New Delhi: Neighbour Mukesh Kharia brought sweets to the family of Nirbhaya shortly after the four convicts in the gruesome gangrape-and-murder case were hanged, saying he was "very positive" that justice will be delivered eventually.
The 34-year-old entrepreneur who lives a few blocks away from the residence of Nirbhaya's parents — Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh — in Dwarka and handed over a box of 'gulab jamun' to the uncle of the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who was brutalised by these men in unimaginable ways on the fateful night of December 16, 2012 in Delhi, scarring the soul of the nation.
"I knew few days back only that the hanging will eventually happen, and the wait for the justice would be a bit longer but that judgement day will come, and it came today. We salute the spirit of Nirbhaya's mother's fight and today we stand with them as we did before," Kharia said.
Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) were executed at 5.30 am for the savage assault on Nirbhaya in an empty moving bus.
Not only Kharia, but many women from the neighbourhood also queued up outside Nirbhaya's parents' home and sang songs and hugged Asha Devi.
Gomti Mattu, 45, general secretary of the area's RWA cheered and sang 'Hum Honge Kamyab', 'Itni Shakti Hame Dena Data' and other motivational songs to celebrate the day.
"We have been standing with this family ever since they moved in here, and outside the main entrance of the colony, there is a wall where since December 12, 2019 we neighbours have been observing candlelight vigil ever since. Today is a historic day," she said.
Badrinath Singh said though no celebrations have been planned at their Delhi home, Holi will be celebrated in his native village in Ballia district.
"After seven years, Holi festivities will take place in Ballia. We are getting calls from people in Patna too. Everyone is so happy, and for us it is a load off our chest," he told reporters after the pre-dawn execution.
Lata Kakkar, husband Rajesh Kakkar and his brother Ankit Anand also came to meet the Nirbhaya's family and congratulate them.
"We have been taking part in the candlelight vigil since December 12, 2019 every day, outside the main entrance. A few days ago, we were observing the vigil and it rained furiously, but we continued, and one of the candle flames remain unextinguished. So, I knew it was a good omen," Anand said.
Puja Arora, 32, and daughter Simran Arora, 13, also joined their fellow neighbours in greeting the Nirbhaya's family in the morning.
"No one could sleep at home, my daughter made tea few hours before the hanging time, and after the execution, we came to Asha ji's flat and wished them. She was emotionally moved but she is very strong inside, and that's how she fought this battle so long," Puja said.
Jail officials said the bodies of the convicts were kept hanging for half an hour, a mandatory procedure after execution as per the prison manual.
This is the first time that four men have been hanged together in Tihar Jail, South Asia's largest prison complex that houses more than 16,000 inmates.
The executions were carried out after the men exhausted every possible legal avenue to escape the gallows. Their desperate attempts only postponed the inevitable by less than two months after the first date of execution was set for January 22.