RIP Aruna Shanbaug, this world is your culprit…and is unlikely to repent

18 May 2015 | By Shruti Kohli | NEW DELHI

For four decades she lay there like a vegetable. Her perpetrator served a token time in jail and went on to live a normal life, had a family and so on. They didn’t allow mercy killing for Aruna as that’s considered inhuman, a crime.

aruna shanbaug

Aruna Shanbaug

So she ‘lived’, for 42 years, lying on the bed of the same hospital where she used to nurse ailing people back to life. She used to nurse people to life until the dreadful night when a ward boy tied a dog chain around her neck and chocked her while he raped her in the basement of Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital. This assault left her in a vegetative state. It was 1973. Aruna Shanbaug was 24 and about to marry a medic.



Aruna, as she was for the past 42 years after the sexual assault



As for her perpetrator, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, he served two concurrent seven-year sentences for assault and robbery but NONE for rape or sexual molestation or for ‘unnatural sexual offence’. The latter alone could have got him a ten-year sentence.


Journalist and human rights activist Pinki Virani tried tracking him down but she was informed that he had changed his name after he left the prison. However, Virani was told that he was working at a Delhi hospital, not exactly which hospital. Weirdly enough, neither the KEM Hospital nor the court had a photo of him. Clearly, Virani’s search for him failed.


This is how our system failed Aruna Shanbaug. This is how we failed Aruna Shanbaug.


This world gave you hell, Aruna. But as you leave it for heaven and forever, some hearts cry for you, and wish you find your peace up there. As for this world, it’s your culprit and is too full of itself to repent.

shruti kohli








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What to Do!

If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.

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