Ten years after the brutal gangrape, in which the accused burnt her private parts with a cigarette lighter, she is still a voice of courage and determination.
Zahira (name changed) was only 13-years-old when she was subjected to a brutal crime that became her most horrific memory. Today, she keeps herself busy with computer and English classes, and aims to become self-independent.
“I want to study further and be a judge. Then I’ll pass the judgements quickly in cases of other such girls. I often think that it’s been so many years, why haven’t I received justice yet?”
To help her family with financial assistance, Zahira worked as a maid in houses in Aashiana colony of Lucknow. But on May 2005, an incident completely altered her life. While she was returning home from work that evening, four men in a Santro car dragged her inside. Zahira recalls:
“Before I could make sense of anything, they rolled the windows up and sped off. Initially there were just four men. Then at Nishatganj, two more joined in. The six of them tore my clothes. They were abusing me loudly and laughing. They hit me and burnt me with cigarettes. The more I begged and cried, the harder they slapped, punched and kicked me. Then beating me, they raped me.”
The culprits were identified as don-turned SP leader Anna Shukla’s nephew Gaurav Shukla and his friends Bhartendu Mishra, Saurabh Jain, Aman Bakshi, Asif Siddiqui and Faizan. Zahira said:
“They even had a gun and Gaurav Shukla and his friends hit me with the gun’s barrel. Then they inserted it inside my urinary tract and burned the area with cigarettes. I was bleeding profusely and was almost unconscious. Then I remember the car reached a farm house. They pulled me out and dragged me in that naked state to a room. They threw me on the bed and all of them were on me. They were gnawing and chewing every part of my body; beating, abusing, burning me. Then, they left me to die on the roadside.”
Even after 10 years, she and her family are tirelessly fighting for justice. Though her case was forwarded to the fast track court, charges against the prime accused, Gaurav Shukla, are yet to be framed. Gaurav has remained free all these years and is now married.
But recently, the fast-track court ruled that Gaurav was not a minor when the crime was committed, which means he will be tried as an adult. Earlier, the lower court sentenced Faizan to life imprisonment while Bhartendu Misra and Aman Bakshi were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Asif Siddiqui and Saurabh Jain died in separate road accidents.
Zahira, who passed her 10th examination by enrolling in an open school, wants to get a job she deserves and not as a charity gift by politicians and social workers. She wants to be at par with the other girls. And she isn’t willing to give up. She said:
“I will not give up. The day I get justice, I will have a new life.”