India sets 2012 gang rape convicts’ executions for January 22

NEW DELHI (AP) — A death warrant was issued yesterday for the four men convicted in the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a New Delhi bus that galvanised protests across India and brought global attention to the country’s sexual violence epidemic.

A New Delhi court scheduled the hangings for January 22, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The warrant has been anticipated since India’s Supreme Court rejected one of the men’s final review pleas last month. India’s president can still intercede, but that is not expected to happen.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student whom Indian media dubbed Nirbhaya or ‘Fearless’, because Indian law prohibits rape victims from being identified, was heading home with a male friend from a movie theatre when six men lured them onto a bus. With no one else in sight, they beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her.

The pair were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later.

The assailants were tried relatively quickly in a country where sexual assault cases often languish for years. Four defendants were sentenced to death. Another hanged himself in prison before his trial began, though his family insists he was killed. The sixth assailant was a minor at the time of the December 2012 attack and was sentenced to three years in a reform home.

Chair of the Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal applauded yesterday’s court announcement on Twitter.

“I salute her mother who has fought for so long,” she tweeted. “It is a victory for all the fearless people of this country. This is the time to punish every rapist in the country so that a strong message is sent out.”

Asha Devi, mother of the victim of the fatal 2012 gang rape on a moving bus, speaks to the media as she leaves a court in New Delhi. PHOTO: AP