Munirka to Mahipalpur, 24 hrs later

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It's 9.15 pm on Monday, and the bus stop at DDA flats in Munirka is dark and deserted. A day before, on Sunday, at the same time a 23-year-old paramedic student and her friend boarded a private bus. They had just finished with a movie at Saket mall and were looking to go home, when the "conductor" of the Whiteline bus called for passengers to Dwarka.

The woman and her friend got on the bus, and it proved to be journey that altered their lives forever. The woman was tortured and gangraped, while her friend was beaten and made to watch.

Twenty-four hours later, the only evidence of previous night's horror were television news camera crews parked outside the Munirka police station, half a kilometre from the bus stop.

After picking up the two, the bus was driven to Mahipalpur via Rao Tula Ram Marg. Three PCR vans are usually stationed on the route, of which the bus did two rounds. The two were dumped naked at a deserted spot in Mahipalpur at 10.20 pm.

Newsline took 20 minutes to go from Munirka to Mahipalpur, from where the bus took a U-turn under the NH-8 that leads to the airport. Also seen on route were three police Gypsys patrolling the stretch.

Except the traffic signal in Mahipalpur from where the bus took a U-turn, the 7-kilometre stretch is signal-free.

At 10 pm, in Mahipalpur, a green private bus zipped past. It did not take the U-turn, but stopped to pick up passengers heading to Gurgaon.

No extra barricades or police presence was seen on the route. A lone traffic constable directed the traffic on the RTR Flyover.

Contrary to police claim that "the place where the incident occurred is well-lit", the slip road next to NH-8 was dark. The streetlights on the 1-km stretch were not working. Signs of a string of hotels in Mahipalpur flashed in the distance.

Newsline stopped to talk to a group of around 20 people, waiting for a bus barely a kilometre from where the two were dumped. All said they were not in the area on Sunday night.

Akanksha Suyal, who works at the Delhi airport, said: "The (street) lights haven't worked for the one year that I have frequented this stretch, and today is no different. After hearing of yesterday's incident, I was apprehensive of waiting for a bus in Mahipalpur. But there is no other (public transport) option, apart from these buses."

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