|San José State University|
& Tornado Alley
and Justice in Mumbai
One evening in the spring of this year (2015) a young journalist and her fiancé were out walking. They went down a street that is normally well lighted but at that time the street lights were out. While they were in this secluded area three young men came up to them. Two attacked the fiancé and one followed the journalist as she tried to get away. When she did get away the men attacking the fiancé let him get away and he fled in fear. The journalist hid in a large trash container. The men left but came back in a van. The journalist, thinking that the men were gone permanently, came out of hiding and was looking for a way to get home.
The men grabbed her and put her in the van. They then proceeded to drive along that same unlighted street and rape her repeatedly. She was then dumped out of the van onto the street at an early morning hour. Someone picked her up off the street and drove her to her parents' house and left her off. She was only semiconscious for several days straight. When she was conscious her parents told her that they did not want her ordeal reported to the police because of the social shame that would fall upon her and her family. The strange thing was that whoever gave her a ride home took two pictures of her that were sent to the media company where she worked.
She did however report the crime and her case came to the attention of a woman L who had been trained as a lawyer but had not practiced law but instead operated a public organization to help women who had been abused. She decided to help the journalist but she had to get permission from a national government agency to do so. In India rape victims are represented by public service lawyers. These lawyers are typically overburdened and cannot devote much time to individual cases.
The journalist's employer M also decided to help. From the victim's descriptions they were able to locate some of the places where the van had traveled. At one they found that there was a camera on the gate to a house. The owner of the house at first did not want to share the camera pictures but as a result of the entreaties of L, M and the victim he gave in. From the camera they found a picture of the van that the victim could identify. Tracing the van revealed that it had been stolen from a garage where it had been taken for repairs. However the location was important in that the victim remembered that a cell phone had been used. In India it is possible to identify the cell phone that was used to make a call at a particular time from a particular location. So the identity of the cell phone owner became known and this led to the identification of three young men by the victim.
The owner of the cell phone claimed that it had been stolen. At the court hearing the three men were released for lack of corroboration of their involvement in the abduction and rape. L requested a second hearing.
At the second hearing the victim's fiancé testified that the three men were not the ones who abducted the victim. L requested a third hearing and this was granted. The three men were not kept in custody. Outside the court the victim confronted her former fiancé about his false testimony and slapped him in the face. The victim's employer was with her at the court hearing and noticed that the former fiancé drove away in a white luxury car. Previously he owned nothing more than a motor bike. The victim and her employer realized that the former fiancé had been bought off.
At the court hearing the three accused men were represented by two very expensive lawyers. Since the three accused were poor it was very suspicious that they would be so represented. The lawyers for the defendants presented receipts purporting to show that the defendants were in a hotel outside of Mumbai on the night of the crime.
After the court hearing the victim and her employer went the house of the mother of her former fiancé. The fathers of the victim and her fiancé had been friends and had wanted their children to marry. The father of the fiancé had died but his wife carried on his desire to see the two married.
At the house of the mother of the former fiancé the victim and her employer told the mother of her son's giving of a false statement to the court. While they were there the son came home. The victim and her employer hid while the mother confronted her son about his giving false evidence to the court. He did not deny it and the victim's employer got a recording of his statements. The mother was outraged and ordered her son out of her house and disowned him.
Meanwhile the victim went on television to ask for anyone who had any evidence of her abduction and rape. She revealed her true name whereas the practice in India is to protect the identity of rape victims.
One person who heard that request was the victim's family doctor. The victim's parents did not want vaginal swabs taken but had called in the doctor because of the physical abuse their daughter had suffered. The doctor knew that the law required her to take such evidence of rape. To not do so would have risked her license to practice medicine in Mumbai. The doctor then supplied that evidence to the court.
Meanwhile the victim's employer called the former fiancé and told him that he had made a recording of a call that the former fiancé had made on his cell phone. It was not true but it made the former fiancé leery of using his cell phone. He wanted to contact the person who had given him the large amount of money for giving false evidence at the second court hearing. He thought he would have to contact that person in person. The victim's employer followed the former finace and found the person that bribed the former fiancé and had obviously paid for the expensive lawyers for the accused.
He was a rich Mumbai businessman. His connection to the victim was that she as a journalist published evidence that his son had been the driver of a car involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident and had been sent to prison. The rich man had gotten his driver to take responsibility for the accident and thought that he had saved his son from prison.
The plea by the victim on television had also resulted in a store-owner providing a tape showing the accused were in Mumbai on the night of the crime.
The defendants and their lawyers went to the third court hearing expecting that the case would be dropped for lack of corroborating evidence. Instead the they found that the court ordered the accused to submit to DNA testing. That evidence revealed that all three had raped the victim. The lawyer of the victim despite her lack of experience had outmaneuvered the high priced lawyers for the defense.
The three rapists were each given five years in prison and the businessman who organized the evil crime was placed in custody to be later tried as was the former fiancé. The victim and her employer later married.
The fact that whoever gave the victim a ride to her parents' house had taken pictures of her where she was lying in the street reveals the elaborate evilness of the crime. The person who gave her a ride was there at the instigation of the businessman and the pictures were to show her disgraced by rape. The evil businessman perhaps thought that her employer would fire her as a disgraced person.
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