The Priyadarshani Mattoo case owes its success to public outcry over the acquittals in the Jessica Lall murder trial. For over seven years, everyone had forgotten about the appeal filed by the CBI in the High Court in the Mattoo case.
But things changed in February this year when nine accused in the Jessica Lall murder case were acquitted. The family and the citizens of Delhi felt betrayed. They rose in protest and demanded justice.
That was the turning point. Goaded by public condemnation of the lax investigation and the shocking acquittal of Santosh Kumar Singh despite strong circumstantial evidence, the CBI began dusting its files.
The appeal against Santosh’s acquittal, filed by the agency way back in 2000, had been lost in translation of documents of the trial court. “The case was gathering dust because certain interested parties wanted so,” said Priyadarshani’s father Chaman Lal Mattoo while talking to HT.
As public anger grew, the system started to churn. The CBI director promised that the agency would go ahead with the appeal as fast as possible and all efforts would be made to bring the accused to book.
The heat was on as a campaign, “Justice for Priyadarshani”, was launched and people took to the streets to fight on behalf of Mattoo’s family.
Peaceful protests were organised at the India Gate lawns, which revealed a different Delhi — a Delhi with a conscience; a Delhi that would no longer put up with the chalta hai attitude.
Stirred, people from all walks of life took part in the campaign. SMS campaigns were launched. The media chipped in and highlighted the cause.
“We drew inspiration from the Jessica Lall case after seeing what public outcry can do. Our idea was to get justice, not vengeance,” said Priyadarshani’s friend Indu Jalali.
“This is a historical judgement which will set a precedent and also act as a deterrent. The public outcry mattered the most in turning the case around,” said Aditya Raj Kaul, an activist.
Email Tushar Srivastava: firstname.lastname@example.org