“We often played cricket together. He was known in the area for his fast bowling and had ambitions to perform at the highest platform of the game,” says Ravi, remembering his school friend Vinay Sharma, one of the perpetrators in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case in which a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was brutally gang-raped. Vinay was sentenced to death by hanging on September 13, this year by a city court.
Speaking to The Hindu, Ravi recounts the shock and disbelief when the news about the gang-rape incident broke at the Ravidass Camp in R.K. Puram. “ Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta (the other perpetrator) were like any other average, ambitious young men.’’
A year after the incident, the residents of Ravidass Camp want to distance themselves from the gang-rape case, which led to a year of hardship and uncertainty for them.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a resident said: “This year has been very difficult for us, especially the first few months after the incident. Our neighbourhood was filled with protesters, the police and the media. In fact, a protester even tried throwing a projectile, but the police managed to diffuse the tense situation on time.’’
She said the residents had to form night patrol parties because they felt insecure . “We also resented the stigmatisation that was attached to the address,’’ she added.
They also had complaints against the media with many claiming its intrusion further stigmatised and troubled them. “We feel that some sections of the media victimised us for their TRPs. They portrayed us as uncivilised and associated us with all kinds of crimes,’’ said another resident.
Among a cluster of houses, in one corner stands Vinay’s residence. His family struggles for sustenance with no primary bread winner. His mother and sister have mounting medical bills apart from other daily expenditure.
While his mother was not available for comment, neighbours said she was heartbroken and harboured a sense of guilt for her son’s actions.
The other perpetrators, Ram and Mukesh Singh’s family have moved back to their village. This decision was taken in the wake of Ram’s alleged suicide in Tihar Jail and completion of the trial. Locals say they were unable to cope with the shame of their sons’ crimes and the stigma and intense media attention that followed.