A life cut short

NAT

They had met two years ago, on December 20, "through a mutual friend in Delhi". She, a physiotherapy student in Dehra Dun, and he, an electronics-and-communications engineer in Delhi.

"She had got my number from our friend. She sent some blank messages. I thought they were from a guy and I sent back an angry text message telling him to lay off," he says. "I was taken aback when she replied saying she was a girl, not a boy. Curious, I called back and later, apologised," he says. This triggered a series of telephone conversations, text messages, meetings, movies and shopping trips, till that day on December 16, 2012, when their evening went terribly wrong.

After a movie and a mall outing, they had boarded a bus from Munirka in south Delhi and over the next half an hour, six men in the bus had raped his friend, brutalised them and thrown them off the bus near Mahipalpur flyover in south-west Delhi. After battling for life for 13 days, his friend had died in a hospital in Singapore on December 29.

It's just days after her death and the wounds are still raw. At his home in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, where his parents live, he sits with his right leg in a cast. "She trusted me to guide her," he says. Over the months, he would start speaking to her family on the phone, offering her brother advice on the choice of his engineering course—electronics and communication, not computers—offering to help her father file an FIR when someone threatened him in the colony, offering her money when her mother underwent a hysterectomy in April last year.

He visited her in Dehra Dun a few months ago, even met her HoD, and took her shopping. He helped write her resume for her internships and they were researching on colleges where she could apply abroad for her post-graduation, while he prepared for the civil services. He was her friend, philosopher and guide.

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