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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.


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. :/
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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)
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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.
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)
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)
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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