Relationship between Delhi Braveheart and her friend, who was also badly injured that night, was a very sweet one.
This is how they met:
The two first made contact in December 2010. It wasn’t exactly a success. A mutual friend had suggested that the young man might help her with her studies, and gave her his number.
“Hi, how are you?” she texted him. “What’s going on?”
He thought it was the mutual friend, playing a prank.
“I know who you are, man,” he replied. “Is this your new number?”
“I am not a boy, I am a girl,” she responded.
The mutual friend intervened to end the confusion. Two months later, when the young woman was visiting New Delhi from her college in Dehradun, about five hours’ drive away, he went to meet her for the first time at the bus station.
He approached the person he guessed was her. She was wearing a red top, a blue skirt and high heels, he says.
By way of breaking the ice, he walked up and asked: “Where do I get a bus to Dehradun?”
Without even looking up, she pointed away. So he had to introduce himself.
Over lunch at McDonald’s and an afternoon tour of Delhi’s ancient Red Fort, they started getting to know each other. “I told her that I am from Gorakhpur,” a city in northern India, he says, recalling that day. “That I am from a Brahmin family. I have two brothers and three sisters. I am very close to my mother. That my father is a lawyer. That I worship God daily. That I am a foodie and like to go for movies. I drink milk daily. I am fond of wristwatches and have a good collection of them.”
They shared a lot of time and also their lives in many ways. He gave her his facebook login details and they together visited many pilgrimages – Haridwar, Vaishno Devi, Shirdi Sai Baba temple and Rishikesh. They had a close and sweet relationship.
On their trips, they would share a hotel room. They held hands and hugged, he says, but didn’t go further. “Regarding the man-woman relationship, I have conservative views,” he says. They sang, joked and played cards and chess. He thought about her often when they were apart.
What happened that night still haunts him every day and how it could have been different. How, she would think that if they had delayed their coming back a little longer, they might have missed the bus.
When they met on Dec. 16, the day of the attack, the two hadn’t seen each other for several weeks. “It was a strange and boring day,” he says.
That evening, after watching the movie “Life of Pi” at a mall, they strolled by a fountain and snapped some pictures. He wanted to linger, but she was eager to get home, he says.
They hailed a motorized rickshaw to a bus stop where she could catch a ride home. A bus was there waiting, and someone on board called out to them, he says: “Didi, where do you have to go?” Didi means elder sister. The person calling out was the juvenile defendant later accused in the crime, the young man says.
The young man says the two boarded the bus and sat in the second row. The row in front was occupied by two men who appeared to be passengers, as did two other men seated across the aisle, he says.
Things were normal for about five minutes, he says, and he began to relax. “It’s OK for today, but don’t board these kinds of buses in the future,” he says he told his friend.
Then, three of the men asked the couple what they were doing with each other out at night, he says. That is when he knew they were in trouble.
He and his friend started shouting. She tried to call the police, but one of the men snatched her phone away, he says. He got into a struggle with one of the men. He says he heard shouts of “Bring the rod, bring the rod!”
He was struck repeatedly on the back of the head, and pounded on his legs, he says. Dizzy and bleeding, he fell to the floor. Police have accused the assailants of using a metal rod from the bus’s luggage rack in the assault.
She was dragged to the back of the bus, he says. The lights were off. He heard her crying for help, but he was pinned to the floor by one or more men, he says. Police allege she was gang-raped and sexually assaulted with a metal rod.
“I go to that moment again and again,” he says. “Just an hour before, everything was fine, and all of a sudden, everything had gone horribly wrong.”
Finally, he says, he heard the words, “She’s dead, she’s dead.”
The couple was thrown off the bus at the side of a highway, according to the young man and the police. The two had been stripped naked. His friend was still alive. Eventually, they were brought to a hospital.
He now weighs what their relationship was and what could have happened, had they not met such a fate that night.