The woman, who had come to India’s capital from the northeastern state of Mizoram, was picked up at gunpoint on Delhi’s southern ring road at about 1 a.m. and assaulted in a moving vehicle before being thrown out in Mangolpuri, an industrial neighborhood in Delhi’s west, police said. The five men, Usman, Shamshad, Kamruddin, Shahid and Iqbal, who each use a single name denied the charges.
The verdict was delivered by Judge Virender Bhatt at a sessions court in Dwarka in southwest Delhi after hearing 58 prosecution witnesses and 10 defense witnesses during the course of the trial.
Amit Shrivastava, a lawyer for one of the five defendants said he may appeal to a higher court of law. “The final battle is yet to be fought,” Mr. Shrivastava said.
A hearing for sentencing in the case is set for Friday, Oct. 17. Satwinder Kaur, the prosecutor, said that she would seek life imprisonment for the men. Life is the maximum punishment and 10 years in prison the minimum that the men can expect because they were charged under a previous provision of the law.
Under the new legislation introduced in 2013, death is the maximum punishment in the “rarest of rare” cases of sexual violence. The law was amended in response to the death of a 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped and murdered in New Delhi in 2012. The men responsible for her rape and murder were put on death row and are currently appealing the sentence.
Following the incident in 2010, people from India’s northeast living in the capital took to the streets campaigning for better safety for hundreds of women who come from India’s northeastern states to big cities like Delhi for better education and employment opportunities.
Activists say that despite the efforts of the government to curb the discrimination against people from the northeast and the increased attempts to check violence against women in the city, northeastern women remain uncomfortable in the Indian capital. They are often victims of racial discrimination as well as crimes against women.
The results of a 2011 survey by a New Delhi-based helpline dedicated to people from the northeast, revealed that 78% of those interviewed said they faced racial discrimination. The helpline also recorded crimes against northeastern women, and molestation accounted for 34% of the crimes recorded.
India does not have an anti-racism law, a demand that was made earlier this year by a committee appointed by India’s federal ministry of home affairs to look into issues relating to security and determine the causes behind racism. The committee was set up after the death of Nido Taniam, a 20-year-old boy from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, who was fatally attacked by a group of men, an assault that police said was racially motivated.