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Man Accused Of Driving The Bus Involved In India Gang Rape Killed Himself In Jail

9:33 am - 03/11/2013
Ram Singh Dead: Man Accused Of Driving The Bus Involved In India Gang Rape Killed Himself In Jail, Police Say

NEW DELHI — A man on trial for the gang rape and fatal beating of a 23-year-old student aboard a New Delhi bus committed suicide in an Indian jail Monday, police said, but his lawyer and family allege he was killed.

Ram Singh, who was accused of driving the bus during the December attack, was under suicide watch in a cell with three other inmates at New Delhi's Tihar Jail when he hanged himself with his own clothes about 5:30 a.m., police officials said. His death in custody raised further questions about a criminal justice system already under attack for failing to protect the nation's women.


`'It's a grave incident," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said. `'It's a major lapse."

The government had ordered a magistrate's inquiry and would take action after it received the report, he said.

Singh, 33, had been among five defendants facing the death penalty if convicted of the rape attack, which horrified Indians and set off national protests. A sixth accused is being tried and jailed separately because he is a juvenile.

Ram Singh's family and lawyer alleged foul play in his death.

"There were no circumstances which could have led to Ram Singh committing suicide. There was no mental stress. He was very happy," his lawyer V.K. Anand said. Lawyers for the defendants had previously accused police of beating confessions out of the men.

Indian jails have a reputation for overcrowding, poor management and brutal treatment of inmates.

Ram Singh's father, Mangelal Singh, said his son had been raped in prison by other inmates and had been repeatedly threatened by inmates and guards. Nevertheless, he said he visited his son four days ago and the man appeared fine and gave no hint of any despair that could drive him to take his own life.

Ram Singh also had a badly injured hand and would have been unable to hang himself, his father said, speaking from outside his small home in a New Delhi slum.

"Somebody has killed him," he said, saying he would push for a top-level investigation into the death.

Mangelal Singh said he feared for the safety of another son who is also on trial in the rape case.

The defendants were being housed in separate buildings on the jail grounds and were all under suicide watch, a jail official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

During a news conference, Shinde declined to say how Ram Singh could have managed to kill himself without alerting the other three inmates in his small cell or the guards who were supposed to be monitoring him under a suicide watch.

Vimla Mehra, the director general of the jail, declined to release details of the incident.

"The inquiry is being conducted and it would be premature to make any statement about the details of the incident," she said.

The rape victim and a male friend were attacked after boarding the bus Dec. 16 as they tried to return home after watching a movie, police say. The six men, the only occupants of the private bus, beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her, police say. The victims were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died from her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

The attack set off nationwide protests about India's treatment of women and spurred the government to hurry through a package of laws to protect them.

Singh's death comes as the trial was deep underway, with another hearing scheduled for Monday. The four surviving defendants were produced in court, but left after a short time because of an attorney's strike.

Vivek Sharma, a lawyer representing another defendant, said he planned to ask the court to provide greater protection for his client.

"In a high-security jail, an occurrence of this kind is highly condemnable. It raises the serious issue of security of the accused persons in the jail," he said.

"My clients don't feel safe in Tihar jail," said another defense lawyer, A.P. Singh.

K.T.S. Tulsi, a former top lawyer in the office of the solicitor general of India, said the suicide should have no impact on the trial, which is being held in a closed courtroom under a gag order that prevents news organizations from publishing details of the proceedings.

He said the death highlighted how important it is for society not to demonize people who have been accused but not convicted of crimes.

"It is so unfortunate that the media goes on to presume that they are guilty and goes on to condemn them and demonize them to an extent that it makes the life of these people not worth living," he said.

In 2011, 68 inmates in India killed themselves and another eight were killed by fellow inmates, according to India's National Crime Records Bureau.

Tihar Jail is badly overcrowded with nearly twice as many prisoners as it was designed to hold. Jail authorities have been working to soften its reputation in part by selling TJ's cookies baked by the inmates to the public.

Source

I can't help but think he took the easy way out, rather than take the punishment he had coming.
akashasheiress 11th-Mar-2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
''I can't help but think he took the easy way out''

Yeah, I'm really not comfortable with that statement.


lady_tigerlily 11th-Mar-2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
THIS.
mutive 11th-Mar-2013 03:15 pm (UTC)
"There were no circumstances which could have led to Ram Singh committing suicide. There was no mental stress. He was very happy,"


I have a hard time believing this, considering that the circumstances do not jive with my concept of "very happy". "Not-suicidal" I could see, although from what I gather, figuring out whether someone is or is not suicidal is rather difficult to judge.
tin_penguin 11th-Mar-2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
Suicidal people often seem happier to those around them once they have a plan in place. That's part of why it often comes as a shock to friends and family. I highly doubt that "there was no mental stress," but I can believe that he might have been happy. Just probably not for the reasons his lawyer thought he was. :/
boogans 11th-Mar-2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
"I can't help but think he took the easy way out"

