|A boy lights a candle to pay homage to the rape victim at Jantar Mantar on
New Year’s Day. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, Jan. 1: The six December 16 gang-rape accused would habitually drink through Sundays and take out the chartered school bus at night to pick up sex workers, a senior police officer said.
Police sources alleged that the accused, charged with murder after the victim’s death on Saturday, had tried to run her and her male friend over after throwing them out following the assault, but the friend had somehow dragged the victim away from the vehicle’s path.
“On Sundays, the accused would first take the bus out to ferry passengers, earn extra bucks and buy more liquor. At night, they would pick up roadside sex workers and have sex inside the bus,” the officer said.
On December 16, a Sunday, the victim, a 23-year-old trainee paramedic, and her friend had boarded the bus at night thinking it was a public bus.
The privately owned bus, which had tinted glass panes and curtains, ferried children to and from a Delhi public school on weekdays. The officer said driver Ram Singh had told investigators about the Sunday night “fun rides”.
On December 16, the accused had apparently partied at Ram’s one-room home at a south Delhi slum till evening, cooking chicken and drinking heavily, before setting out with the bus. Ram’s younger brother Mukesh was at the wheel. Ram, gym assistant Vinay Sharma, fruit seller Pawan Gupta, bus cleaner Akshay Thakur, and the sixth accused, who claims to be a minor, sat inside.
They picked up passengers and robbed one of them, Ram Adhar, of his gold chain, the officer said. Here’s the subsequent sequence of events as mentioned in the FIR, which will be part of the chargesheet to be filed on January 3 in a fast-track court, seeking the death penalty for all the accused:
At 9.15, the accused spot the couple waiting at Munirka bus stop and ask them their destination. Told that it’s Dwarka, they say the bus too is headed that way. The unsuspecting couple board it. They mistake three of the accused, sitting in passenger seats, for commuters. The cleaner shuts the door.
The accused pass lewd remarks at the victim, asking why she’s alone with a man late at night. When the friend protests, he is attacked. The friend beats up two accused but the gym assistant attacks him with an iron rod.
Three accused drag the woman to the back seat and rape her; the others join in later. The victim fights back and bites the hands of three accused, who get angry and brutalise her with an iron rod. Hair and blood samples of the victim have been found on Ram’s nails.
After 45 minutes of brutality, the accused strip the duo and throw them out of the moving bus on a roadside after taking away their cellphones and wallets. Ram asks Mukesh to run the couple over.
Ram takes the wheel from Mukesh and drops the other accused home. He cleans the bloodstains before parking the bus at its owner’s place in Noida in the early hours. Two eyewitnesses have claimed to have seen Ram destroy evidence.
“We shall prepare the final chargesheet by tonight or tomorrow morning,” an officer said. The police tonight received the post-mortem report. The autopsy was conducted in Singapore, where the victim died.
The draft chargesheet mentions Ram as the prime accused. His wife died in 2008. An inquiry has revealed he is an alcoholic and a short-tempered man who regularly picked fights with neighbours, an officer said.
The accused have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, gang rape, unnatural offences, kidnapping, hurting a person while committing robbery, dacoity and destruction of evidence, read with the section on common intention.
The police today booked bus owner Dinesh Yadav in a case of cheating and making a false statement on oath to a public servant, PTI reported.
Yadav allegedly gave a false affidavit about his home address to get the bus registered with the transport authority.