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A Mother's Fight For Justice

Author : million dollars

Submitted : 2010-07-08 04:21:52    Word Count : 641    Popularity:   57

Tags:   justice, fight, law

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A smiling photograph of her elder son Nitish adorns the front wall of Neelam Katara's drawing room, at her quaint little railway bungalow on Chelmsford Road. It is nearly a decade since Nitish was murdered, and in the time since then she has endured much that should have wiped the smiles off her own face. But Mrs.Katara has sustained her will and determination through the years.

In the early hours of 17 February, 2002, Nitish was burned to death mercilessly by Vikas and Vishal Yadav - brothers of Bharti Yadav, the daughter of U.P politician D P Yadav. This was because the Yadav brothers disapproved of Bharti's relationship with Nitish. It was Neelam who identified her son's badly charred body, dumped in the bushes at Khurj, 80 kilometers from Kavi Nagar, the venue of the Ghaziabad wedding he had gone to attend on the preceding fateful night.

A plain reading of the facts of the case, and the prosecution will tell you that a protracted legal battle initiated by Nitish's spirited mother lasted eight years (and still counting), at the end of which the two accused, Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav were found guilty by the trial court of Nitish's gruesome murder, and each given a life sentence. But the proceedings and the verdict are only one side of the story; they do not adequately recount Neelam's experience with the justice system, and the things she endured while fighting this long battle for justice.

Neelam Katara is the daughter of a police officer from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Her maternal grandfather was a judge, and her paternal grandfather was a public prosecutor. But she herself knew very little about the intricacies of law, and neither was she inquisitive to learn about the justice systems and its workings during her near-perfect and well-protected childhood and married life thereafter. Equally, she did not know that at the age of 50, her life would take a sharp turn that required her to understand the system's harsh realities.

Nitish didn't return home on the night of 16 February. At first, Neelam did not worry, thinking that the young man would be enjoying himself at his friend's wedding. But then she received a call from Bharti, who conveyed to Neelam her fear that "her brothers had taken Nitish away somewhere". After making several phone calls to Nitish's friends to trace his whereabouts, Neelam finally decided to head to Kavi Nagar (Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh) herself and lodge a complaint and an F.I.R with the police over there, in which she pin-pointed her suspicion towards Bharti's brothers.

"At this point, I didn't realise that it would have been better had I lodged this complaint at a police station in Delhi, that would have saved me the hassles of getting this case transferred from the Uttar Pradesh trial courts to the trial courts in Delhi - something which ultimately happened in August 2002 following my appeal to the Supreme Court. I appealed because after witnessing first-hand the amount of political clout and influence exerted by D P Yadav in Uttar Pradesh, it was apparent that the judges in those courts could be intimidated and influenced, something which I still stand by", recalls Mrs. Katara. This would be only the first of her many lessons from the trial.

In November 2002, hearings in the case began. Like many others, Neelam's impression of the courts was obtained from Bollywood depictions of courtrooms and their processes. In reality, of course, the courts are nothing like that. And after umpteen visits to all types of courts, Neelam now carries no illusion of how they look like ... "The actual courtrooms resemble nothing like the Bollywood dramas show them to be", she remarked.

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