16th December 2012 changed India & Indian Women forever.
It was the day that awakened Indian women – to break their silence and to fight for their rights and safety. To fight for her – NIRBHAYA.
“Nirbhaya” is like a sister code that we, Indian Women, never had.
The code that binds us all together. When an Indian woman hears the word Nirbhaya, irrespective of age, dreams, career, they feel the same pain – the pain of losing one of her own!
It was like any other night of winter when a 23-year-old girl boarded a bus around 9:30 pm. She was returning with a friend after watching a movie.
What happened between 9:30 pm to 11:00 pm that day, that one and a half hour, shook the nation, and brought humanity to shame.
Though many of us remember the awakening that this horrendous case brought – the mass protests, the convict trials, series of law amendments, but very few know about the woman who was behind ensuring the justice that Nirbhaya deserved.
The one who solved this barbaric case and led to a nation-wide awakening kept herself away from the limelight for a long time.
Netflix series & Emmy Winner, Delhi Crime’, where the role of protagonist Vartika Chaturvedi (played by Shefali Shah) is inspired by her – the erstwhile DCP South, Chhaya Sharma.
Chhaya has been the woman of determination, grit, and power.
And, solving Nirbhaya Case in a record time of 5 days will go as one of her key achievements. Along with a team of 41 police officers, Chhaya brought all the perpetrators under custody in 5 days!
Around 2:00 a.m. in the night, when Chhaya got a random call from a passerby, who took the gang-rape victim and her deeply injured friend to the hospital, she felt it was a usual rape case.
Until she met Nirbhaya, who was so brutally assaulted that she was directly placed on a mechanical ventilator.
Multiple serious injuries on her abdomen, intestines, and genitals could have made any woman lose her calm and composure.
But, the way Chhaya determined herself to put these abusers behind bars, shows her grit and nerves of steel.
In conversation with Quint, DCP Chhaya Sharma shared:
“As a policewoman, I was only thinking I have to crack this case because it was not an ordinary case. The injuries that the lady suffered were not the injuries that a normal rape victim would suffer. Rape as such is a heinous crime but with those kinds of injuries they just made it more macabre.”
Even after the presence of the victim and the statement of her friend, the case wasn’t any easy as it may seem today.
Recalling the incident and brutal injuries, Chhaya shared:
“The first initial reaction to having met the victim, the family and then hearing what the doctors had to tell me about the nature of her injuries was horrific.”
While mass protests broke across the country to seek justice for Nirbhaya, Chayya knew they were looking for a needle in the haystack.
Revealing the details of the investigation, Chhaya shared,
“When we got a list from RTO, we found out there were 370 buses registered only in Delhi. Whereas, if you counted the number of buses in Gurgaon and UP it would have been a bigger number.
So for us, it was like looking for a needle in the haystack.
So whatever clues we kept getting we kept adding and modified our search. A lot of things started falling in place and slowly we landed at the conclusion.”
Describing Nirbhaya as a strong woman, Sharma said,
“She was a very courageous woman who was very clear in her thinking process. Inspite of the trauma that she was going through she was able to speak and narrate the incident and was very confident.”
Shefali Shah, the lead actress of ‘Delhi Crime’, spoke about Chhaya Sharma’s grit and determination. In an interview, Shefali shared:
“All the case had was scattered leads but I don’t think she let herself believe for a moment that it’s not going to happen. All she wanted to do was crack the case in the fastest way possible.”
At IFORHER, we believe when a woman decides to fight for the right of another woman, incredible things happen! And, that’s what the inspiring story of Chhaya is all about.
She worked without fear with one objective in mind – to put the accusers behind bars. And, that’s what she did in the record time of 5 days!
In the aftermath of Chhaya’s fight for the rights of Nirbhaya and every Indian girl, many progressive changes happened to India’s legal system to make sure no daughter of India meets the same painful fate.
Some of the most welcoming changes were – Fast track courts for rape cases, the law of giving an option of sentence lesser than the minimum 7 years was abolished. And, the definition of rape was expanded and oral sex, as well as insertion of an object or any other body part into a woman’s vagina, urethra, or anus, was included in the act.
In an era, when evidence manipulation and corruption in the system go hand in hand, a woman like Chhaya instills the public’s faith in the law.
She inspires all the strong women to come out of the shell and fight back against injustice.
Though Nirbhaya couldn’t witness the changes and awakening that she brought, we feel wherever she is, she must be feeling thankful and proud of our Super-Cop “Chhaya Sharma” – who got her JUSTICE!