This is really gross, not because I'm particularly upset that a rapist is dead, but because it furthers the stigma against people who struggle with suicidal tendencies.
girly123 11th-Mar-2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
This. My heart isn't exactly overflowing with sympathy for this bus driver, but comments like that do no good for the rest of us.
astridmyrna 11th-Mar-2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
Exactly.
fm_gatekeeper 11th-Mar-2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
MTE. Characterizing suicide as "the easy way out" is so, so gross.
lady_tigerlily 11th-Mar-2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thaaaank yoooooou.
blunder_buss 11th-Mar-2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
If that sentence was for suicides in general, I'd agree. Except it seems that in all likelihood this guy did it to escape the consequences for his actions, so he really DID 'take the easy way out' in this context.
boogans 11th-Mar-2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
I don't really feel that death is an escape from consequences, honestly. It's not like he's getting off scott-free, headed out back into society to enjoy the rest of his life- he's dead. That's it for him.


Edited at 2013-03-11 08:49 pm (UTC)
ginger_maya 11th-Mar-2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no. He was headed where he deserved to go - to court, where he most likely his actions would've been exposed, and he would've been judged and convicted for the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of that poor woman. By killing himself he denied this woman's family closure, he denied justice being done, as much as justice can be done considering his crimes, he denied society its right to function in an orderly, lawful manner. For all thoughts and purposes, he did take the easy way out.
fm_gatekeeper 12th-Mar-2013 05:31 am (UTC)
To use your words, yeah, no. Death is a pretty big consequence if you ask me, and I'm not sure how much more severe you can get in terms of justice. And I really doubt he looked at the idea of going to court and went "you know, I think I'll take the easy way out."

Also, putting aside the specifics of this case for the moment and speaking more generally, because I'm incredibly pissed right now:

Suicide is not weakness, and we should stop characterizing it as such.

Suicide is not "the easy way out," and we should stop characterizing it as such.

Suicide is not an offensive maneuver, and we should stop characterizing it as such.

Given the specifics of this case, no one is shedding any tears for this guy (and if they are they shouldn't be). But these characterizations of suicide hurt suicidal people who have not raped, mutilated, and murdered women, as well. People commit suicide because they see no other option, not because they are weak and taking the easy way out, or because they want to hurt people. These are problematic generalizations and they need to be called out as such, even if the specific case is one in which the opinion seems almost valid.
tin_penguin 12th-Mar-2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Suicide is not weakness, and we should stop characterizing it as such.
Suicide is not "the easy way out," and we should stop characterizing it as such.
Suicide is not an offensive maneuver, and we should stop characterizing it as such.


THANK YOU.
anolinde 11th-Mar-2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
+1
keeni84 12th-Mar-2013 12:43 am (UTC)
Agreed.
mistress_siana 13th-Mar-2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, this.

Edit: And I say this as someone who's been suicidal herself. Context is important.

Edited at 2013-03-13 05:55 pm (UTC)
astridmyrna 11th-Mar-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
Shinde declined to say how Ram Singh could have managed to kill himself without alerting the other three inmates in his small cell or the guards who were supposed to be monitoring him under a suicide watch.

The guards weren't watching because the jail is overcrowded and/or the inmates assisted in his suicide?

Edited at 2013-03-11 04:16 pm (UTC)
lomesir22 11th-Mar-2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
My heart doesn't exactly runneth over at the news, but

I can't help but think he took the easy way out

 photo flatno_zps12aec0f1.gif
vulturoso 11th-Mar-2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
I like how that is a gif, even though his expression doesn't change.
soleiltropiques 11th-Mar-2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
"I can't help but think he took the easy way out, rather than take the punishment he had coming."

This statement makes me rather uncomfortable -in part for the reasons people stated above but also because this article gives no details of the nature of the proof that this person was involved in the crime.
liret 11th-Mar-2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
The crime has been in the international news for three months and almost every single article describes what happened in graphic detail, which makes the 'nature of the proof' pretty clear. I mean, the 'easy way out' statement is still really gross, but it isn't because we don't know enough to tell if this guy might just have innocently gotten a woman onto his bus and driven for hours while she was raped, beaten, and tortured to death.
soleiltropiques 11th-Mar-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
Just to be clear: I would certainly never wish to defend someome who is responsible for participating and/or standing by while a woman was raped and brutalized and murdered. It was certainly not my intention to suggest this -I apologize if this was unclear on my part.

