"We kept our child away from us for four years because he was named in a heinous crime. He told us he had realised his mistake and would change. We thought that was the end of our suffering, but destiny had other plans," say the parents of Akash Jadhav, the juvenile accused in the 2013 gang-rape case, who has once again been arrested for assault and extortion.

Shridhar and Mangal Jadhav, parents of Akash Jadhav, say they are being made to pay for his sins. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Shridhar and Mangal Jadhav, parents of Akash Jadhav, say they are being made to pay for his sins. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

The 2013 gang rape at Shakti Mills had shocked the entire city, including Akash's parents, Shridhar and Mangal Jadhav. They could not believe it when they learnt that their son Akash - not even 18 at the time - was one of the culprits. But they knew he had done wrong and that he would have to face the punishment.

Mangal and Shridhar Jadhav, parents of Akash Jadhav, show the sketches and poems he crafted in school. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Mangal and Shridhar Jadhav, parents of Akash Jadhav, show the sketches and poems he crafted in school. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

"I told him he had committed a mistake and he must face the law. Every month, I went to visit him at the borstal school in Nashik. He saw us suffering, and decided to give up all this. He started studying and enrolled in various vocational training courses. It was like a rebirth for Akash; he wanted to study, work reduce our daily suffering," recalled his mother.

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The police escort Akash Jadhav to Bhoiwada court. Pic/Atul Kamble
The police escort Akash Jadhav to Bhoiwada court. Pic/Atul Kamble

He was getting better
In the youth detention centre, Akash began writing poems and drawing sketches. He passed with first class grades in Std X, as well as in vocational courses for wiring and AC and fridge repairs. "He was getting better and better. In fact, when he returned home this July, he immediately started looking for a job. But society didn't let him get away from the Shakti Mill rapist tag," said Mangal.

Also Read: Family members of Shakti Mills juvenile rapist want him to start afresh

Akash's elder sister added, "The day he returned, he cried like baby in our arms. He kept telling us, 'I will never stray from the right path again. I will protect the family's respect'. We thought we could finally go back to being a family again."

Return to crime
But the darker side in Akash rose again. On September 23, Akash was arrested again for assault and extortion. Mangal remembers how it happened clearly. "I was returning from Mahalaxmi with Akash after buying ration. In the train, he was continuously getting calls, and he said his friends were calling him. He came home, dropped the ration bags and left. I didn't object, and I think that was my biggest mistake," she sobbed.

After the victims filed a case against him, Akash and his friends attacked them again, this time with a chopper. Another case was registered for attempt to murder, and Akash was nabbed.

"Whenever he called, we told him to surrender. He cried, saying he won't be spared by the police this time. He told me that the altercation had started after someone called him a rapist. I had no answer; I only told him to surrender. If he is involved in this attack, he must go to jail," Mangal added.

'We are all ruined'
But the Jadhav family is facing far more than the loss of their son again. Akash's sister said, "My brother completed his sentence and his name and picture was never revealed to anyone. But now everyone calls us the sister or mother or father of a rapist. Is it our fault that he committed this crime?"

Akash's father added, "The landlord has told us to vacate our room. Three prospective grooms rejected my daughter when someone told them about our son. We don't know what will happen to Akash, but what about us? Should we live our entire life and die with this shame?"

Akash's sister questioned what chance he will have of reformation if he is sent to prison with hardened criminals, but Akash's parents are not interested in bailing him out. "Our family barely makes do on R20,000 a month, we can't afford legal battles. We want him to stay behind bars and watch us suffer because of his deeds. He must feel the pain too," said his father, Shridhar.

Problem child
The family of five has led a hand-to-mouth existence for years, even with both parents working as medical carers. "We didn't got much time to look after our kids. But our elder son and daughter did well. Akash was not like that. He dropped out from one school, bunked classes in the next one. This went on till Std VIII. Then one day the cops came to our home and told us about the rape case," said Akash's father, Shridhar Jadhav.