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6 May 2017

Convicts wail, Tihar mates cold - On death row, 4 shun food

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, TT, New Delhi, May 5: Three of the four men whose death sentences the Supreme Court upheld today in the December 2012 bus gang-rape-cum-murder spent the day sobbing and wailing in Tihar jail but the fourth remained stoical.
Jail sources said that as Vinay Sharma, 25, Akshay Thakur, 32, and Pawan Gupta, 24, wept inconsolably, they received no sympathy from fellow inmates.
"Normally, when death sentences are awarded or upheld, co-prisoners try to console the condemned inmates, but not today," a prison official told The Telegraph.
Mukesh Singh, 36, the fourth convict, remained impassive. "It was a foregone conclusion that we would be hanged," he told jail officials.
Prison sources said the convicts had looked tense since morning, aware that the apex court would pronounce its verdict today, and were glued to the TV set inside the common hall.
They spoke to no one as they waited for the judgment, hoping their death sentences would be commuted to life terms because of "mitigating factors".
The trial court had in September 2013 sentenced the remaining four to hang and Delhi High Court had upheld the sentences in March 2014.
Jail sources said the quartet had been placed under special watch to ensure they did not attempt suicide.
"We don't want to take any chances as they are very depressed and are keeping to themselves. They have not touched their food since the verdict," a prison official said.
The victim's mother said her faith in the judiciary had been vindicated. "I thank each and every Indian who supported us. They (the convicts) were beasts; they deserve the punishment."
She and her husband wore blue to court today because, they said, it was their daughter's favourite colour.
Her husband said: "I had doubts - what if the apex court commuted the death sentences? Finally, justice has been done, except that one accused is free (a minor, he was released after three years at a remand home)."
A pall, however, descended on four homes in south Delhi's Ravidas Camp, a working-class colony where the convicts' families live.
As their TV sets announced the news, an eerie silence pervaded the colony. "We are poor and that's why even the Supreme Court failed us," said Ashok, Pawan's father and a security guard.
A few residents hoped that today's verdict would close the "horrific chapter" that had earned the colony the moniker of "Criminal Camp" and allow them to live normal lives.
"We have suffered enough humiliation and taunts and felt ashamed to tell people that we lived here. I hope that people will now let us lead normal lives."
A.P. Singh, one of the defence lawyers, claimed the accused were "innocent" and that even if they had to be punished, they should have been given life terms.
"All of them are young.... But this is expected when the people of this country turn bloodthirsty," he said. He blamed "political pressure" and his clients' poverty for the verdict.
Anil Sharma, the police officer who headed the probe, said: "When I met the victim in hospital I had vowed I would get her justice."

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