It was past 10 p.m. on a chilly December night. Three policemen, who were on patrol duty in a Police Control Room vehicle in South Delhi, were taking a round of the area when they received a distress call, probably the most important one in their career.
“Mahipalpur flyover Gurgaon ki taraf se utarte hi GMR ke gate ke samne ek ladka aur ek ladki bina kapde ke baithe hain…public ki bheed hai (A girl and a boy are sitting without clothes in front of GMR gate under the Mahipalpur flyover towards Gurgaon. A crowd has gathered there),” was the message received by the PCR team that took the gang-rape victim and her male friend to hospital.
Head Constable Ram Chander and Constables Birender and Suresh were on duty in the PCR van Zebra-54 when they received the call at 10-24 p.m. Ram Chander and Birender share the story of that night with The Hindu: “It was the first PCR call of the day for us as our duty had started at 8 p.m. Birender was the gunman and Suresh the driver of the PCR van that night. We were at Sanjay T-point on Palam Road when we received the call. We left the spot immediately and reached the spot by 10-31 p.m.,” said Chander.
He added: “On reaching the place, we saw a huge crowd. Suresh started to disperse the crowd, meanwhile Birender and I went ahead. We saw a girl and a boy lying near the bushes. They had no clothes on them so I wrapped them in a bed-sheet with the help of a local in the area. Somebody got a sweater for the girl and a shirt was given to the boy. After this, Birender and I lifted the girl and put her in the back of the PCR van. The boy was also taken in the van.”
Birender said, “The public still believes the allegation of the victim’s friend that the police was not ready to help them. This is completely wrong. I was the one who lifted the girl from the ground and put her in the van. I always wear gloves whenever I have to attend to an accident call. That day also, I wore my gloves and shifted the girl to the van. I threw my gloves after that. If I had any idea that I would be questioned like this, I would have saved them as proof.”
Added Chander: “We started from the spot at 10-35 p.m. and it took us around 20 minutes to reach the hospital. The victim was talking to us throughout the way. She told me she and her friend boarded a bus from Munirka and after travelling some distance, the men in the bus attacked them. She said they beat up her friend, took her to the rear of the bus and raped her. Meanwhile, I took her father’s contact number from her and called him up. The girl told me not to tell her father that she was raped. I called him up and told him that his daughter was involved in an accident and that she was being taken to Safdarjung Hospital. I tried to contact the boy’s family as well but his father’s number was not reachable. After reaching the hospital at 10-55 p.m., I took both of them to the emergency ward. When I told the doctor that the girl had been raped, he asked me to take her to a separate ward meant for women. I left the boy in the emergency ward and took the girl to another ward. Her father reached the hospital at 12-15 a.m. The whole PCR team stayed in the hospital till 4 a.m. A constable from the local police station reached the hospital at 1 a.m.”
A year after the incident, Ram Chander and his team can still recount the exact sequence of events that occurred that night. “Everything that happened on the night of December 16 is alive in my memory as if it happened just yesterday. I feel deeply sad when I think about the girl’s condition that night. I pray that her soul rests in peace,” said Chander.