Two of the CCTV killers are adult, three are juvenile. At 19, the victim was an adult. All of them lived within two kilometres of each other. They lived unremarkable lives. Till Tuesday afternoon, around 3pm, when the five of them stabbed to death the 19-year-old in a market in a south Delhi colony market in broad daylight. The crime was caught on CCTV.
The police said on Wednesday that all the killers were minors. An overnight check, however, exposed two 'adults', named Shahrukh and Karthik, both 20. The other three are minors, investigating officer Yashwant Singh of Ambedkar Nagar police station said on Thursday. Two are 16 and one is aged 17, DCP (south-west) P Karunakaran confirmed.
The minors may go scot-free after three years in a juvenile remand home, like the minor who was accused in the December 16 gang-rape, the police said, despite and in spite of the Union cabinet approving amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act which after passage in Parliament will enable prosecution of criminals aged 16-18 as adults.
Human rights activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover, who is against amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act, told dna that despite this latest act of gruesome crime by juveniles, she was still against reducing the age of a 'juvenile" from 18 to 16. "I've said enough on the issue. I don't think sending a 15/16 year old to jail is right. I'll keep speaking against it," she said.
The CCTV footage shows the victim on a motorbike with a pillion rider. The killers come running from the opposite direction. They block the motorbike. The pillion rider gets off, turns and runs. The victim is pulled off the motorbike and attacked. The unblinking eye of the CCTV camera records the rise and fall of knives. Thanks to the CCTV, they are caught within an hour.
The police said on Thursday the victim, Sachin, and the killers are no strangers. They knew each other well. Sachin was stabbed 15 times as people stood and watched... Not a single man or woman came to his rescue. It was straight out of a Bollywood movie. People in the market know all of them but nobody is talking, not yet.
The killers told the police the victim was a 'bully'. They said he extorted money from them. At times when the mood struck him, he would also sodomize them, they alleged. In short, according to the killers, the victim got what was coming to him. The victim's family refutes these allegations.
The police said two of the killers did odd jobs in the market, like collecting garbage and cleaning streets. Three others were slackers. The fathers of two of the ruffians sell odds and ends in the market. Sachin's father deals in scrap metal, said a constable.
"They are all school dropouts, with nothing gainful to occupy themselves. Such people are like vermin on our streets. They were all one gang. May be they fell out with the victim," said a police officer. "He could have been saved, if only the men and women who watched him get stabbed had called the police in time or ganged up against the assailants."
The killing in broad daylight has exposed the lack of policing in the capital. Beat constables are a thing of the past. Nowadays, policemen allotted a beat is usually seen gossiping at hangouts like teashops.
Evening comes and the occasional police car passes by, or idles at street corners.
According to the national crime records bureau (NCRB), a quarter of all juvenile criminals in Delhi are repeat offenders. But none of the ruffians or the victim in this instance has a criminal record.