DEHRADUN: Memories of the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 flashed before the eyes of Dr Vipul Kandwal as the clock struck 3.30 am on the fateful Friday morning, the exact time Supreme Court rejected all four Nirbhaya convicts' plea.
"I am short of words. It will take some time to process and even believe that justice has been served, finally. Her fighting spirit is still here refusing to give up," says the gastroenterologist who along with the team in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital desperately tried to save Nirbhaya on the night he will never forget.
The four convicts were hanged till death exactly two hours later at 5.30 am. The convicts had moved a final plea to the apex court after Delhi high court rejected their plea at 12 am.
Dr Kandwal, the first doctor to tend to unspeakably, irreversibly wounded Nirbhaya more than 7 years ago is up, not being able to sleep monitoring the hearing on a satellite television channel whole night.
A close family friend recalling those times revealed that Dr Kandwal was not able to eat, sleep and follow the routine in a proper manner.
"The terrible crime committed to the young woman affected him to the core. His soul was torn apart. We have always known him as a jolly good, polite and hardworking person. But this incident changed him completely," said a close family friend.
The oncologist afterwards moved to work for a private hospital in Delhi. He moved to Dehradun where he worked as a surgeon in Government Doon Medical College and Hospital before starting his own hospital in the foothill town.
His employees and colleagues from the hospital know him as the one who never defers anything and have never seen him bogged down by his emotions.
"The whole hospital knows him as the first doctor who tended to Nirbhaya. We know that he diligently follows the case but he never talks about it. I guess it pains him not being able to save the woman. I hope hanging of the convicts will provide him much-needed closure," said an employee from the hospital.
Those who have known him said that he was disturbed as the case dragged on since January this year but never lost faith in the justice system.
In January, after a death warrant was issued for the four convicts, Dr Kandwal had said that it brought a sense of closure to him as he was haunted by the memories what was done to her.
He was in the panel of the doctors who tried everything to save her before she was moved to Singapore for further treatment where she succumbed to her injuries. The nation was outraged and the central government had to take steps to Pacific the situation including framing of a new law for sexual assault and allied crimes.