'What about Asaram, Tejpal, other rapes? Have the accused hanged?'
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In Badaun, western Uttar Pradesh, the mother of the gangrape convict who had been a juvenile at the time of the crime lies bedridden, diagnosed with suspected tuberculosis, barely able to talk. Two of her children, aged eight and six, are away at the local government school, the same one where the convict had once been enrolled. Villagers admit that the free midday meal provided at the school is the main draw. Apart from the taint of the gangrape they carry, the family that lives in that hut with a torn plastic sheet for roof is also known to be the village's poorest.
The convict's father is mentally ill, and the earnings of two of his sisters, 12 and 14, who work as labourers in the village, sustain the rest of his family. The mother says she hasn't met her son since he was convicted, and is waiting for him to return home after completing his three-year sentence, at a shelter home in North Delhi. "I cannot stand up. Nor do I have the money to go to Delhi. If the officials are saying I met him, they are lying. Do we look like we can meet the expense?" she asks.
At R K Puram's Ravi Dass camp, where four of the other gangrape convicts lived, life has gone back to what it was before the notoriety of a year ago brought the entire world to their doorsteps. Some months ago, the residents of the slum collected money and got their houses painted, changing the colour of the walls. The families of the convicts no longer live here.
Ram Singh's two-room house has been taken over by his relatives. He and his brother were both convicted of the rape. Earlier this year, Ram Singh died in prison, apparently of a suicide. Neighbourhood children talk of Ram Singh's "ghost" haunting the house, as the others laugh this off. Singh's distant cousin Madhav, who now lives in the house with his wife, refuses to talk about the case. Wife Seema says we should come later as Madhav is drunk.