Neelam Katara's six-year-long battle for justice against a politically powerful family, which many would think twice before taking on, has proved that fortune does favour the brave. The Patiala House Court on Wednesday pronounced Vikas and Vishal Yadav guilty for the kidnapping and murder of Ms Katara’s son, Nitish, six years ago. Nitish was murdered by the accused, as they did not approve of their sister, Bharti Yadav’s growing proximity with him. The duo has also been declared guilty of destruction of evidence and the quantum of sentence will be declared soon. After the order, Ms Katara said she was “determined” to take the fight forward regardless of whom she was fighting or how powerful he was. This is not the first time that we have seen such steely resolve for justice from civil society. Remember the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases? In both instances, the families held their ground against the high and mighty till they obtained justice.
Without taking anything away from the families, it must be said that the media also had a big role to play in keeping up the pressure on authorities to nail the guilty. And this, in turn, egged civil society on to form a human chain against people who take power for granted. Acknowledging the power of civil society, Ms Katara said: “I made new friends in this long battle… I don’t think that I am alone in my fight”. It was again media vigilantism that made sure that the deaths of whistleblowers like Manjunath and Satyendra Dubey didn’t fall by the wayside.
Many would argue that the media over-steps its limits on many occasions and becomes an obstacle in the investigation process by pushing for results overnight, like in the Aarushi Talwar murder case. This is true to an extent, but in a country where criminal investigation is done in a very shoddy manner and cases take years to resolve, no one can deny that this kind of counter-weight does play an important role. Having said that, we agree that it is also a double-edged sword that should be used judiciously. But then isn’t a double-edged sword better than having no sword at all?