NEW DELHI: “My friend was grievously injured and bleeding profusely. Cars, autos and bikes slowed down and sped away. I kept waving for help. The ones who stopped stared at us, discussing what could have happened. Nobody did anything,” said the friend of the Delhi gang-rape victim in his first interview after the December 16 shameful crime that shook India.
In his interview to Zee News channel, the 28-year-old engineer, identified as Awindra Pandey by the channel, narrated in a composed voice how he and his 23-year-old friend, named Nirbhaya/Damini by the media, were thrown naked off the bus by the six men and how people just looked at them and drove away.
Worse still, cops of three police vans which came to their help wasted valuable time to take them to hospital by arguing over as to under whose jurisdiction the case came, he said.
“The police did not pick us up. One of them tore a sheet and offered it to me to cover my friend. In my injured state, I picked her up and put her in the PCR van.
“The police took us to Safdarjang Hospital rather than going to the nearest private hospital. Had it not been late at night when there’s hardly any traffic on roads, my friend would have died that very day,’’ he said.
Narrating their two-and-a-half-hour ordeal of that fateful evening when he and his friend made the fatal mistake of boarding a chartered bus from Munirka in south Delhi at 9 pm, he said immediately the culprits started making lewd remarks about her friend to which he objected.
“A fight started between me and the three accused. Then two more joined in and they hit me with a rod. All the while, my friend was shouting and trying to help me. After they hit me, I became partly unconscious. They pulled my friend to the rear of the bus… I could hear them later saying she is dead when they started hitting me again,’’ he recalled.
He said the culprits kept driving the bus around while they committed the crime, robbed them of all their belongings, threw them off the bus naked and tried to run them over.
The young man said when they reached hospital he had no clothes on him. he said he begged for clothes but nobody listened. “When we reached the hospital, I sat without clothes on the floor for a long time even as my friend was taken inside for treatment,’’ he recalled.
Asked whether he ever thought that his friend will not survive, he said she was very determined to live and see the guilty punished.
“She gave all details of the crime to the magistrate, things we can’t even talk about. She told me that the culprits should be burnt alive…I never thought she won’t live. She used to smile when I visited her. She used to tell her family not to worry. She asked about expenses. She was attached to her roots as any other commoner,” the software engineer told the news channel.
In his indictment of the Indian government’s decision to airlift her to Singapore, he said the decision was taken because of growing protests.
“When they thought the pressure was too much to handle, they moved her to Singapore. Had she been taken to a good hospital in the first place, she would have been alive,’’ he said.
But Delhi Police denied the allegations of delayed response, saying that two police vans (PCR vans or police control room vans) reached the victims within minutes after getting the distress calls.
“The PCR call was received at 10:22:20. Call broadcast to PCR vans and Van Z-54 was directed to spot, the Delhi Police said in a statement, adding that the victims were to hospital 33 minutes after receiving the first call.
Giving a sequence of its response, the Delhi Police said, “Meanwhile PCR van E-42 reached the spot on its own at 10:26 – in four minutes. Van Z-54 reached spot at 10:28 i.e. within 5.5 minutes of the call. It left the spot with victims at 10:31 i.e. within three minutes. It reached Safdarjang Hospital within 24 minutes at 10:55. All records as per GPS (Global Positioning System).”