Bijal joshi rape case : convicts gets life – interview

My hearts goes out for this brave family hats-off to dem……..

I just knew they had to be punished,” says Vaishali Joshi, a day after a Sessions Court sentenced the five accused in her sister Bijal Joshi’s gang rape case to life imprisonment. One of the accused Sajal Jain, was her boyfriend. Ahmedabad-based Bijal Joshi was gang raped on the new year’s eve of 2003. She committed suicide a week later. It has been a five-year long battle for justice for her sister Vaishali and her family; Bijal’s smiling photographs that rest atop the television set in the Joshi living room a quite reminder of the life she may have had.

Vaishali’s fight for justice mirrors the strength of women like Neelam Katara who fought a powerful Delhi politician to prove his son’s involvement in her son’s murder and even Sabrina Lall, who left no stone unturned when it came to getting justice for her sister’s murder by an influential politician’s son.

A day after the Sessions Court Judge Jyotsana Yagnik awarded life imprisonment to Sajal Jain, Sugam Jaiswal, Ashok (Mandan) Jaiswal, Chandan Jaiswal and Karan Jain, Vaishali took time out to pour her heart out.

It has been a sad, long wait, albeit a fruitful one…

It’s been well worth it. I have often lost my cool when people maligned my sister and me and even accused us of taking money. But I did what I felt. Jo bhi qurbani di hain uska ab sukoon ho raha hain.

And did you always have faith that justice would come by?

I trusted myself. I did get support, but I knew ultimately it all hinged on me. Mein bas peechhe pad gayi thi…if the accused got bail, I’d reach court, would meet the lawyers and keep track. I followed them like a shadow. I am particularly angry with Sajal Jain and Sugam Jaiswal. Sajal not only ditched my sister, he also got his friends to rape her. Sugam not only raped Bijal, but also stripped her in the car when he called me to take her home. To think that this man has two sisters!

When I saw my sister with him in that state, I clawed at him with all the strength I had and beat him black and blue with my stilettos.

What do you think was the defining moment for you?

You know, I often wonder why December 31 ever happened in our lives. I curse the moment when I dropped my sister that evening at the hotel. Bijal was an emotional person who trusted Sajal blindly. I always knew something was wrong and that he wasn’t a good man.

Thereafter everything went wrong… we were labelled “poor, greedy, people of loose character” by their defence lawyer, J M Panchal. In a way I am glad Bijal wasn’t here to see this; she would have killed herself anyway with all the mudslinging. I still can’t digest the fact that Dr Yogesh Jadhav refused to provide an injury certificate despite seeing the injury marks and cigarette burns on her body.

Did the fight for justice help you deal with the trauma of losing your sister?

Yes, there was no time to grieve. So much happened in such a short time – rape, suicide, then my father’s death. I just got no time to weep. I couldn’t look after my son or even help my mom in running the house. I was just focused on getting my sister’s rapists punished.

Vaishali Joshi (centre) with her mother Hemanginiben and brother Bhavin

What kept you going?

I have seen a lot in my life. I got married at 17, became a mom at 18 and got divorced at 19. I went through an ugly divorce and saw how people reacted. I don’t attend social functions and dislike the hypocrisy of people around. I guess the love for my family and the desire to secure justice kept me going.

The odds were stacked against you…

Oh, surely they were. People said filthy things. Sajal Jain’s father accused my father of being a bootlegger, my brother of being a drunkard. From January 1 to 7, 2003, we all lived in fear. We would dial 100 before going to sleep. The idea was that we would quickly be able to re-dial if something went wrong. People watch all this in the movies; I have faced more in real life.

Did you at any point want to give up?

No, never. They threatened to kill my son, brother and father. My mom would cry, but she never asked me to give up. She would say we’d fight together, live together, and if need be, die together. I did feel suicidal on a couple of occasions, but deep down I didn’t want to die a loser.

Who was your biggest strength and support system?

My family.

Did people move away…did friendships turn sour?

After Bijal was raped, people’s attitude towards us changed. They taunted our ‘free lifestyle’. People would leave when police would visit us. I am glad I got to see the true colours of people – friends and relatives. It was only our lawyer Milan Bhatt who stood by us.And then, your father passed away.

My faith in God grew multifold after Bijal’s death through my strength to fight. But my father who would regularly visit Ambaji and prayed religiously went away an unhappy man. Since his death five months ago, I only recognise my parents as my God.

Did your personal life take a backseat?

Yes, I forgot to lead my life as ‘my’ life. Life only meant fighting the case. My son was looked after by Bijal earlier, and then, by my parents.

A lot of people had opinions on how Bijal should have conducted herself, that she shouldn’t have gone out with an all-male group on the 31st night.

I too wish she hadn’t. That day connotes a lot for us in different ways. It’s best left to be celebrated outside this country.

What has been your biggest lesson?

I have learnt that it is important to stand up for yourself. I have also understood karmas impact our lives; I must have done some wrong in my previous life. It is important to be good so that one doesn’t have to suffer in another life.

Gujarat is considered a safe state for women… do you still believe that?

I guess I would. My sister’s was an unfortunate case. Because it is Gujarat, I could go and pick her up at 4 am when Sajal sent her back with Sugam.

The offenders tried to break you in many ways…

Oh yes…they offered money, issued threats…they did everything they could.

We all watch crime on TV and films and tell ourselves that ‘these things happen to other people’.

You know what, I would watch crime news all along but never think a second about it. It’s only after Bijal’s death that I began to think and understand deeply the nitty-gritty of these events. My father’s favourite film was Damini; he admired the way the woman protagonist fought for truth. I tried doing that and more for my sister.

What you think was the most endearing thing about Bijal?

The ability to forgive. Uski fidrat mein hi nahi tha dil mein kuch rakhna. It’s like this: I would amputate an arm that spreads poison, she would tend to it!

Coping with ugly rumours about Bijal must have been extremely tough…

People said so much I stopped heeding. What people forget is that what happened to Bijal could happen to anyone.

We would dial 100 before going to sleep. The idea was that we would quickly be able to re-dial if something went wrong

We would dial 100 before going to sleep. The idea was that we would quickly be able to re-dial if something went wrong


2 thoughts on “Bijal joshi rape case : convicts gets life – interview

  1. My deep condolenses goes for Bijal straight from heart. I wish she had been there today. Can’t imagine those guys were wild animals in human form. Even life imprisonment is less, they should get 200 years of tortured prison. They sould be tortured and hanged or thrown multiple times from some high building

  2. bijal di is very good nice pleasant well behaved sympathetic human being who used to love people and always tried to help each and every human beings may god rest her soul and may vaishali di again lead their normal lives and i wish that court must give a non bailable warrant to slut and kamina sajal jain who is the main rapist and moreover i will be happy if sajal jain is hanged till death

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