The pin drop silence in the courtroom was broken by five words: “To be hanged till death.” Muted impatience gave way to frenetic whispers as the two-judge Bench of the Delhi High Court read out the death sentence to Santosh Singh.
Smiles broke out on the faces of Priyadarshini Mattoo’s friends as Singh’s younger brother closed his eyes and hung his head.
Seconds later the news was broken to Santosh, who was sitting outside in a sofa, empty stomach. He didn’t utter a word but the stunned look on his face said it all. And then he broke down, helping himself with his right hand; the other hand in the tight grip of a Delhi Armed Police (DAP) constable.
“His hands were dead cold,” revealed the constable a little later. “We are used to these things. We have to hold the convicts by one hand, even if they are crying.”
Relatives and friends tried to comfort Santosh but were at a loss for words. Speechless, they stood around Santosh.
Inside, father JP Singh, a retired IPS officer, paced the lobby looking quietly at people who would come to him. Finally, he went out and sat besides his son.
A friend brought two glasses of water. Santosh reluctantly took the glass after friends asked him to relax. “He has not eaten anything since morning... He has been very quiet and tense,” said the DAP constable.
Court adjourned, people started trooping out of the building. As Singh was being taken away, two of his fraternity pointed at him — “There is the murderer.”
Email Tushar Srivastava: firstname.lastname@example.org