Govt could institute bravery award named after gangrape victim

The ghastly gang rape incident, which has led to the death of a 23-year-old paramedic student in the capital, has evoked an unprecedented public outcry all over the country. Though the alleged rapists are all behind bars and could end up on the gallows if the prosecution has enough evidence and argues its case convincingly in the court, the government could actively consider naming a National bravery award in the memory of the victim. The victim’s name has not come out in public domain in accordance with the existing law, which forbids naming the rape victim. But the father of the deceased has indicated that he would have no objections if any new law were named after her. Several legal experts are of the view that under the prevalent practices, a law cannot be named after an individual but all agree that Parliament can enact any legislation, which can overrule existing practices.

While all these arguments can lead to delay on one count or the other, the government can if it wants institute a National award in memory of the victim if her family gives its consent. The Indian Council of Child Welfare following the brutal killing of the two Chopra Children by notorious criminals Billa and Ranga in 1978 instituted such an award. Every year during Republic Day celebrations, two brave hearts get the Sanjay Chopra and Geeta Chopra awards for courage and acts of valour. Though nothing can compensate the passing away of innocent victims, there are things, which can be done to honour them. The death of Chopra children was as ghastly as that of the present gang rape victim and there are striking similarities in the two cases.

Geeta and Sanjay Chopra were abducted in a vehicle and killed after the two criminals raped the girl. In the present instance, the victim along with her companion was also abducted and gang raped and both were severely beaten and left to die on the road. The girl ultimately succumbed to her injuries and brutal assault while her friend has survived.

There is a strong demand for a new law to punish the rapists and the government has appointed a commission headed by retired Chief Justice JSVerma to submit its report after wide consultations. There is a consensus that rape laws should invite stringent punishment for the accused but even if the existing laws are applied properly, the perpetrators of the crime cannot go unpunished. Billa and Ranga were both hanged due to meticulous and good work done by Delhi police detectives who used forensic help to gather irrefutable evidence. The Billa Ranga case was a unique case in the sense that the accused were identified even before the bodies of the victims had been recovered due to the modus operandi they had used to abduct the Chopra children. The Bombay police had tipped off their counter parts in Delhi that Billa and Ranga had used a similar modus operandi in some cases in Bombay. The police also managed to recover fingerprints of the accused from the stolen Fiat car found abandoned in Majlis Park near Jahangirpuri in North West Delhi. They had also stumbled on a blood stained thumb impression on the MLC sheet at the Willingdon Hospital (Ram Manohar Lohia hospital) where the accused had gone to get themselves treated. The Crime Branch headed by Mr. Rajendra Mohan eventually cracked the case, which was initially investigated by the South District police. Many of those associated with the investigations including Piara Singh, the ACP and Rajinder Kochar the IO have long retired from active service.

Even in the present case, the Delhi police has very strong forensic and circumstantial evidence corroborated by witnesses. The Commissioner of Police Neeraj Kumar has successfully investigated many key cases and taken them to logical conclusions. There is little doubt that this will happen in the present instance as well.

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