New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) and Reuters: The family of Ram Singh, the main accused in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case who allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail, alleged that he was murdered and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the incident.
“He has not committed suicide. He has been murdered and then hanged. I am saying this on the basis of the fact that evidence has been erased. He could not move his hand as it was fractured,” his father said.
Ram Singh was the driver of the bus that picked up the 23-year-old physiotherapy student and her male friend. He and five others, including a juvenile who has to be tried under a law for juveniles, then raped and brutalized the girl, and assaulted her friend, and dumped them by the road.
The girl died of severe injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital to which she had been taken for treatment at the last minute.
Ram Singh’s father said there should be a CBI inquiry into the incident.
“I am also demanding that the post mortem be held in front of me,” he said.
Asked whether there was any threat to his life, the father said Singh was beaten up inside jail.
He said his son had already admitted that he had committed a crime and that he himself had said that he should be punished.
Forensic experts have visited the Jail premises to collect samples. Singh was under depression for the past couple of days and last evening, he even did not have food, jail sources said, a claim contested by his lawyers.
Since it was a death under suspicious circumstances, Delhi government ordered an inquiry by a Metropolitan Magistrate.
“Singh was not alone in the cell when he committed suicide. Other inmates were present and a guard was also posted. But nobody came to know about it.
Ram Singh's lawyer said his client had been composed and calm when he spoke to him on Friday and that there were other inmates in his cell, raising questions about whether it was a suicide and how it could have gone unnoticed by staff in India's highest security prison.
The lawyer and a prison official said Singh had not been on suicide watch.
All six accused have pleaded not guilty to rape and murder.
Tihar prison authorities ordered a magisterial inquiry after Singh was found hanging in his cell at around 5 a.m., prison spokesman Sunil Gupta said.
Singh's lawyer, V.K. Anand, told Reuters that his client did not appear to be distressed when he spoke to him on Friday.
“I believe he was satisfied with the way the trial was proceeding because we had a very strong case against the prosecution's claims,” he said.
“This is not suicide, this is something else. I know he had a few complaints of jail authorities torturing him, but nothing that would make him take his own life. We can't rule out foul play. Nothing is adding up,” he said.
Anand has previously always denied that his client was being maltreated in prison. He did not elaborate on the “torture”.
Singh had been kept in a cell with other inmates, he said.
A former director of the jail, Kiran Bedi, said Singh should have been kept isolated from the main prison population.
“High security prisoners cannot be part of the community, they must be separate because the other prisoners will not accept them,” she said on CNN-IBN television news channel.
Singh's mother cried uncontrollably and punched herself in the chest as her husband helped her into an auto rickshaw in the Delhi slum where they live. “He left me,” she said repeatedly. The parents were headed to a hospital to see their son's body.
“Its a conspiracy. We don't believe he would commit suicide,” said a relative who did not want to give his name.
The trial of the five adult men started in February while the juvenile's trial began last week. Ram Singh's brother Mukesh Singh, gym assistant Vinay Sharma, bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh and fruit vendor Pawan Kumar are the other men on trial.
Under Indian law, the juvenile cannot be named.
Singh was a bus driver despite an accident in 2009 that fractured his right arm so badly that doctors had to insert a rod to support it. He appeared on a reality television show in a compensation dispute with a bus owner, who in turn accused Singh of “drunken, negligent and rash driving”.
In the show, the moustachioed, slightly-built man was seen walking stiffly and holding his right arm at an awkward angle.
Singh's neighbours in the south Delhi slum where he lived described him as a heavy drinker with a temper. One young woman said he used to get embroiled in violent rows and a relative recalled a physical altercation with her husband.
The physiotherapist's brother said he was “not very thrilled with the news that he killed himself because I wanted him to be hanged ... publicly.”
”Him dying on his own terms seems unfair. But, oh well, one is down. Hopefully the rest will wait for their death sentence.”