Friends recall wedding plans of the Delhi gang-rape victim. She was due to marry her boyfriend in a matter of weeks, was the apple of her father's eye and her friends were convinced she would achieve great things after completing her medical studies.

While the country has seen an outpouring of grief for the 23-year-old who suffered fatal injuries when she was gang-raped on December 16, those who actually knew her paint a portrait of a young woman who was both in love and much loved.

Although not formally engaged, it was well-known to her friends that she was planning to marry her boyfriend who also suffered serious injuries in the same attack that would ultimately lead to her death.

A friend revealed that the girl had been shopping with her for wedding outfits and the contents of a wedding box. “She was supposed to get married in February to the same guy who was attacked on the bus with her,” she says. “They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi,” she told AFP.

Another friend who attended the cremation ceremony on Sunday confirmed that the wedding was due to take place in a matter of weeks. “We know that she was going to get married in February,” said another friend, adding: “The whole neighbourhood was excited about it.”

The young couple had spent the evening together at a mall watching The Life of Pi before they boarded a bus on which the tragedy took place.

According to reports, the frenzied attack on the pair began when the boyfriend objected to taunts about why an unmarried woman was out so late. The gang clubbed him with an iron rod before they turned on her.

The everyday image of a young couple enjoying a night out at the movies has been cited by many to explain why they have been able to relate so much to the victims’ plight.Hard-working student

But others have identified with the back story of a hard-working student from a rural background who was looking to make a name for herself as a young urban professional with the eager backing of her proud parents.

Her parents sold their small piece of land in rural Uttar Pradesh in order to fund their daughter's education, according to friends.

She has been described as being among the top students in her class who was determined to earn well and repay her father who had sold his ancestral land to fund her studies.

Employed as a loader at Delhi's international airport, the father used to say he was "investing in my daughter's future as she will be the one who takes care of me when I get old", according to Meena Rai.

Her childhood was mainly spent in a one-bedroom flat near the airport that she shared with her family.

A younger cousin still living back in the parental village in Uttar Pradesh said the young medical student had been an “inspiration”. “Seeing her do well, I was determined to study as well,” she said.

Other residents of the village recalled a young woman whose passion to succeed in medicine shone through when she visited. – AFP