Radhika murder: Passers-by watched like spectators
Rediff.com's Sahim Salim tracks the Radhika Tanwar muder case that has shocked the student community in New Delhi. The manner in which the Delhi University student was shot dead in broad daylight by a stalker rips apart claims by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit that the national capital is now safer for women.
Young Radhika Tanwar had a fixed schedule.
She left home at 9.15 am every day to meet with her friends, Simy and Jaya, to catch a bus to their South Delhi college. They always took the low floor DTC bus from Naraina bus stop, which dropped them opposite their college on the Ring Road. The three friends would then take the foot-over bridge to walk to college. Along with her family and friends, someone else knew this schedule -- her stalker.
And on the International Women's Day, he struck. Just as 20-year-old Radhika was walking down the crowded foot-over bridge, her stalker, who was right behind her, shot her. Nobody on or under the bridge tried to stop the assailant, who quickly fled the scene and disappeared into the crowd at the Benito Juarez Marg.
Radhika, who took a bullet on her spinal cord below her neck, collapsed and died within minutes. For a shocked minute, nobody reacted.
A beat police constable, Sanoj Kumar, and one of Radhika's college mates, Aditya Singh were the first ones to react. While Aditya tried to chase the assailant, the police constable stopped a three-wheeler. Radhika was rushed to the nearby Safdarjung Hospital, where she was declared brought dead.
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Image: File photo of Radhika Tanwar
Not even a single eyewitness had responded to police's request
Radhika's friends and the police constable received almost nil help from the passers-by, who stood as spectators.
A policeman posted in Dhaula Kuan police station told rediff.com, "Constable Saroj Kumar told us that nobody came to his or Radhika's friends' help. They just watched. In the end, it was three of Radhika's friends who carried her to the waiting three-wheeler."
The apathy continues. Deputy Commissioner of police (south), HGS Dhaliwal said that even now, not even a single eyewitness had responded to police's request to come forward.
"Nobody, who was in the area at the time of murder, has come forward with a detailed description of the killer. It is not possible that in such a crowded area, nobody saw the murderer. We request anyone who has seen the accused to come forward and be a witness," the DCP said.
Image: The over-bridge where the shooting took place
'Stalker had some sort of obsession with the deceased'
A police officer said they had to run around all day on Tuesday to piece together a description of the accused, whose sketch was then successfully prepared.
"Even after announcing repeatedly in the area, inviting eyewitnesses, nobody came forward. We had to individually track down each witness. Some of them either don't want to come on record or pleaded ignorance. Some witnesses claimed they just saw his back, while others said they saw him follow right behind her. Finally, on questioning her shocked friends and the beat constable, we have got a description of the accused, whose sketch we then prepared," said the officer.
"Close friends and family of the deceased are likely to have information that could help identify accused, since he most likely had been trailing Radhika for some time. Prima facie, it looks like the stalker had some sort of obsession with the deceased and this could very well be the motive behind the crime," DCP Dhaliwal said.
Image: A video grab of Radhika's college ID card
Another stalker in the past?
Radhika was a student at Ram Lal Anand College. She resided with her family in WZ-415 A, Naraina Village. Her brother, Vipin Tanwar is a first year BBA student in Delhi, while the other brother, Praveen is in class II. Her sister, Rajni is studying in Gwalior.
A police source, meanwhile, told rediff.com that their investigations have led them to a stalker, who had trailed Radhika for about a month, three years ago.
"We questioned her friends, who told us that a boy used to stalk her, professing his love for her. This was while the girl was studying in class XII in a government school in her village in Naraina. So much was this boy's obsession for her that he used to follow her home after school. Radhika did not know the boy, as he was not from the same school or village," the police source said.
Police officials said that the girl had complained to her friend, Aditya (the same friend, who had tried to chase the stalker from the bridge). Aditya and two others from her village had stopped the stalker when he was following her.
They questioned him and when the boy could not give any satisfactory answer, they warned him. They also roughed him up, threatening him not to follow Radhika. After that, the stalking had stopped.
Image: The suspect's sketch released by the police
'I cannot believe that she is dead'
"We are questioning the three boys to get a lead in the case. We want to identify this stalker. He was not from the area and might as well be the accused. Her friends who took the bus with her on the fateful day also have told us that a boy had been stalking Radhika for a week," the source said.
Radhika had told her friends about the earlier stalker she had and was afraid that it could be the same boy, a police official said. This was how it led them to question the three boys about him.
Radhika's family is yet to come to terms with her murder. Her mother keeps repeating that she was a brave girl.
"It is yet to sink in. I cannot believe that she is dead. Everybody keeps telling me that she really is dead, but I don't believe it," an aggrieved Mamta Devi says.
'She was the kind of girl to actually stand up to a misbehaving man in a bus'
"Her murderer is such a coward. You don't know my daughter, she was such a brave child. She always stood up to everything. She was so fiercely independent. She never used to be scared of anyone. She was the kind of girl to actually stand up to a misbehaving man in a bus," Mamta Devi says.
Devi says that the murderer did not even give her daughter a chance to fight back.
"I am telling you. If she had been attacked from the front and not the back, my daughter would have fought back. I am sure that coward shot her from the back because of this," Devi says.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit visited the Tanwar household on Wednesday to assure the family of prompt action and speedy justice.
Radhika's father, Rajender Singh Tanwar, a property dealer, told rediff.com, "The police asked us if she had any stalker. But she never told us of anyone like that. She was very brave and used to deal with happenings like this on her own."
Image: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit
'This city does not guarantee safety for women'
Radhika's friends described her as an outgoing student.
"She was friendly with everyone and always had a ready smile. She was average in studies, but was a part of so many extracurricular activities," her friend and classmate, Abdul Kalam told rediff.com.
Meanwhile, hundreds of students from various Delhi University's south campus took to the streets, protesting the murder. Waving placards and shouting slogans against the Delhi police and administration, the students complained that there was no safety for women in the capital city.
"Radhika was shot dead at 10 in the morning in full public view. And the police still don't have even a clue. This is unacceptable. This city does not guarantee safety for women," Sweta Sangwan, a student of Radhika's college said.
'Difficult to digest that incidents like this happen in a city with a woman CM'
The protestors gathered near the Atma Ram Sanatan Dharm College after information about the protests was circulated widely amongst students through SMS and posters.
"Delhi is extremely unsafe for women. We have to show our anger before something like this happens again. It is difficult to digest that incidents like this happen in a capital city with a woman CM. This is just not acceptable," Ashwati Menon, a student of Moti Lal Nehru College said.
Suman Tanwar, president of Ram Lal Anand College Students Union said that they would continue the protests till justice was done.
"We will continue to protest against the Delhi administration. A student being shot by a stalker in broad daylight is just not acceptable. Crime against women is a common occurrence in and around south campus," Tanwar said.