There were six men who had committed the crime, but Ram Singh, the bus driver, committed suicide and a juvenile accused was released after spending three years in a reform home.
The four men convicted for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi were hanged at 5:30am on Friday, more than seven years after they committed the brutal crime.
The bus’ cleaners Mukesh Singh and Akshay Thakur, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta and gym instructor Vinay Sharma were hanged simultaneously inside Tihar Jail number 3, director-general of police Sandeep Goel said.
Hundreds of police personnel were deployed outside the jail to control a crowd that waited to celebrate the hangings, first in India in a rape case since Dhananjoy Chatterjee was executed for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in 2004.
A doctor inside Tihar Jail examined the bodies of the four men after the hanging and declared them dead, Sandeep Goel said.
“The bodies will now be sent for postmortem at the DDU Hospital. The post-mortem process will be videographed,” a jail spokesperson said.
Officials said the men, who have not left any will, were told about the updates from court late on Thursday night.
Six people, including a juvenile, had gang-raped and fatally assaulted the woman. Prime accused Ram Singh, the bus driver, committed suicide in 2013 and a juvenile accused was released after spending three years in a reform home.
The crime had sparked widespread protests across the country, a massive global outrage and led to toughening of laws against sex offenders in India.
The men accused of the crime were convicted within a year and their death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court in 2017. But its execution took long as lawyers representing these men cited the legal remedies available to the convicts to delay their hanging.
The parents of the woman, especially her mother, continued with the legal battle to see the culprits hanged.
“Finally, the convicts have been hanged. This was a struggle of eight years. It was delayed but we got justice. Today, Nirbhaya got justice and girls of the country got justice. I want to thank everyone – the judiciary, the government, every citizen – for this,” she said while speaking to reporters after the hanging.
“This will be a message for the entire country, she said. “Girls will now feel safer. After the execution, families will start teaching their sons and use the hanging as an example,” she said.
The families of the convicts, meanwhile, kept pleading that the legal system should show some mercy and commute their death sentences into life. Some family members also claimed that these convicts are “innocent”.
As the final petition was rejected on Thursday, the wife of one of the convicts fainted outside the Delhi court.
The four convicts reached the President’s doorsteps multiple times with requests for mercy, and filed petitions in Supreme Court against their conviction. But all the petitions and requests were rejected.
The young woman, who was gang-raped, brutally assaulted and thrown off the bus, fought for her life for nearly two weeks before succumbing to her injuries.
She died in a hospital in Singapore, where she had been airlifted, on December 29, 2012.