NEW DELHI—She called him “a perfect man.” He still keeps her number stored in his cellphone, under the name Jewi, derived from a Sanskrit word meaning life.
“She was the closest person to my heart,” says the young man. Soon he is expected to tell a judge about the night she was raped aboard a private bus here, an attack that left his friend dead and the world horrified.
“I find myself surrounded by the pictures in my mind of the incident of that night in the bus,” says the 28-year-old information-technology specialist, who was himself badly injured in the Dec. 16 attack. Broad-chested and plain-spoken, he now walks with a cane.
Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, he gave new details of the assault and described his close and complex relationship with his friend, a petite recent college graduate who was 23 at the time of her death. Both her name and his are being withheld due to Indian law governing the identification of the woman as a rape victim.
The case has stirred widespread protest and calls for justice. Five men face charges including rape, kidnapping and murder. Lawyers for the five say they are innocent. A sixth person accused, a juvenile, faces proceedings in juvenile court. A lawyer representing him couldn’t be reached.
In many ways, the young man and his friend were a modern dating couple, yet still bound by caste and tradition. Living away from home, the two were making their way in India’s widening professional class—she was a physiotherapist looking for her first job, he leads a team specializing in Internet voice technology for corporations.
They shared their problems, took vacations together and consulted each other even over the purchase of a pair of…