A group of eight men accused of raping and murdering a 28 year old mentally unstable Nepali woman have run out of lawyers to represent them in a court hearing due this week. The perpetrators, including a Nepali national named Santosh Nepali, are accused of killing the victim on 1 February in the Indian city of Rohtak, roughly 90 kilometres from New Delhi.
Niman Singh Chhetri of Migrant Nepalese Association India told southasia.com.au that the local bar association recently announced that none of its members would take up the case for the rapists. He said the families of the accused had initially hired some local lawyers but they eventually had to withdraw under pressure from people of Nepali origin who Chhetri said are strongly supported by local Indian political parties and organisations.
“When we learned that, we went to the Bar Association and lobbied with them and then they held an internal meeting upon which they declared that the Bar Association would not defend such a heinous crime,’ the Rohtak-resident told southasia.com.au on 17 March.
When reminded of the need for a legal representation of the accused in order to ensure a free and fair trial, Chhetri said, “A government lawyer can help them if they like.”
The gesture of the Rohtak lawyers comes in stark contrast to the lawyers who feature in controversial BBC documentary India’s Daughter. There has been a huge public outcry in India against the two lawyers of the Delhi rapists who openly spoke in support of the brutal crime of their clients who raped and killed a young medical student on a moving bus in December 2012.
The Rohtak victim was visiting her sister, who worked as a domestic help, to seek treatment for her mental health condition. This further angered the local public who took out a 7000-strong protest rally on December 7 demanding death penalty for the perpetrators.
The victim was picked up by the assassins, who eventually became a 9-men strong gang, in the afternoon of 1 February and her body was spotted by a farmhand on 4 February. Local news reports said at the time that her hands were missing and foreign objects like sticks, blades and stones were found inside her private parts.
It was also revealed that there was almost no flesh in the body between abdomen and the head. Dogs were seen scavenging in the area, reports said.
Rohtak Police would later confirm the horrific manner in which the woman from Nepal’s Dang district lost her life. Apparently, the nine men had no plans to kill the victim initially but one thing led to another and things got out of hand, the murderers admitted to police.
The Migrant Nepalese Association India has said the victim’s family has already received INR 500 thousand as compensation from the Haryana State Government. And the organisation is further lobbying with the district administration office for another INR 300 thousand, Chhetri added.