Sunday, June 8, 2008

Katara murder case: Vikas, Vishal get life term

Anasuya Roy

Friday, May 30, 2008 (New Delhi)
A Delhi court has sentenced Vikas and Vishal Yadav to life imprisonment in the Nitish Katara murder case and now they will spend the rest of their lives in jail.They have also been fined with Rs 1.6 lakh each.The cousins were found guilty of bludgeoning Nitish Katara to death and burning his body six years ago.The prosecution, in a packed courtroom, described it as an act of extreme depravity.But the judge said that this is not a rarest of rare cases and the Yadavs should not be given death.

Neelam Katara, Nitish's mother said, ''I respect the order of the court.''Nitish Katara was a 24-year-old executive in love with Bharti Yadav, daughter of DP Yadav.Vikas Yadav's father DP Yadav, a powerful UP politician, was also present in court with a large number of supporters.''We have faith in the judiciary but we will fight it,'' he said.It is one of Delhi's most controversial and closely watched cases and the trial took nearly six years to conclude.

The motive of the crime was Vikas Yadav's objection to Nitish Katara's relationship with his sister Bharti.In documents available to NDTV, in both her police statement and her e-mails, Bharti clearly blames her father and brother for kidnapping and killing Nitish.But she later backtracked and has since maintained that her brother is innocent, a statement she repeated even after arriving in Delhi on Thursday for the sentencing.

This may be the last day of the Nitish Katara case at the Patiala house court but both have made it clear the legal battle will continue and the mother who has fought for the last six years is clear she will not rest till she ensures justice for her son.

Twists and turns

Nitish's mother Neelam Katara has seen it all in her fight for justice. From identifying her son's charred remains to fighting for the case to be heard out of Ghaziabad courts for a fair trial. She also saw the witnesses turn hostile and lost her husband, who supported her in the fight for justice. She has sat through 400 sittings waiting to hear what she did on Tuesday- that Vikas and Vishal Yadav are guilty of murdering her son Nitish Katara.

''I found the body badly charred and the head had been struck with a hard object. There was a crack on the head and after that the body had been badly burnt. Everything was charred. God forbid that any parent ever have to see the child like that,'' said Neelam Katara, mother of Nitish Katara.And yet, that's exactly what Neelam Katara saw on a foggy February morning six years ago. Her older son was found dead in a sugarcane field near Ghaziabad. He had been attacked repeatedly with a hammer.His body had then been set on fire.The night before, he was at the wedding of a college friend. With him, as always, was Bharti Yadav. Bharti's brother Vikas and her cousin Vishal were also at the wedding. They allegedly left the party with Nitish that night in their SUV and killed him because they didn't approve of his romance with their sister. But when Nitish was found dead, the Yadav boys were already missing.

Their father, then a Rajya Sabha Samajwadi Party MP spoke in their defence.''We are being falsely implicated. There is an election coming, that is why people are trying to tarnish the family's name,'' said D P Yadav, father of accused. Vikas and Vishal Yadav were found and arrested four days after Nitish's death. In Madhya Pradesh, Vikas first confessed he got into a fight with Nitish at the wedding.

''I had a minor fight with someone, thats all. Someone told me later that the person was Nitish Katara. I had no idea till then,'' said Vikas Yadav, accused.A week later came this retraction. ''I have never heard that name. I have never seen him in my life. I just went to the wedding and came back,'' said Vikas.

Bharti's flip-flop

In documents available to NDTV, in both her police statement and her emails days after Nitish's death, Bharti clearly blames her father and brother for kidnapping and killing Nitish. But sitting next to her father, Bharti told the press that despite all the Valentine's Day cards, she had never dated Nitish.

Bharti was then sent to London to study. In the next four years, one witness after another turned hostile. Neelam Katara campaigned successfully to have the case transferred out of Ghaziabad on the grounds that D P Yadav was infliuencing proceedings. Two years ago, the case moved to Delhi and then began the battle to get Bharti back to Delhi to testify.The Yadavs refused to cooperate stating in court that they had no idea where their only daughter was. Finally the government cancelled her passport forcing her to testify in Delhi but she had nothing new to say.

In April last year, Neelam Katara succeeded in getting her son's case fast-tracked. In the last six years, she has quit her job, her husband has died but she followed a one-point agenda.