By Maxwell Pereira
It was the morning of September 7, 2003 when we were informed
at Anand Vihar Police Stattion by Dr Rajan, on duty at the Shanthi
Mukund Hospital in East Delhi, that a private nurse engaged to
look after a comatose deaf and dumb 70-year old patient, had been
raped and assaulted by the hospital auxiliary help, sweeper Bhura.
The police registered a case on the statement of ward boy, Vyas
Sharma, who following his nose on sighting bloodstains on the
floor outside a bolted toilet door, had stumbled on to the victim
inside. The girl had injuries on her face, and managed to tell
the rescuer that she had been sexually assaulted.
Later in her
statement, the victim gave details. That sweeper Bhura had tried
to outrage her modesty while she was sleeping on a bench in the
old patient’s room, and on her threatening to report against
him, he had thrashed her mercilessly, tried to throttle her and
raped her. When she regained consciousness she had found herself
in the toilet with the door bolted from the outside.
of their own, the Shanti Mukund Nursing Home referred the victim
to GTB Hospital for further treatment, even as the police lost
no time in arresting the accused. A thorough investigation was
also ensured, ‘midst all the accompanying public fury and
the connected media, politician, government and women’s
groups interventions, that any such case would naturally attract.
And, apart from associating a lady police officer with the investigation
of the case right from inception, the police also pressed into
service its area Rape Crisis Intervention machinery through NGOs
Pratidhi and Swanchetan, to counsel and provide possible succour
to the victim and her family in the given circumstances.
days of the incident, the victim’s right eye damaged during
the assault, developed complications – ending up with the
attending doctors completely removing it and further adding to
the trauma. This led to more furore with allegations of medical
On the recommendation
of the National Commission for Women, an inquiry committee was
constituted then by the DelhiGovernment to look into the procedural
and the medical lapses on the part of the hospitals involved.
This medical board appointed by the Director Health Services was
tasked to ascertain whether adequate and appropriate treatment
was provided by both hospitals to the victim, whether there was
any lapse or negligence on the part of the attending doctors or
in providing treatment, and whether there was any lapse in providing
the required security to the private Keralite nurse at Shanti
Mukund. In its findings, the Board indicted the hospitals and
many individual doctors severly for their role in the entire episode
– but it is not known what action followed thereon.
exercise was also undertaken all over, to evaluate the safety
of nurses working in different hospitals generally, so that recurrence
of such incidents could be avoided. The public outcry and the
media attention attracted, necessarily made those in authority,
the elected representatives and prominent party big-wigs and similar,
to jump in the fray and join the bandwagon to say their bit, show
their face, or make their presence felt.
prompted some of these worthies, including the government, to
declare sizeable compensation packages to the victim. But amidst
all, one witnessed some other unsavoury human facets as well.
Much as the case deserved sympathy and empathy for the sheer heinous
nature of the assault, the mental trauma and agony suffered over
the rape and the loss of an eye, there was no derth of drama and
intrigue too on the part of whoever that could provide it, including
the victim’s family who were not at all bereft of their
own machinations or deftness at handling the matter.
the Shanti Mukund rape case slipped from public mind, as other
rapes and more issues edged out the presence of its memory from
one’s mind. All the while, the criminal case progressed.
The charge-sheet had been filed and the trial went on. The police
ensured that the witnesses deposed, and the prosecution did its
job of conducting the trial. The case got the attention of the
special fast track courts constituted by the Delhi Hight Court
to try some sensational cases in the public eye with a view to
ensure speedy justice. Till one day recently, the case burst on
to the screen yet again with a bang – with Bhura’s
conviction on judgement day.
case though, will not now be erased from public memory that easily.
It will go into the annals of history, not just for the conviction,
but for the attrocious and preposterous offer of the accused expressing
condescendinly his willingness to marry the victim – made
to the court on sentencing day before it could pronounce the sentence.
It will be remembered for the manner in which the presiding authority
of the court in turn, referred this indecent proposal to the victim
prosecutrix for her consideration, justifying its act with the
explanation that it was open to the prosecution to oppose the
proposal and seek its dismissal. This shocking remembrance, despite
the judge finally dealing out the maximum sentence of life imprisonment
to the accused, after outright rejection by the victim of the
are the ways of the world. What would have happened if the girl
had said yes! Would the judge have given a different sentence
then even though there is no provision in law to consider it as
a mitigating circumstance? What else? …well, one lives and
words: dated 16.05.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725
Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and email@example.com
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