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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Justice for Priyadarshini, Jessica and now Nitish

Mrs. Neelam Katara with her son Nitin at the Patiala Court on Wednesday.

New Delhi: The guilty verdict against Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav, the cousins accused of murdering young business executive Nitish Katara, is the third famous crime case involving powerful suspects and a spirited public campaign for justice.
A nationwide public campaign, backed up by continuous media focus, is believed to have led convictions in the Priyadarshini Matto and the Jessica Lal murder cases.
Lawyer Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a retired IPS officer, has been sentenced to death for raping and killing law student Priyadarshini in 1996.
Priyadarshini’s father Chaman Lal Mattoo, an elderly and ailing man, fought for six years before finally ensuring that her killer was punished.
The Delhi High Court, while convicting Singh in October 2006, severely criticized the lower court which acquitted him and the investigating authorities in the case.
Then in December 2006, Manu Sharma, son of former Haryana minister Venod Sharma, was found guilty of murdering model Jessica Lall.
Jessica was shot dead in the early hours of April 30, 1999, at a restaurant in Delhi when she refused to serve Sharma liquor.
A trial court had acquitted all the nine accused in the case but the case was reopened when police challenged the acquittal after a public outcry.
This case too was marked by a long-drawn trial, media focus and the Lall family’s refusal to drop their fight.
'Now no other son will meet Nitish's fate'
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: Neelam Katara, mother of the murder victim Nitish Katara, on Wednesday termed the trial court judgement convicting prime accused Vikas and his cousin Vishal Yadav in the case as a "milestone" and hoped that it would ensure that no other person would meet the fate of her son.
"This is a milestone case and I believe this (judgement) would ensure no other son of any mother would meet such a fate (as that of her son)," she said, in her reaction to the court's verdict.
"My faith in the judiciary have been vindicated and strengthened with the verdict. Now I am feeling a sense of relief and am grateful to God," she told reporters outside the courtroom in the Patiala House courts here.
The victim's younger brother Nitin Katara attributed the judgement to her mother's relentless fight for justice.
"I believe he (Nitish) died for love. He died for freedom of expression, he died for that school of our generation that we are allowed to make a choice and stand by it and that belief has been vindicated today by this decision."
On being asked why she stayed away from the trial for so long, he said my mother was the big force fighting for justice and I did not want to be a distraction for her. "My mother is my God," he said.
However, G K Bharti, counsel for Yadavs, said "it seems that the trial court has given this verdict under some pressures from some quarter."
On the contrary, Special Public Prosecutor B S Joon said that in view of the evidence, he had firm belief since the very beginning that it was accused who had committed the offence.
"In my mind, it was always there that Vikas and Vishal have committed the gruesome crime and they cannot evade the conviction for their act, and you all saw and heard it today what the court had delivered," he said, adding that justice has finally been delivered.

Katara Case : Verdict likely today

NEW DELHI: The trial court hearing the six-year-old Nitish Katara case is likely to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday, even though prime accused Vikas Yadav might be hoping that Delhi High Court will restrain the lower court from going ahead with the verdict. ( Watch ) Tuesday saw swift developments in the case, which has been marked by a flurry of applications being moved by defence lawyers representing Vikas, son of UP politician D P Yadav, and his cousin Vishal Yadav. Applications were filed at every stage of the hearing, even after court had wrapped up the trial. As additional sessions judge Ravinder Kaur dismissed Vikas' plea to recall key witness Ajay Katara for examination and informed both parties Kaur will give the verdict on Wednesday, his lawyers rushed to HC in appeal and sought a stay on pronouncement until Ajay is re-examined. However, HC will hear the application on Wednesday itself. Vikas' decision to move HC at this stage and press for Ajay Katara's summoning comes in the wake of a CD which surfaced last week, featuring an alleged sting operation conducted on Ajay, who was, according to the prosecution, a witness to "last seen evidence." Ajay had testified during the trial that, on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002, when Nitish was murdered, he saw him with Vikas and Vishal in a Tata Safari in Ghaziabad. The prosecution says this makes the chain of circumstantial evidence — on which the case is based — complete. The defence, on the other hand, has attacked Ajay as a witness planted by police and tried its best to discredit him. This only goes to highlight the importance of his evidence in court, which will have a bearing on the verdict on Wednesday. Kaur dismissed Vikas' plea on Tuesday and said she found "no justifiable reason to allow the present application, particularly when an application by the accused under Section 311 (court's power to summon witness) of the CrPC to the similar effect has already been disposed of on May 24." The court took serious note of the fresh application and added, "It is the duty of the court to see that neither the prosecution nor the defence is allowed to misuse the process of the court. Since the trial is already over and the judgment is to be pronounced, this is no stage to summon the witnesses, particularly (in view of the) disposal of an earlier similar application." Apart from Ajay, the other testimony which will decide the fate of the case is that of Vikas' sister Bharti Yadav, a central figure in the entire case and "an important witness" according to Delhi HC, which reversed the prosecution's decision to drop her as its witness in the course of the trial. Bharti's proximity to Nitish was disliked by her brothers who therefore murdered him, claimed the prosecution, while imputing motive to the crime. After repeated summons failed and court threatened to declare her a PO, Bharti — who left for UK within days of the murder— returned to India in 2006. It will be interesting to see how the trial court deals with her testimony. Although she admitted to being close to Nitish, she has given a clean chit to her brothers. While she stood by all documentary evidence tabled by the prosecution, for example, the Valentine's Day album, greeting cards, snaps and letters to Nitish, Bharti maintained her family were unaware of her friendship with Nitish. There was, therefore, no question of them disliking him and she had no plans to tie the knot with Nitish. Vikas, who has been convicted for his role in the Jessica Lal murder and is undergoing a prison sentence has been in jail since his arrest in this case and his several bail pleas have been rejected even by Supreme Court. Vishal has been on bail since 2005.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Katara murder: SC adjourns hearing on Vikas Yadav's plea

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday posted for October 29, hearing of a petition filed by Vikas Yadav, son of ex-MP D P Yadav and key accused in the Nitish Katara murder case seeking transfer of the trial to any court outside Delhi.