It is only that I do become rather uncomfortable with the idea of stating that someone should die without knowing all the facts. I know that many articles have covered the events regarding this young woman's tragic death in detail, but the I have not seen the details of the case against any one person (this is possibly (probably?) a failing on my part and not the local justice system's).
234_am 11th-Mar-2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
first off, i don't believe that suicide is ever an 'easy' way out of anything.

i theorize that he was killed. if you are on suicide watch, you are watched. i say that from my experience in Canadian institutions where suicide literally was not an option. this is India, not Canada, but still. i find it highly suspect, especially given the violence that convicted rapists and child molesters face upon incarceration.

it seems kind of poetic, like it or not.
ennifer_jay 12th-Mar-2013 10:12 am (UTC)
i theorize that he was killed. if you are on suicide watch, you are watched

I said the second statement to my roommate. In the US if you're on suicide watch you're checked on every five minutes. I never thought about him being killed, though. Hmm

Edited at 2013-03-12 10:12 am (UTC)
234_am 12th-Mar-2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
it's really hard to kill yourself if left with nothing but teeth or nails in a rubber room. it sounds near impossible with three other men nearby PLUS supposed guards. meh. i'm totally skeptic.
rhysande 11th-Mar-2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
Ram Singh's father, Mangelal Singh, said his son had been raped in prison by other inmates and had been repeatedly threatened by inmates and guards.

[...] There was no mental stress. He was very happy," his lawyer V.K. Anand said.

I'm finding it hard to scrounge sympathy for the bus driver, but even so. ... There's another level of WTF underneath the misogyny and rape culture WTF.
zinnia_rose 11th-Mar-2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no kidding. Who is "very happy" while they're being raped and threatened in jail?

I'm not shedding any tears that this guy is dead, but nobody deserves rape.

Edited at 2013-03-11 10:13 pm (UTC)
wathsalive 12th-Mar-2013 08:44 am (UTC)
seriously to think about the amount of privilege and blatant ignorance required to say something like that and be sincere is making me so angry
rhysande 12th-Mar-2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't understand your objections, but as I am interested in growing as a person and being able to see beyond privilege I would be delighted if you explained what you feel I'm in the wrong about. For my part, I was simply trying to point out that the bus driver was being raped and abused by fellow inmates and guards - itself an outrage and violation of human rights no matter what that human has done - and no one, not even his father, seemed to think that it would cause mental stress.

ETA to clarify that by "no one" I am referring to people such as the lawyer and the father.

Edited at 2013-03-13 01:15 am (UTC)
wathsalive 13th-Mar-2013 04:53 am (UTC)
omg i'm sorry if i worded my comment wrong but I was agreeing with you

Any criticism in my comment was referring to the complete asshatery of the lawyer that your quoted in your comment. I was referring to the lawyer's privilege and complete unawareness of rape culture etc.

(Sorry - i hope I don't come off as being angry - I did get a bit triggered by you mistaking me for being a rape apologist but I'm not angry, just a bit triggered is all lol)
rhysande 13th-Mar-2013 05:34 am (UTC)
Oh, no! Now that I've read your comment again, I can see it. It's been a dense day for me, brain-wise. I've read your comments elsewhere so I know you are not a rape apologist. It never occurred to me, when I thought you were disagreeing with me, that that was what you were saying. I'm so sorry about triggering you.
bgd_thrifty 12th-Mar-2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Suicide is in no way an easy way out regardless of the reasoning behind it. He's dead. That's it; over. I think it's equally likely that he killed himself or was killed. What they did on that was absolutely brutal, disgusting and completely incomprehensible so I can't say that his death affects me very much, though. I have a twinge of sympathy for that moment at the point of his death but he's gone now and that's that.

I don't feel that this is a particularly good example of people who shouldn't have been demonised before they were convicted although I can agree with the sentiment. In this case, isn't it like Oscar Pistorius, where they know who did it? I get easily confused with these cases.

I hate the way people talk about inmates in general, though. They're still humans, with myriad reasons why they might be in jail. Terrible living conditions and human rights abuses aren't justified just because they committed a crime (and in some cases, didn't). There's no point in making martyrs of innocent people who fall through the gaping cracks in the system. Why not make conditions better instead?
mahsox_mahsox 12th-Mar-2013 09:03 am (UTC)
Weren't several of the perpetrators related? Maybe he took a good look at everyone's chances and decided that everyone's situation was more or less hopeless but the others would have a better chance of getting off more lightly if they had a dead guy to blame as much as they could.
zanbam 12th-Mar-2013 09:08 am (UTC)
My two cents is that he killed himself to preserve what little honour he had left. If he's dead, he won't be charged guilty and his family's name won't be dragged through the mud. Y'all are looking at this suicide through western eyes.
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