Profiles: Delhi gang rapists

Delhi rapists

Six people, one of them a juvenile, were put on trial for the notorious December 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student on a bus in the Indian capital, Delhi.

All of them denied charges of rape, murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence - five were found guilty, while a sixth died in jail.

Here are brief profiles of the men.

Ram Singh

The man described as the main suspect, Ram Singh, was found dead in Tihar jail in March. Police said he had hanged himself, but defence lawyers and his family allege he was murdered.

A 33-year-old widower, he lived in a small two-room shanty in the Ravi Dass slum colony in southern Delhi.

He was the alleged driver of the bus on which the 23-year-old woman was raped and her male friend assaulted.

He is remembered by his neighbours for being a troublemaker who frequently got involved in drunken brawls.

Like many migrants, his family came to Delhi from their village in Rajasthan more than 20 years ago in search of a better life.

The third of five brothers, Ram Singh was enrolled into the neighbourhood government school but dropped out while still at primary level.

He was the first person to be arrested for the 16 December gang rape that shocked India.

A cousin who lives in the same district said he "was fond of music and would often play very loud music at home".

A neighbour said: "Ram Singh would often be found drunk and involved in brawls, though we never thought he could commit a crime as heinous as rape."

His father, Mangelal Singh, said Ram Singh would not have been able to orchestrate a suicide because he only had the effective use of one arm - he had damaged his right arm in a driving accident in 2009.

But some of his relatives say he was a strong man who, even after the accident, did not quit driving because a rod had been inserted into the damaged arm.

Mukesh Singh

Mukesh Singh

The younger brother of Ram Singh, Mukesh is in his early 20s.

He lived with his brother in a two-room shanty in the Ravi Dass slum and worked as an occasional driver and cleaner on the bus.

He was charged with raping as well as hitting the woman and her boyfriend with an iron rod - charges that he denied.

It was alleged that he - and not Ram Singh - was driving the bus when they picked up the couple.

In court, Mukesh Singh said that he was driving the bus and the other five raped the woman and assaulted the couple, reports say.

His lawyer claimed that his client had been abused and tortured in jail, charges denied by prison authorities.

He has been sentenced to death for the rape of the woman.

Vinay Sharma

Vinay Sharma

A 20-year-old gym assistant and fitness trainer, Vinay Sharma also lived in the Ravi Dass slum, not far from the house of Ram Singh.

Of the five convicted, he was the only one who had a school education and spoke English.

Earlier this summer, he sought a month's bail to sit his first-year university examination - a request turned down by the judge who ordered the university officials and jail authorities to make arrangements for him to sit his exams inside prison.

In court, Vinay Sharma claimed that he was not on the bus when the crime took place and that he had gone to a music function along with co-accused Pawan Gupta.

When he was sentenced to death in court, he broke down in tears.

Akshay Thakur

Akshay Thakur

A 28-year-old helper on the bus, Akshay Thakur is from the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

He was arrested in Bihar on 21 December - five days after the crime.

Along with rape, murder and kidnapping, he was convicted of trying to destroy evidence by helping to wash the bus after the attack.

A school dropout, he moved to Delhi last year.

According to reports, he is married and has a young son. The family lives in his village in Bihar.

In court, he denied being on the bus and said that he left Delhi on 15 December - a day before the crime - and reached his village in Bihar the next day.

But he was nevertheless convicted and handed the death sentence.

Pawan Gupta

Pawan Gupta

A 19-year-old fruit-seller, Pawan Gupta, claimed in court that he was not on the bus at the time of the crime and had gone to attend a music function with Vinay Sharma.

His father, Heera Lal, who appeared as a witness in the trial court, said his son was "innocent" and had been "falsely implicated".

He said his son had closed his shop in the afternoon on the day of the incident and left for home.

After consuming alcohol and eating chicken at home, he had gone to a nearby park to attend a music function.

Mr Lal said he went to the park along with his brother-in-law and took him home.

According to reports, in the days after his arrest he said in court that he had "done a horrible thing... I have done a bad thing and I should be hanged", but his lawyer later denied he had made the statement.

Along with the other three defendants being tried as adults, he was sentenced to death.

Convicted juvenile

The sixth defendant's name cannot be given for legal reasons. He was 17 at the time of the crime, so was tried as a minor. He has since turned 18.

On 31 August he was found guilty on charges of rape and murder and sentenced to three years in a reform facility, the maximum sentence available to a juvenile.

The eldest of six children, he left his village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh at the age of 11, and lived his formative years alone, doing menial jobs in Delhi.

His mother told the BBC that she last spoke to him just before he boarded the bus to the city.

She had thought him dead until police came knocking on her door in December 2012 and told her he was one of the accused in the gang rape case.

His family is among the poorest in the village. The father is mentally disabled and cannot take care of the children.

His mother says she sent him to work in Delhi in the hope that he would earn well and bring the family out of poverty.

He sent the family money for a few years and then disappeared, they say.

His mother insists he was a gentle boy.

"He was a very sensitive child and would be scared to confront anybody in the village. I'm sure he fell into bad company in Delhi and was led into committing this shameful act," she said.

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