The media called him the ‘forgotten rapist’ who stole 42 years of a woman’s life by sexually molesting her and rendering her a cripple when she was in her prime. Aruna Shanbaug’s tormentor, Sohanlal Valmiki (also spelt as Walmiki), is currently one of the most hated men in the country. The ward boy who assaulted the nurse at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai on 27 November, 1973 is now hounded by media and memories.
Here are a couple of facts that you may have missed about the man:
#1. Convicted for Assault and Not Rape
Valmiki was not convicted for rape. Yes, he was charged with assault and robbery and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.
#2. Crime Committed in a Fit of Rage
According to Valmiki, he choked Aruna ‘didiji’ with a dog chain in a fit of rage for being repeatedly pulled up for his misdemeanors. He was reportedly scared of dogs and despite that Aruna used to tell him to feed dogs and sweep their cages.
#3. Disappearance From Public Eye
There was complete anonymity about Valmiki’s whereabouts after he was released from the Yerawada jail in Pune. He literally vanished in the nick of time. While some said he took up a job in a Delhi hospital, others said that he died of tuberculosis. Others were of the opinion that he contracted AIDS.
#4. Rediscovery of the ‘Rapist Who Never Was’
Days after Aruna’s death, he was traced in Parpa village in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh. In reality, Valmiki lived in his ancestral home in Dadupur all these years before moving to his father-in-law’s house in Parpa in the late 1980s.
#5. Breadwinner and a Family Man
He got a job as a labourer and cleaner at a thermal power station (NTPC) 25 kilometres from the village. When he was rediscovered, it appeared that he was still in his job and earned a daily wage of Rs. 261. He lives with his wife and two sons, a daughter and three grandchildren.
#6. A Man “Tired of the Memories”
The man didn’t have an easy run in his life. His first daughter passed away while he was in prison and according to him, she died because he has “made a mistake”. He reportedly gave up non-vegetarian food, smoking and drinking. He went on record to admit that incident left such a poignant impact on him that he could barely sleep for the first 10 years. Media quoted him saying, “I am tired of the memories, I want to die now”.
#7. Thrown Out of the Job
After the news of Valmiki’s role in Aruna Shanbaug’s 42 years of struggle started doing rounds, he was asked to leave the job. His contractor at the NTPC plant told him to quit the very day mediapersons came to interview him. The man has already left the village to stay in Madhya Pradesh.
#8 More Charges Likely on Cards
There have been talks about Mumbai police seeking a legal opinion on slapping murder charges against Sohanlal Valmiki. They have reportedly sought advice on whether they can register or invoke the IPC 302 on him.