The 2012 Delhi gangrape case is being used to fulfill political agenda, said Asha Devi, the mother of the victim in the case. Her comments came after the Bharatiya Janata Party and Aam Aadmi Party engaged in a blame game for the delay in executing the four convicts in the case.

“Those who attacked my daughter are being given a thousand options, but we have no rights?” Asha Devi told ANI. “Till now, I never talked about politics, but now I want to say that those people who held protests on streets in 2012, today the same people are only playing with my daughter’s death for political gains.”

On Thursday, she asked why she should be the one to suffer due to the “negligence” of Tihar Jail officials and the government. She said that the date of execution should not be postponed. “There are several loopholes and escape routes for the convicts’ benefit, but for somebody like me – who had to do the rounds of the courts for so many years after witnessing the death of my only daughter – there seems to be no respite at all,” she said.

Convicts Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged inside Tihar Jail in Delhi on January 22, but the Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that they cannot be executed that day due to the mercy plea filed by Mukesh Singh.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday blamed the Delhi government’s “negligence” for delaying the execution. He claimed it took over two-and-half years for the AAP administration to send notices to the accused after the Supreme Court rejected their appeal against the death sentence in 2017.

AAP leader and Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia criticised the BJP and reminded the Union minister that law and order came under the Centre’s purview. He noted that even the Tihar Jail administration was under the Centre. The party’s leader Sanjay Singh accused the the saffron party of lying to mislead the people.

However, on Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed Asha Devi was being misguided, and accused Javadekar of politicising the matter, PTI reported. “We sent the mercy petition within hours, so the Delhi government has no role in delaying the hanging of the convicts,” he said.

Kejriwal said his government wants all four convicts to be hanged at the earliest. “I think she is being misguided. The Delhi government barely has any role in the whole process,” he added.

The court of Sessions Judge Satish Arora on Thursday heard a plea, filed by Singh’s lawyer Vrinda Grover, that sought a stay on the execution date of January 22 set by the court. The court in turn asked Tihar officials to inform the court about the procedure followed under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2019.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had dismissed the curative petitions of two of the convicts – Vinay Sharma and Singh. Hours later, Singh filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind – the last recourse available. Earlier on Friday, Kovind rejected the mercy petition of convict Mukesh Singh after the Home ministry’s recommendation. On Wednesday, the Delhi government had recommended that the mercy petition be rejected.

The case

Six men raped and brutally assaulted the 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. She succumbed to injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The gangrape had triggered huge protests in the national Capital and across India.

One of the convicts died in prison, while a minor was sent to a detention home for juveniles. He was released in December 2015. The four others were awarded the death penalty by a trial court in September 2013. The ruling was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later and the Supreme Court in May 2017.

Three of the four – Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta – filed review petitions against the punishment, but the Supreme Court rejected them in July 2018. The fourth, Akshay Kumar Singh, filed a review plea last month, and that too was rejected.