NEW DELHI — After the verdict in the gang-rape case that transfixed India, the victim’s parents came back to their new home — the kind of place they had always wanted to own.
The apartment complex in the Dwarka neighborhood of New Delhi has a security guard, newer-model cars in the parking lot and satellite dishes on the roof. Badrinath Singh, 53, had dreamed of such a home all those years he worked 16-hour days as an airport porter.
But one of the three bedrooms is a shrine to his daughter, the 23-year-old victim in the rape case. A lone candle flickers next to a framed photograph of her resolute face.
Four men were convicted Tuesday in her brutal rape and murder, an attack that sparked outrage worldwide. They were scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
Before the young woman’s death in December, Singh had hoped that his daughter would use her poise and smarts to rise from the nearby lower-class neighborhood where she was raised, in a three-room basement apartment with no running water.
Before the night of Dec. 16, when she had gone to see “Life of Pi” with a male friend at a Delhi cineplex, it looked as if she might succeed. The young woman, who had curly hair and large, expressive eyes, had finished a four-year study program in physical therapy and returned to Delhi for a six-month internship.
But she would never see the spacious apartment that her parents and two younger brothers moved into three weeks ago. It was a gift from the government, along with about $62,000 in compensation for her death.
Now there’s an empty space where she would have sat, laughing and chattering with her family, as they ate a supper of her favorite spicy curried beans. Her mother, Asha Devi, 45, said she cannot eat “a morsel” without thinking of the days in the hospital when her daughter cried out, “Mother, I’m hungry,” but could not be fed because of the extent of her internal injuries.
“There’s no memory of her that’s not dear to me,” said her father, sitting on a simple platform bed in the living room. The family had been there such a short time that the apartment was only sparsely furnished. “She was the light of my eyes, which has been snatched away from me.”
The Washington Post does not identify victims of sexual assault, but the parents have allowed their names and photographs to be used as a way of communicating the pain generated by their loss.
In December, their daughter had climbed aboard a private bus with a male friend, eager to get home after the movie.
The attackers on the bus came from modest circumstances, like the victim, but their prospects appeared to be far less promising. Most hailed from Delhi’s Ravi Dass slum. There was Ram Singh, a bus driver who later hanged himself in jail, and his younger brother Mukesh. There was Vinay Sharma, a gym assistant; Akshay Thakur, a helper on the bus; and Pawan Gupta, a fruit-seller. A sixth attacker, now 18, was a juvenile at the time of the assault. He was convicted last month and sentenced to three years in a detention facility. He has not been identified.
The men were drunk and looking for sex, according to the charging document. Although the young woman’s friend tried to fend off the attackers, the couple were beaten and the woman repeatedly raped before the assailants threw them from the moving bus. The young woman died several days later at a hospital in Singapore.
In the weeks that followed, Singh and his family tried their best to deal with the harsh glare of the media spotlight as their eldest child — “India’s daughter,” the media called her — became the catalyst for days of angry protests, focusing attention on the rampant sexual violence against women in the country and leading to a raft of stricter laws aimed at limiting rape, stalking and acid attacks.
The parents of the victim insist that the four men convicted Tuesday must pay with their lives. The judge was to decide whether to give them life imprisonment or the death penalty.
“They have crossed all the limits of humanity,” the mother said. “They must be hanged.”
One of the attorneys for the men, A.P. Singh, said his clients are innocent and will appeal the verdict.
Before a reporter left the family’s apartment, the mother beckoned her into the bedroom where the candle flickered before her daughter’s picture. A little shrine had been created around it, crowded with photos of the young woman and her favorite stuffed animals.
“Whenever we have been out of the house, we come and stand here for some time,” her mother said, brushing away a tear. “We feel we have left her alone for too long.”
Suhasini Raj contributed to this report.