'Someone is always crying at home'
"Our tears have not dried. With each passing day her memories get more intense. Someone is always crying at home" -- these words of the father of December 16 gang rape victim describe the pain and struggle of her family to overcome the tragedy that shook India a year ago.
Since the fateful incident, the family of the girl remains in grip of shock, grief and anger though four of the rapists were sentenced to death by a court after a nine-month trial.
"We will never recover ever and she is very much alive within us," the 48-year-old father told PTI with tears welling up in his eyes.
He said that every time his wife cooks something, she remembers her daughter.
"Every time we sit to eat our meals, my wife says... 'this is her favourite food and we are eating it without her'. She loved good food. My wife remembers the last time when our daughter left home saying that she will be back home in three-four hours...but our wait never ended as the hours turned into months and then into years," he said with a choked voice.
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'We have not yet got justice'
Fighting back tears, he said that their real battle has begun now as they have filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the juvenile accused who was "let off".
"We have not yet got justice. We want all the culprits including the one, who was a juvenile at the time of the incident, to be hanged and only perhaps then our minds will get some rest and we will be able to sleep in peace," he said with his wife nodding in agreement.
Her parents had moved the Supreme Court on November 30 seeking directions to put one of the accused who was then a minor on trial by a criminal court by quashing a law which bans such prosecution of juveniles.
When asked if the women in the country feel safe since the incident which triggered mass protests forcing the government to amend anti-rape laws and review measures to ensure security for them, the father said "as long as the mindset of the society will not change, women can never be safe out on the roads."
"There were huge protests and the even the laws were changed and police have become more active and alert, but have the crimes against women stopped?
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'I don't see any change... do you?'
"Every other day cases of rape and sexual harassment are getting reported, where is the change? I don't see any change... do you?" the father said, disappointment writ large on his face.
He insisted that the legal system needs to be "changed" so that rape trials could be conducted within a time frame instilling fears in the minds of the perpetrators from committing such crimes.
"Parents should ask their daughters to be careful when they go out of their houses," he said.
The family would be going to their native home in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh for the rituals on their daughter's death anniversary on December 29, the day when the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern lost her battle for life at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
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One year ago....
On the night of December 16, 2012, the girl was gang raped and brutally assaulted by six persons in a moving bus and dumped by the roadside along with her male friend who was also injured.
One among them was the juvenile, so he was tried by the Juvenile Justice Board which had sent him to an observation home for three years.
Five days after her death, the police filed charges of rape, murder, kidnapping, destruction of evidence against the five adult accused.
Another accused Ram Singh was found dead on March 11 in his cell in Tihar Jail and the trial against him has been abated.
The four adult accused Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh were tried by a fast-track court, which awarded them death penalty on September 13. The sentence is before the high court now for confirmation.
A hearing on the petition filed by parents in Supreme Court has been scheduled for January 6.
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