After Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising urged Asha Devi, the mother of Jyoti Singh Pandey, who was brutally gang-raped and murdered in 2012, to forgive her daughter’s rapists and choose the path laid by Sonia Gandhi after she forgave Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin Nalini, Asha Devi has criticised Jaising’s appeal sharply. In a conversation with SheThePeople, she says, “I don’t find any merit in her appeal. Would she have forgiven the rapists if it was she who was wronged or her daughter like my daughter? I condemn this appeal and see it as a mockery of my daughter’s murder.

Who is she to suggest me anything? How dare she ask me to forgive the rapists? I am a mother who wants to avenge the death of her daughter at the hands of these monsters. I will never forgive her for what she has said. It is because of such people that we see so many crimes happening against women in our society and it is because of such mentality that women like us fail to get justice. She should appeal for forgiveness from all the women in our country for what she suggested to me.”

Also read: Nirbhaya Case: Mercy Plea Rejected By President Ram Nath Kovind

On Friday, Jaising in her tweet said: “While I fully identify with the pain of Asha Devi I urge her to follow the example of Sonia Gandhi who forgave Nalini and said she didn’t want the death penalty for her. We are with you but against the death penalty.”

In the last few days, there have been many developments and setback in the Nirbhaya case from further delay in the date of hanging from January 22 to February 1 now to rejection of the mercy plea of one of the convicts, Mukesh Singh by President Ram Nath Kovind. Asha Devi also shared her dismay and angst on the incessant delays and said, “This has been happening for the last seven years. First, it was the hearing dates and now the petitions. I hope that now February 1 will be the final date of execution but the way our justice system supports the convicts somewhere it is a plot against the victims of gender-based crimes. Courts give all the provisions to the perpetrators and not even in a single law acknowledges the state of those fighting for justice.

The offenders derive strength from these delays and loopholes of our legal system and commit crimes because impunity level is so high. Criminals think that when the rapists of Nirbhaya are still alive then even we can do such horrific crimes and get away alive. I see everyone from our state, judiciary to certain sections of our society standing with the convicts now. They want them to be alive on the pretext of their socio-economic condition.”

She also condemned the functionality of fast-track courts. “When the crime of such gravity happens, the government brings in these initiatives to show that they are doing something to prevent these cases. But these moves stay confined to parliament or media debates. Despite the fact that we have fast-track courts, we don’t see any change in a crime or even fast disposal of such rape crimes.”

“I don’t find any merit in her appeal. Would she have forgiven the rapists if it was she who was wronged or her daughter like my daughter? I condemn this appeal and see it as a mockery of my daughter’s murder.”

Also read: Nirbhaya Case: SC Bench Dismisses Curative Plea Of Two Convicts

On the speculations around her joining politics, Asha Devi debunks the rumours. “I haven’t spoken to anybody on this and I don’t have any connection with politics. I don’t even want to think about it,” she asserts. Ahead of Delhi polls, Congress leader Kirti Azad welcomed Asha Devi in the party in a tweet, however, Asha Devi has shown her absolute disinterest in joining the party. When asked if she would consider politics to amplify the issues of crimes against women in the country, she says, “I have been seeing the women sitting in parliament for the last seven years and I also notice how much they have spoken on women’s safety and done to make public spaces safer for women.”

On December 12, 2012, a Delhi-based 23-year-old paramedic, Singh was gang-raped and murdered in the Vasant Vihar area by six men- Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Kumar Singh, Ram Singh and one juvenile person. Of these Ram Singh committed suicide inside Tihar Jail in 2013, the juvenile person walked free in 2016 after finishing three years in a correction home. The SC upheld the verdict of the death sentence for the rest of the convicts in 2018.

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