In his petition, Vikas Yadav while accusing the Delhi Government of showing extraordinary interest in the case, claimed that the trial court judge Ravinder Kaur had not given him proper opportunity to produce adequate evidence and cross-examine key witnesses.

Vikas Yadav claimed that the Delhi Government has appointed a Standing Counsel even though it was not a prosecuting agency.

The petitioner cited a letter purportedly written earlier by the Home Secretary to the Foreign Secretary for production of Bharti Yadav from the UK as a key prosecution witness in which the official reportedly made certain remarks prejudicial to the fair trial of the accused.

In the letter the Home Secretary reportedly remarked to the Foreign Secretary that it is their duty to ensure that justice is done and that the victim's family rightfully believes that the Government has not done enough.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Katara case: Final arguments to begin from October 6

The city court, trying the Nitish Katara murder case, will start hearing final arguments from October six, as it wrapped up the defence evidence on Thursday, in keeping with a deadline set by the Delhi High Court.

Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur on Thursday fixed four dates in October -- six, eight, nine and ten -- for hearing the arguments in the five-year-old trial and said the future dates would be given as the case proceeds.

Earlier in the day, the judge was apprised by the defence counsel of an application filed in the High Court seeking extension of the time frame but as the matter there was adjourned for Friday, the trial court decided to adhere to currently applicable deadline of September 20.

The High Court had recently directed Vikas Yadav, an accused and son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav, to conclude the recording of statements of his witnesses by September 20, saying no further opportunity would be provided after this date.

The examination of defence witnesses had started on July three and the accused produced a total of 24 witnesses.

Meanwhile, as against its claim of producing five witnesses, the defence could today manage to produce only one, a record-keeper from a Ghaziabad court.

The witness, Sunil Kumar Sharma, had brought certain documents pertaining to a criminal case against Ajay Katara, a key prosecution witness, filed by his wife Tanu Chowdhry.

He, however, accepted during the cross-examination that the police had twice submitted cancellation reports in the case after finding no incriminating material against Ajay.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Trial court seeks more time to conclude Nitish Katara case

New Delhi, July 03: The sessions court hearing the Nitish Katara murder case has approached the Delhi High Court seeking extention of the timeframe for completion of trial after it failed to meet the deadline of May 31.

The High Court on February one had instructed the trial court to complete the entire proceedings of the case within four months.

With recording of evidence of defence witnesses still at the initial stage, Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur filed an application before the high court seeking more time to conclude the trial of the case.

Justice B N Chaturvedi before whom the matter was listed, posted the hearing for July 26, the day the bail application of main accused Vikas Yaadav will be taken for adjudication. The High Court on February 1, while refusing to grant bail to Vikas, son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav, had observed that the trial was at fag end and "equities can be balanced by directing the trial court to dispose of the matter within a stipulated time frame".

Neelam Katara, the mother of the victim, said there has been delay in the recording of evidence after the deposition of key witness Bharti Yadav, as the proceedings have been adjourned regularly, primarily on the medical ground raised by some other witnesses including the elder sister of the accused.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chase scare for Ajay Katara

NEW DELHI: Ajay Katara, a key witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, was on Friday evening allegedly chased by some persons in two cars in Meerut's Kharkhoda police station area. Katara has filed a report of criminal intimidation against the car occupants, whom he claimed to have identified as Virendra Lor and Dinesh Gurjar of Bulandshahr district.

Katara claims former MP DP Yadav, whose son and nephew are the main accused in the Nitish Katara case, has been pressuring his in-laws to force him to withdraw from the case. Meerut senior superintendent of police Vijay Prakash told Times City: "Katara has alleged in a report, filed at the Kharkhoda police station, that the men in the two cars overtook his Indica car but when they saw the two personal security officers given to him on court orders, they went away." Prakash said: "Initial investigations revealed that they may have followed him but did not overtake or stop his car. But, we are still investigating the case."

Meerut range deputy inspector general of police Prashant Kumar said there seems to be some marital discord between Ajay Katara and his wife. "They had separately come to meet me about their marital problems. The car chase incident allegedly took place some time after that. We are investigating the whole matter and are also looking into the possibility if the incident was a fallout of the marital discord."

Turning up in the Patiala House court complex on Saturday Katara, the last scene witness in the case, submitted a copy of the FIR and his complaint in the court of additional sessions judge Ravinder Kaur. The FIR names Dinesh Singh Gurjjar and one Virendra who followed Katara near Meerut and allegedly tried to attack him.

Informing the court that the two personal security officers who were appointed on court orders were instrumental in saving his life, Katara has sought directions to the police to take action against the culprit. Chief Prosecutor Patiala House courts B S Joon said that in his complaint, Katara has also brought to the attention of the judge previous incidents when he was allegedly harassed, attacked or followed by Yadav's henchmen.

According to the prosecution, Ajay Katara is an extremely crucial witness because he was the one who last saw Nitish alive before he was allegedly murdered by the accused.

Meanwhile, Neelam Katara, mother of Nitish who was allegedly abducted and burnt alive by DP Yadav's son, Vikas Yadav, denied reports that Ajay Katara is Nitish's brother. "He is not related to us in any way. And, I have only one surviving son, Nitin Katara," she said.