Their efforts paid off on Tuesday when the fast-track court pronounced a guilty verdict in the case.
Investigating officers recalled the nerve-wracking five days when they had the accused in custody. Each time they escorted the accused on raids or for identification parades,everyone wanted to kill them.
The officers said they had to wrap the accused in blankets and cover their faces with monkey caps when they were taken for a raid or to the crime scene.
Police ensured that they changed their vehicles every 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes,we boarded a new vehicle. They were all private cars,otherwise we could have been recognised, an investigating officer said.
While bringing the accused to the Vasant Vihar police station,the vehicles would be parked near Priya Cinema in Vasant Vihar. Police and the accused would cover the remaining distance on foot along the nallah behind the cinema and cut through the jungle to reach the station.
Near the station,we heard people shouting slogans and pelting stones. Someone was always heard saying saamne laao,maar daalenge inhe (Bring them in front of us. We will kill them), the officer said.
Some officers recalled how Ram Singh,the first to be arrested,was expressionless when they apprehended him. He answered our questions with ease and did not flinch even once. We thought we had caught the wrong man, recalled an officer.
Akshay was defiant,Mukesh adamant,and Pawan and Vinay looked guilty when we arrested them, the officer said.
Ram Singh,who was later found dead in Tihar Jail, was the one who decided to clean the bus,the officer said.
As soon as they returned to Sector 3,RK Puram,Ram Singh stripped all the accused naked and asked them to hand over whatever they had stolen from the couple. Ram Singh then made them wash their hands in warm water. He asked them Tum log jaante ho tumne kya kiya hai? (Do you know what you have done?). Then he made them wash the bus and asked them to go into hiding, the officer said.
Sub Inspector Pratibha Sharma was the first investigating officer in the case. She had headed the investigation in the case until the charge of murder was added,after the woman died at a Singapore hospital on December 29. The investigation was handed over to Inspector Anil Sharma,SHO,Vasant Vihar.
A mother of two,she said in the days following the incident,until all the accused were caught,she practically lived in the police station. I did not go home… barely slept…, she recalled outside the court room on Tuesday.
Inspector Anil Sharma said,The DNA examination,the technical analysis and the scientific examination of the spot and the bus is what helped cracked the case. It was a tough task for us. All of us were determined to take the case to its logical end. So much so,that we would reach the court 10 minutes before the hearing to take care of all formalities. Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan would reach 20 minutes before us. He would have everything prepared the previous night.