For over four decades Sohanlal Bharta Valmiki, who brutally attacked nurse Aruna Shanbaug in Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital in 1973, lived in a village in Uttar Pradesh in relative anonymity, having served a seven-year sentence after being found guilty of robbery and attempted murder. But his trial isn't over yet.
With renewed media spotlight on the case after Shanbaug's death last month, he faces the threat of being kicked out of his village depending on what a village council decides this week. Shanbaug was left in a vegetative state for the rest of her life after the horrific attack.
Influential members of his village have decided to convene a panchayat in Parpa, where Valmiki has been living for the past three decades, to decide if he should be ousted out of the community.
"I was born in Parpa and have known Sohanlal for many years," said Joginder Singh, the village headman, to The Times of India. "We came to know of his history only through media reports. Parpa has always been a peaceful place. Because of him, it has made headlines for the wrong reasons."
The villagers are angry, Singh said, as they came to know of Valmiki's past only after a journalist traced him to his village. The Rajput-dominated village of 6,000 people were unhappy with the revelation, according to Singh.
Valmiki may have already gone into hiding, according to reports.
Never Found Guilty Of Rape
The 70-year-old daily wage labourer was never formally accused of rape or sodomy, and has steadfastly denied he ever sexually assaulted Shanbaug. Valmiki told journalists that he does not remember details of the fateful day but claimed someone else had raped her.
At the time of the incident, the now-banned "two-finger test" was conducted on Shanbaug, according to which her hymen was found intact, leading to rape charges not being framed. No charges of sodomy were pressed either, which is believed to be an attempt to protect her dignity.
Though court in its judgment noted that Valmiki had intention to rape her, he was only accused of attempt to murder and robbery, and sent to jail for seven years. One of his daughters reportedly died while he was in prison.
He returned in 1980 to his native village in Bulandshahr and later moved to Parpa, where he presently lives with his wife, four children and grandchildren.
"My father-in-law was held guilty," said his daughter-in-law to TOI. "He was punished [Sohanlal was jailed for seven years and released in 1980 but he wasn't charged with sexual assault]. He has been leading a peaceful life since. Now, the media is sensationalising the issue and trying to put my father-in-law behind bars."