Rediff.com's Priyanka travels to the locality where the Delhi gang rape accused, including Ram Singh who committed suicide on Monday morning, resided. While residents of the South Delhi locality are in disbelief over the suicide, fellow accused Vinay Sharma's mother is now worried for her son's life
The residents of Ravidas camp near R K Puram in South Delhi are still reeling in shock and disbelief at the early morning news.
Ram Singh, 33, who had lived here for many years and was the main accused in the gang rape of a young paramedical student in Delhi on December 16 last year, allegedly killed himself inside his jail cell at Tihar Jail in the national capital on Monday morning.
Most residents of this thickly-populated settlement find it hard to believe that Ram Singh could have killed himself.
Ram Singh’s parents often traveled to Delhi from their home in Rajasthan. His father, Mange Lal would often speak to the neighbours about his son’s case.
Ram Singh had a bleak chance of being let off, the neighbours recall.
While the police had escorted Ram Singh’s parents and another family member to the hospital later in the day, the neighbours continued to talk about the case.
A neighbour argues that Ram Singh wouldn’t have possibly hung himself, as he had a physical handicap. He was involved in an accident a few years ago and had severely damaged one of arms.
“A rod had to be inserted,” the neighbour said, refusing to dispclose his identity.
Another resident recalled that his “one arm would always remain slightly lifted, but he was still strong and could carry buckets filled with 15 litres of water with the arm”.
A number of people at the settlement would swear by the statement that Ram Singh was a man with a strong will and could not have been easily intimidated.
Though many agree that he was short-tempered and would often fight with people, his physical disability did not bother him.
The other accused in this case, Ram Singh’s brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma also lived here with their families. They have become increasingly weary of the widespread interest in the case.
Vinay’s mother Champa Devi tries to speak slowly of how worried she is about the safety of her son. Vinay, a helper at a local gym, is also lodged at Tihar Jail.
Champa Devi says she has not been able to eat anything since she heard the news of Ram Singh’s death.
Her husband, Hari Ram is a daily wage labourer. Her three other young children (Vinay is the eldest) -- two daughters and a son -- are school going. She has not been able to sit inside her one-room house at the settlement and is neither able to watch television. Her youngest son is in school today, while the daughter is at home, unwell.
Champa Devi would sob frequently, worrying about Vinay’s security. She meets her son once a week in jail.
“Ever since I heard the news in the morning, I have been very tense,” she says.
She strongly asserts that Vinay and Ram Singh were not close friends and had gone together for the first time on the night of December 16
“Can’t believe that he would have hung himself,” she says on hearing about Ram Singh’s reported suicide. “If he wanted to do it, he would have done it a long time back.”
“He was a strong and forceful man. It is hard to believe that he killed himself. Vinay never spoke about being ill treated at the Tihar jail,” she says.
Champa Devi is weary of being identified, and tells people to stop clicking photographs.
“I have two daughters. People point fingers at us whenever we go outside,” she says.
She still cannot tell what happened on the night of December 16, but says that her son Vinay had cried to her and said that he did nothing ‘wrong.’
“The first time I met him in jail he pleaded and said he wanted to come out. He told me that he did not do anything wrong. His only fault was that he was there on that night,” says Champa, sobbing.
Her son had been dutiful; he would fetch medicines for his unwell sister. He often asks about her sister’s well-being when she meets him in jail now.
“My son reads the Hanuman Chalisa. He did not seem to have many interests, except for a mobile phone, which his father had bought for him after he completed school. He had opposed his father’s decision to install cable television in the house," she says.
“It is all our bad luck,” she adds.