College reveals that gang-rape victim had passed her final exam with top marks

Dean tells how model student inspired others as court hearing begins behind closed doors

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The Independent Online

As a closed court began hearing evidence against five men accused of the brutal gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student, her college revealed she had passed her final exam with flying colours.

The victim had been enrolled in a physiotherapy course at the Sai Institute of Paramedical and Allied Sciences in the town of Dehradun when she was attacked in Delhi in December. Officials at the college said they planned to return her course fees to her family.

“The 23-year-old girl was enrolled for the four-year physiotherapy course here in 2008 and she secured a first division with 73 per cent marks in her last exam,” Harish Arora, dean of the institute, told the Press Trust of India. “She got better marks than most of her classmates as the average is around 55 to 65 per cent.”

He said that in addition to returning the course fees to the student’s parents, the institute planned to establish an award in her memory. Mr Arora described the young woman as a positive student who made friends easily and had the ability to motivate her friends.

The latest, grim twist to the story of the young woman who was attacked as she and a male companion made their way home from the cinema came as five men were returned to a fast-track court in the south of Delhi as the case against them opened.

The five men, who could face the death penalty if they are convicted, covered their faces with woollen caps as they were escorted into the courtroom, surrounded by dozens of police.

Proceedings against the men lasted around two hours, at which point they were led out of the courtroom and returned to the city’s Tihar jail, according to the Associated Press.

The details of what transpired in court have not been made public. Despite appeals by members of the Indian media to a higher court, the judge in the fast-track court has prohibited the media and public from attending the proceedings. His action has been opposed by lawyers for the accused, who said the proceedings should be heard in an open court.

Further tightening the information flow, Judge Yogesh Khanna warned the lawyers they were not to brief the media following the day’s proceedings and refused a request from journalists that they receive a summary of what took place. The case has been adjourned until next Monday when the defence will present its opening arguments.

The young woman, originally from the state of Uttar Pradesh, was making her way home after watching the film Life of Pi. She and her friend boarded a private bus where they were allegedly attacked by six males, who gang-raped the woman and used iron bars to beat the couple. The couple were eventually stripped naked and thrown from the vehicle. The young woman died two weeks later in a hospital in Singapore.

The proceedings in the trial began a day after a government panel recommended that the authorities strictly enforce sexual assault laws, commit to holding fast-track rape trials and change the antiquated penal code to protect women.

A sixth male detained after the attacks has been judged to be a juvenile, and will be tried by a juvenile court.