Awnindra Pratap Pandey: 'I can't enjoy movies anymore'



New Delhi, June 23 -- The outrage that followed the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus on December 16 last year may have subsided, but not for everyone. For Awnindra Pratap Pandey, who accompanied her that night after catching a movie together, it is something that will never fade away from his memory.

Pandey, 28, who on Friday attended a promotional event for a movie themed around women's empowerment - Tara, says the impact of the incident on his life is irreversible. "It is something that will be there with me till the time I breathe. She was my friend, and even if she wasn't, it would have been equally unfortunate. After the incident, I have been to places, gone for movies with friends, but I've never been mentally present anywhere fully."

Out of the six accused in the case, one was found dead in Tihar Jail, the juvenile is facing proceedings before a Juvenile Justice Board, and the four others were put up for trial in the fast track court. Asked if he is satisfied with the proceedings, Pandey says, "It's very painful for me to see that the perpetrators are still alive. What we do today, sets the foundation for tomorrow. And since justice in this case is still awaited, we're allowing more heinous crimes like these to take place." He is, though, relieved that his friend's family is coping better now. "We're not in contact, like I was, earlier. But I got to know that they're better and gradually getting back to their normal routine."

The software engineer feels that the mass movement that broke out after the tragedy was an important lesson. "Youth symbolises uncontrolled energy, which we witnessed at the protests. The movement crumbled because this energy wasn't channelised in the right direction. That was an example to learn from," he says, and hopes that his presence at movie promotions and other such events will make a difference. "Movies do create an impact on the audience. Earlier, women were portrayed as homemakers but now it's completely different. A woman can stand on her own. If I am able to contribute in any way to bring a change in the society, then I'll be there."