WHEN a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped and murdered in December 2012, millions across India reacted with horror and anger. The government introduced new laws and the alleged attackers were brought before a fast-track court.
Now activists have condemned Indian authorities for “honouring” the murdered woman by producing a handgun named after her.
The Indian Ordnance Factory (IOF) in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, part of the Ministry of Defence, is taking orders for a R122,360 (£1,203) titanium-alloy handgun designed for women. The model is named Nirbheek, or “bold”. The Indian media used the nickname Nirbhaya to refer to the murdered student, who could not legally be identified.
No one was available for comment on Friday at the IOF but reports said that the plant had already received 20 orders for the .32 calibre six-shot revolver. “At least 80 per cent of the bookings are from women,” Abdul Hameed, the general manager, told The Times of India.
He said that once a local court permits more gun licences – the Allahabad High Court has currently suspended the issuing of new licences – there would be more sales. “Expectedly, the weapon has received a very good response. More bookings are sure to follow,” he said.
Described by arms experts as an Indian hybrid of a Webley & Scott and Smith & Wesson for its simple mechanism and light frame, it is the smallest revolver made in India.
One senior Indian police officer said: “Once a target of rape whips out a handgun, the element of surprise is sure to scare the life out of most of the persons who attempt rape. In most criminal cases in India, the perpetrator, irrespective of whether armed or not, neither expects nor faces any stiff resistance from the target.”
Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, called the gun “an abhorrence to [the Delhi student’s] memory”.
She added: “Our work over the past 10 years has shown that if a woman involved in an incident has a gun on her person she is 12 times more likely to be killed.”