“I came here for my own hearing in another case, but decided to stay back when someone told me that the verdict on the December 16 gang-rape case will be pronounced today. I wanted to see how those demons, who committed something so heinous, looked. I want to see them hanged,” said a 30-something man sitting on a bench outside Justice Yogesh Khanna’s courtroom at the Saket Courts Complex on Tuesday.
Even if one was to overlook the person’s ignorance about the fact that he wouldn’t be allowed inside the courtroom or that the convicts are usually brought with their faces covered or that the sentencing would take place another day, his feelings about the verdict summed up the mood of many gathered there.
While the verdict itself — which held Mukesh, Akhsay, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta guilty under all the Sections except one they were charged with — was on expected lines of the victim’s family.
However, the events leading up to its pronouncement that was delayed for two hours brought moments of anxiety, curiosity and restlessness to almost everyone present there.
There was a marked change in the tone and tenor of some defence lawyers, who initially sounded upbeat about acquittal of their clients, after the delivery of the judgment.
A high-voltage drama preceded the pronouncement with arguments between the security personnel and a group of journalists after the police told them that representation from the media would remain confined to a select group whom the Delhi High Court had allowed to cover the trial.
With moist eyes, the family members of the 23-year-old victim queried the prosecution lawyers about the verdict, and their response after receiving the news was short and measured.
“I cannot say whether I am happy or sad. My soul will get peace only when all of them are awarded death sentence,” said the victim’s mother wiping away her tears as she walked out of the courtroom along with her husband and son.
On the other end of the spectrum were the visibly grief-stricken parents of Mukesh.
Following the verdict, the mother of Mukesh and his brother and co-convict Ram Singh (now dead and, hence case against him abated) said that she feared that her son might be given a capital punishment.
Her interaction with the media was cut short by Mukesh’s father who asked her to move on.
A group of protesters — some of whom had blindfolded themselves with a black cloth, which had December 16 Kranti written over it — assembled outside the court.
They said that all the convicts should be sentenced to death and demanded that stricter laws be drafted for all sexual offenders, including juveniles.
At Ravi Dass Camp in R.K. Puram, Vinay Sharma’s mother claimed her son was innocent and that he was framed.