India hanged four men on Friday who were convicted for the rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, in a case that shocked the world and shamed the country over its appalling record for crimes against women.
The men were executed at dawn in Tihar Jail, on the outskirts of the capital, four television news channels reported.
Hundreds of police men were deployed outside the jail premises to control the jubilant crowd that waited with placards to celebrate the execution of the men for the attack that shone a spotlight on women’s safety across India.
The crime, which happened on the night of Dec. 16, 2012, sparked massive protests and global outrage. The victim was dubbed Nirbhaya — “the fearless one” — by the Indian press, as she could not be named under Indian law.
Six men were arrested for the attack. One suspect, Ram Singh, was found dead in his jail cell in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life.
“Today, justice has been done after seven years,” the victim’s mother told reporters outside the prison. “I salute Indian judiciary and thank God for hearing our prayers.… My daughter’s soul can now rest in peace.”
Another man, who was aged 17 at the time, was released in 2015 after serving three years in a reform facility — the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India.
The four — gym instructor Vinay Sharma, bus cleaner Akshay Thakur, fruit seller Pawan Gupta and unemployed Mukesh Singh — were sentenced to death in 2013, following fast-tracked court proceedings.
In 2017, the Supreme Court of India upheld death sentences against the four men, with judges ruling the crime met the “rarest-of-the-rare” standard required to justify capital punishment in the country.
Earlier this year, India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, rejected pleas for clemency from the condemned men, after they submitted mercy pleas.
Attacked on a moving bus and left for dead on a roadside, the victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, clung to life for two weeks before succumbing to her injuries. She died in a hospital in Singapore, where she had been transferred in a desperate attempt to save her.
Outrage over her death led to India passing tough new laws against sexual violence, including the death penalty for rape in some cases.