‘Pollution is killing me anyway’: Indian rapist pleas for clemency from death penalty

Kate Ng
Activists burn an effigy representing the rapists involved in the 2012 attack on Delhi student 'Nirbhaya': AFP/Getty Images

One of four men convicted of the brutal gang rape and murder of a woman in 2012 has appealed for the Indian Supreme Court to review his death penalty, because his life is “short” due to pollution.

Akshay Singh Thakur is due to be hanged alongside three other men for gang-raping and beating 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, who succumbed to her injuries two weeks after the assault.

Six men were originally arrested but one was released from prison because he was a minor at the time the crime was committed, and the other died by suicide in prison, police said.

According to India Today, the review plea notes that Delhi’s air and water quality is akin to a “gas chamber” and “full of poison”.

“Life is short to short, then why death penalty [sic]?” it asks.

The prison where Thakur is being held is located in Mayapurim, an industrial area in West Delhi with a number of factories contributing to high pollution levels.

New Delhi has previously been ranked as the most polluted city in the world. In November, the level of smog in the city was more than 20 times what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers "safe."

Thakur’s appeal was argued against by Singh’s parents and the Delhi Police, who say a death warrant should be issued immediately.

The other three men sentenced to the death penalty also filed review petitions, but the Supreme Court rejected them all.

Legal expert Satish Maneshinde told CNN it was unlikely that Thakur's plea will be successful.

Singh’s mother, Asha Devi, told the broadcaster the wait for her daughter’s justice has been “torture”.

She said: “I cannot express how painful it is, in these seven years how much we have struggled, on a mental level the amount of torture that I have dealt with.

“We are sitting here with the hope that they will be hanged, but even after all that has happened they have not been punished.”

Singh, also known as Nirbhaya which means ‘fearless’ was raped repeatedly in turns by the men, who had picked her and a friend up on a private bus as they were returning home.

They knocked her friend unconscious and drove the bus around the city for about an hour while assaulting Singh.

Her case forced a conversation about the prevalence of violence against women in India and sparked protests across the country.

Read more

Train stations set alight as thousands protest Indian citizenship bill

Woman shot in face ‘because she stopped dancing’ at wedding in India

India rape victim dies after being burned alive by gang of men

'These people need to be lynched': Outrage grows over India gang rape

Living in Delhi’s smog is already hell and it is likely to get worse