Anand Jon's life verdict upsets Indian designers
Last month, the fashion fraternity in New Delhi had come out in full support of US-based Indian-born fashion designer Anand Jon and on Monday, when a Los Angeles court sentenced him to 59 years in prison for sexually assaulting young women, there was a sense of disappointment all around.delhi Updated: Sep 01, 2009 15:50 IST
Last month, the fashion fraternity in New Delhi had come out in full support of US-based Indian-born fashion designer Anand Jon and on Monday, when a Los Angeles court sentenced him to 59 years in prison for sexually assaulting young women, there was a sense of disappointment all around.
Top designer Leena Singh of designer duo Ashima-Leena summed up the general feeling when she said that all she wanted from the trial was that no questions should be left unanswered - which perhaps had not happened in this case.
"It's the fundamental right of every individual to get a fair trial. All I wanted was that Jon should get a fair trial and there should be no unanswered questions left, either for his family or his friends," Leena told IANS on the phone from Kuwait, where she is showcasing her works.
Jon, who dressed celebrities like Janet Jackson and Paris Hilton and who appeared on the reality television show America's Next Top Model, was arrested in the US in 2007 on charges of raping more than a dozen models. On Nov 16, he was convicted of 16 charges, including rape and sexual assault.
Acting as his own attorney, Jon presented a lengthy argument in the court and urged a new trial, citing the inadequate defence by his former attorneys. On Monday, however, Judge David Wesley denied his motion and handed down the hefty sentence while Jon's victims wept in the jury box.
Wesley sentenced the designer to the maximum sentence for all but two of those counts, saying he showed no remorse for his actions and posed a danger to other young women.
The verdict shocked Anand's sister Sanjana, who is currently in India to garner the government's support for her brother.
"I want support from media to spread the word of injustice that has been bestowed on us. My voice can't be heard unless and until the media supports me and helps in getting us heard. Also, I want the government to take some quick action and look into the legalities of this case," said a devastated Sanjana.
Sanjana had last month pleaded with the Indian government to extradite her brother for a fair trial because "being an Indian in the US, I know we won't get justice".
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Aug 18, Sanjana Jon said: "We have been subjected to racism. Even mass murderers are not treated that way, the way Anand is treated in jail."
"All I want is that the government should intervene and do something to save my brother who has been suffering due to racism and discrimination towards Indians," said Sanjana about her brother who she said was "held in solitary confinement".
Commenting on the verdict, designer Charu Parashar said: "It is a very sad day for Anand's family, especially his sister, who has been fighting this lonely battle for years now. Fifty-nine years is a long period and for someone to be sentenced for such a long duration is a horrifying thought in itself."
"Personally, I feel that Sanjana would be devastated at this moment. I don't know what her next step will be. But on Tuesday is the day when a family has lost a son and a brother," she added.
Designer Samanth Chauhan also doubted whether Jon got a fair trial and wanted the Indian government to intervene.
"I don't know whether the trial was fair or not. But its just a request from the design fraternity to the government to look into this matter and assure fair trial. Though the verdict has been declared, I am sure there must be something that can be done," Chauhan maintained.
Bollywood singer Shibani Kashyap, well known for her song "Sajna Aa Bhi Jaa", was also very disappointed with the verdict.
"I am very disappointed with the verdict. I know Anand personally and I truly support him. He didn't get a chance to prove his innocence. It is very shocking," Kashyap contended.