The alleged leader of the brutal and widely-publicized Delhi gang rape that killed 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey was found dead in in his cell on Monday morning, but his family isn't buying the official story. Ram Singh, who drove the bus on which Pandey was attacked, appeared to hang himself with his own clothes, even though he was already on suicide watch. If that were true, Singh would have had to evade the guards assigned to him and hang himself in front of this two cellmates. Those suspicious circumstances have led his family to question the report and call for an investigation, which the Delhi government will conduct.
According to reports in The Times of India and elsewhere, Singh's father believes that either guards or other inmates might have a hand in his death. "Singh's father, Mangelal Singh, told Sky News his son had been raped in prison by other inmates and had been repeatedly threatened by inmates and guards. He said his son gave no hint of any despair that could drive him to take his own life when he visited him in jail four days ago," reported Sky News.
Despite his father's account, Singh and the four other adult men (one of the accused is being tried as a minor) were placed under suicide watch this past January, CNN-IBN Live reports. According to that report, being placed under suicide watch doesn't necessarily mean that Singh was placed under solitary confinement, nor does it mean Singh was being constantly observed. However, CNN-IBN's sources say that he shared his cell with two other inmates, and there were no CCTV cameras outside Singh's cell, meaning the other two inmates might be the only witnesses to his suicide.
Outside of his family and loved ones, Singh's death isn't exactly being met with much sorrow. Singh was the alleged ringleader of the brutal gang rape of Pandey that eventually led to her death in December—a story which spurred massive protests across the country. Pandey's father, along with the prosecution, have been seeking the death penalty for Singh and the five other suspects. "Ram Singh should have faced the gallows. He should have been hanged publicly... Ram Singh was aware that there was strong evidence against him and that he could get the death penalty. The case is going on on a daily basis, and by April we will know the verdict," Pandey's brother told the Indo-Asian News Service.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.