Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Nitish Katara case - justice done

It's been some time now since this case has been in court. Imagine the case where a couple is in love, being of the age when people usually fall in love. Now think about the case where the girl is from a prominent family, politically connected, and very very arrogant in their power. They have access to brute force, along with political connections, and in the past, have shown that they are very much capable of committing violence and not being the least bit concerned that there is such a thing such as law, order and justice. Further, the brother of the girl is a known bad element, with all the arrogance of power as comes from living in a setup where the exercise of power has been the case all through.
If some of you would have seen an Abhishek Bachchan movie called 'Run', it would have reminded you of the situation similar to this one; but in real life you cannot just fight your way through, and life is not a movie. This actually happened in real life, and finally led to the cutting short of a promising life on February 16, 2002 when Nitish Katara, the young man (24 at that time) was brutally killed by a hammer by Vikas Yadav (the brother) and Vishal Yadav (the cousin of the girl). They committed the murder, hid the evidence and burned the body.
In normal cases, given the police investigation conditions and the political power of the accused, the case would have ended. Except for the pressure mounted by a desperate mother who would go to any end in order to get the murderers of her son, a media that saw in these injustices (combined with the cases of Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo) as victimisation of the middle class by the connected, and a surge of interest in making sure that these cases do not go away. And now the end result is now visible:

NEW DELHI: The night before the verdict seemed longer than usual, though she had waited six long years for justice. The nervous wait was over in a matter of minutes, as the verdict was pronounced, taking a huge load off her shoulders. Neelam Katara stood vindicated on Wednesday, with the killers of her son Nitish finally proclaimed guilty.
Neelam lost her husband a year and a half after Nitish's death and her younger son Nitin was mostly out of town for studies and work. So for her, it was a lonely battle for justice, braving threats, financial constraints and occasional ill health. However, she laughs it off when called the "lone warrior". "I have had the support of family, friends and media all through. In fact, complete strangers have called me up and visited me, saying they were with me through all that was happening. I have never been alone," she smiles.

Of course, there is a long way to go. The case will wind its way to the High Court and the Supreme Court, with the good point being that the media will also be there to ensure that no injustice happens at these points. At the same time, this case also provides a lot of lost hope to people who may face similar crimes, but in the semi-urban or rural areas where such injustices can happen and there is no media or pressure to make sure that such cases get highlighted.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:25 AM