Nearly four years after the kidnap and murder of Khushpreet (5) provoked widespread protests after the child’s body was recovered from a pit, additional district and sessions judge Atul Kasana on Tuesday held three accused guilty.
Those convicted are the main conspirator, Sukhdev Singh alias Sukha (37), his brother Gurvinder Singh (34), both neighbours of the victim, and their servant Nand Kishore (30). The brothers have been convicted for kidnapping for ransom (Section 364-A, Indian Penal Code), conspiracy (120), destruction of the evidence (201) and murder (302), while their servant has been convicted for kidnapping for ransom (Section 364-A), conspiracy (120) and destruction of evidence (201).
Khushpreet was kidnapped for ransom on December 21, 2010, and his body was recovered on January 5, 2011, from a pit in Phase 10, SAS Nagar. After the child had recognised Sukhdev, the latter strangulated Khushpreet with his ‘patka’ and stuffed the body in a carry bag and dumped it in a pit.
The convicts showed no remorse while Khushpreet’s family broke down after the court pronounced all the three guilty. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on April 18.
“No one should undergo the pain, which we went through for no fault of ours. Finally, justice has been done and I hope that the killers of my son would get death,” said Khushpreet’s father Lakhbir Singh.
The victim's mother Kulwinder Kaur could not hold back her tears. “Nothing less than death should be given to the killers. I still cannot believe that my son was killed by our neighbours. I am scared to see children passing near the house of the convicts.”
Khushpreet, a kindergarten student and son of a dairy owner, was kidnapped from near his house at Burail on December 21, 2010. As per the police, Khushpreet’s kidnapping and murder was planned by accused Sukhdev Singh, who had hatched the conspiracy along with his brother Gurvinder and a labourer, Nand Kishore.
The child during his detention in a dark and dingy room was mostly fed with chips and biscuits. He was forced to consume a sleeping pill every day so that he didn’t make noise.
The police came under severe criticism for “casual attitude” that reportedly allowed the kidnappers slip away as a police trap to arrest them failed and they fled with 4 lakh ransom on December 23, 2010.
MOTIVE BEHIND CRIME
Accused Sukhdev Singh was employed as a daily wager with the local water works department. He was under debt and owed lakhs of rupees to others. Sukhdev eyed his neighbour, Lakhbir Singh (Khushpreet’s father), who runs a dairy shop in Burail, and hatched a plan to kidnap one of his two minor sons for ransom.