India hangs four over 2012 Delhi bus gang-rape convicts
New Delhi: India executed four men on Friday for the gang-rape and murder of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012 that sparked huge nationwide protests and international revulsion.
The four were hanged before dawn at Tihar Jail in the Indian capital, the head of the prison, Sandeep Goel, told AFP, in India's first execution since 2015.
"All four convicts (were) hanged at 5:30 am," Goel said.
The brutal attack on Jyoti Singh sparked weeks of demonstrations and shone a spotlight on the alarming rates of sexual violence and the plight of women in India where around 95 rapes are reported daily.
The execution sparked small celebrations outside the prison early on Friday.
"We are satisfied that finally my daughter got justice after seven years," the victim's mother Asha Devi told reporters outside the jail. "The beasts have been hanged."
"Today all Indian women received justice," Delhi resident Meena Sharma told AFP, clutching an Indian flag.
"I came here around 3:00 am in the morning. I waited here as today is a great day for us."
Celebrations were also held in Singh's ancestral village in northern Uttar Pradesh state where her extended family members exchanged sweets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the execution on Twitter, saying "justice has prevailed".
"It is of utmost importance to ensure dignity and safety of women," he tweeted.
Many of his cabinet colleagues also expressed their satisfaction.
But rights NGO the International Commission of Jurists condemned the executions, calling them "public theatre that risk celebrating and perpetuating violence at the expense of the rule of law".
Singh, 23, was returning home from the cinema with a male friend on the evening of December 16, 2012 when they boarded a Delhi bus, thinking it would take them home.
Five men and a 17-year-old boy had other, darker ideas.
They knocked the friend unconscious and dragged Singh to the back of the bus and raped and tortured her with a metal rod.
The physiotherapy student and the friend were then dumped on the road. Singh died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital from massive internal injuries.
"A decent girl won't roam about at 9 pm," one of the perpetrators later told a BBC documentary that was banned in India.
The saga was also turned into an awarding-winning Netflix mini-series reconstructing the police investigation.
Nearly 34,000 rapes were reported in India in 2018, according to official data. This is considered the tip of the iceberg, with many more victims too scared to come forward.
But Singh's ordeal, and the fact that she was part of a generation of young women trying to break out of a still very traditional society, struck a chord.
"It was like the bursting of a dam," said Kavita Krishnan, a women's activist who took part in the huge protests. - AFP