Three months after she was abducted, raped and killed, 8-year old rapists have been arrested and a chargesheet filed. The brutality of the crime against the girl child reminds us of the Nirbhaya rape case of 2012 which showed the underbelly of India’s crimes against women.

The following years saw anti-rape laws toughened, the frame worked enlarged to bring in more crimes like voyeurism in the purview and introduced the death penalty as a punishment for a rape conviction. Despite these changes, the assault on the victim happened and a child is dead, killed in a way that not even her rapists even if convicted will have to suffer. Her suffering shows some similarities with what Nirbhaya underwent yet there are differences that show that we as a country seemed to have failed our girls and women, again.

Kathua Rape Victim: 

An eight-year-old girl was kidnapped from Rasana village, Jammu on January 10. According to investigations, she was drugged and held captive for a week before being murdered. The eight-year-old was gangraped thrice inside the temple basement, after the mastermind had “performed rituals" reports Indian Express. She was confined and forcefully fed sedatives, raped repeatedly then strangled and hit on the head twice with a stone — “in order to make sure” she was dead. But not before another accused, a police personnel, asked the others to “wait because he wanted to rape” her one last time.

According to the chargesheet, the mastermind behind the rape and murder is retired revenue official Sanji Ram who is among the eight arrested, along with his son Vishal Jangotra and nephew, believed to be a juvenile.

The Crime Branch has arrested Special Police Officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, a Rasana resident Parvesh Kumar, Assistant Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj in the case. Dutta and Raj were arrested on charges of attempting to destroy evidence.

She had been adopted by her father’s brother as he had lost his own daughters a few years earlier and she was cherished as a delightful, helpful child by her entire village.


The 23-year-old who came to be known as Nirbhaya for giving her testimony on her death bed against her rapists, was gang-raped by six men in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012.

She along with her male companion were returning from a film screening in Saket. Both of them were waiting to hail an auto rickshaw for a ride back home at night when an off-duty charter bus driven by people not driving for commercial reasons passed them and offered to give them a ride to Dwarka from Munirka. Soon, the victim’s companion noticed the route taken by the driver was different than normal and the doors of the bus had been tightly shut. When he objected to it, the bus occupants raised fingers at the boy and the girl saying why were they out at night so late.

Nirbhaya’s companion beaten up, while she was assaulted by five men, raped and then attacked with an iron rod stuffed up her vagina and her uterus was damaged so badly that her intestines fell out of her body, the doctors had said. She died at a hospital in Singapore 13 days later. The victim was born and brought up in Delhi while her parents are from a village in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. She was a physiotherapy intern. Her father had sold ancestral land in order to help her continue her education.

The Similarities

  • Both rapes are crimes of lust, and were committed by a group of men who had conspired about committing this heinous act.
  • The sheer brutality of both the cases gives the reader a pause, unable to digest the horror: Nirbhaya was raped repeatedly, she had bite marks all over her body and then an iron rod stuffed up her uterus. She was found on the road with her intestines coming out of her body. She is an eight-year girl, a child whose body was not developed for sexual intercourse but was raped repeatedly by grown men for over a week. The post-mortem records her uterus was heavily damaged. She was beaten up during her initial kidnapping and finally strangled to death and then her head bashed in with a stone to ensure her death.
  • The crimes were justified in the head of the accused as not mere acts of lust but in the case of Nirbhaya – deserving it because she was out late at night and hence asked for it; while she was targeted to “dislodge” her family, which belonged to a community of Bakherwal Muslim nomads, from the area.
  • The tragic irony that the names of the main accused in both cases have “Ram”. The main conspirator of her kidnapping, rape and subsequent murder is retired revenue official Sanji ‘Ram’ who is among the eight arrested. Nirbhaya rape case main accused 'Ram' Singh, committed suicide three months after being arrested.
  • Both cases have also seen the participation of juvenile boys – Sanji Ram’s nephew, mentioned in the chargesheet is believed to be a juvenile while among the attackers of Nirbhaya, one of the most vicious was a juvenile.
  • The viciousness of the crime against Nirbhaya drew international attention with women's security in India discussed on the front pages of international papers as well as in classrooms and of people's homes. Kathua Rape victim's case too is now being talked about on international news websites and the questions are the same.

The Differences

  • The most tragic difference has to be the response to the rape cases: While the Nirbhaya case drew a collective outrage across India which spilled onto the streets and saw mass protests to ensure a change in India’s anti-rape laws, her s rape and murder has drawn protest by Hindu Ekta Manch and lawyers in favour of the accused rapists.
  • After news came of Nirbhaya’s rape, protests were seen within days of the report. It has taken three months since her parents lodged a missing complaint for their daughter for the accused to be arrested and a chargesheet filed.
  • Nirbhaya case acted as a catalysis for toughening of rape laws in India and it seemed as if the country had reached a turning point. The death penalty was introduced as well as compulsory jail time for police officers who refuse to lodge cases by victims of rape.
  • In Kathua rape and murder case, police personnel have been complicit in the crime by taking bribes to protect the accused and destroying evidence.
  • Political leaders who protested in the aftermath of Nirbhaya's rape, Mos VK Singh, Sushma Swaraj are today part of the government and have not uttered a word in condemnation of Kathua's rape and murder.
  • What bodes terrifyingly ill for the country is her case being drawn into the argument of a Hindu-Muslim context.

As a country the assault and consequent deaths of Nirbhaya and the Kathua rape victim symbolize the victimization of every Indian woman. Yet, her fate shows that communal politics is being used as a justification to commit inhuman crimes and to terrorize the victim and the family. Rape has been weaponized in India as in Africa. We have as a collective nation failed Nirbhaya and the Kathua victim .

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 12, 2018 09:23 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website