It was a regular morning for the Singh family on March 8, 2011. Rajinder and his wife Mamta were having tea while their daughters Radhika and Rajni had left for their classes.
Around 11 am, they received a call that would change the course of their lives — Radhika had been shot.
“You don’t forget such things. The caller asked me about Radhika. I told them she studies at Ram Lal Anand College, and must be there. The man then told me that she has been shot near Satya Niketan market and was lying on the foot-overbridge. I got scared and, with my sons Vipin and Manoj, left for the spot. But we received a call and were asked to go to Safdarjung Hospital. My heart skipped a beat. When I saw my daughter lying dead, I couldn’t speak a word.” said Rajinder.
Nearly 11 years after the incident, the family said they are still trying to move on, but with great difficulty. Radhika Tanwar, the second-year DU student who lived with her family in Naraina Village, was shot dead on March 8, 2011 by her stalker Vijay Saini. On Tuesday, the High Court upheld the life sentence and conviction awarded to Saini by a lower court.
For her family, Radhika was a sweet and ambitious girl. She wanted to become an advocate and also open an NGO, said her mother Mamta. Her family said they knew about Saini, but he had left his house sometime back. Mamta said Radhika never complained to the police about him.
Initially, neither the family nor the police had an idea about Saini’s involvement and motive. It was a blind case, said police.
A week after the incident, the Delhi Police declared they arrested Saini from Mumbai.
“We are not in touch with the police and lawyers. It is traumatic to relive the experience. She was a student and did nothing wrong. I had heard Saini was awarded life imprisonment and he challenged the order. We hope he stays there. Rajni is now a teacher and my sons are doing well. We are happy that our children are doing good now. We were all stressed at that time. People were coming to meet us every day. We didn’t know what to do…,” said Rajinder, who is engaged in the property business.
At their residence, Radhika’s grandmother, Sheila Devi, and her cousins spoke about how “chirpy” she was. Everyone in the family called her ‘Battu’.
Sheila said, “It’s been so long and it’s hard to remember but she was beautiful and talented. We were all shattered. Everyone loved her in the family. We don’t watch the news about her case…”
Meanwhile, one of the investigating officers said they worked day and night to catch the accused, and successfully did it with evidence.
“Saini stalked the woman but this was not a regular thing. He had shifted houses, and didn’t call or message her. It was a blind case for us. In 2011, we conducted raids at many places and were finally able to find a few daily wage workers in Naraina who led us to him. There were no witnesses as well. We had Radhika’s phone but that didn’t help much. Within six days, we zeroed in on Saini and caught him from a slum in Mumbai. He was holding an old grudge against the woman for rejecting his advances,” said the investigating officer who did not wish to be named.