A number of high-profile criminal trials will be reaching conclusion in the next few months:
Nitish Katara murder: A young, management graduate, Nitish went missing on the night of February 16, 2002. His body was found four days later in Khurja. The prime accused, Vikas Yadav, son of UP politician D.P. Yadav and a co-accused in the Jessica Lall murder case, allegedly killed him because he disapproved of Katara’s relationship with his sister, Bharti Yadav. The case has had its share of drama, including the in-camera testimony of Bharti who has been living in London since her brother’s arrest.
BMW hit and run: On January 10, 1999, at 4 in the morning, the accused Sanjeev Nanda, then a student in an American university and home for his winter break, is said to have killed six labourers when he lost control of his black BMW. Among the victims, five suffered severe injuries while one died on the spot. Nanda is alleged to have been drunk when he lost control of his car. Even as witnesses have turned hostile and the BMW mysteriously turned into a ‘truck’, verdict should be declared soon.
Uphaar Cinema fire: Nine years after a fire broke out at Uphaar that resulted in the death of 59 men, women and children, the case is finally likely to see a final verdict. Of the 16 accused, four have died during the pendency of the trial. The remaining 12, including the Ansals, the cinema hall owners, are accused of causing death of negligence. Public interest in the case has been kept alive through the efforts of the Uphaar families’ association, including Shekhar and Neelam Krishnamurthi whose young daughters died in the tragedy.
Shivani Bhatnagar murder: A journalist with the Indian Express, Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered in her east Delhi flat in January 1999. The prime accused, senior IPS officer Ravi Kant Sharma allegedly masterminded the murder and hired two assassins. Though several witnesses have turned hostile, the case was transferred to a fast track court and the verdict is expected in the first few months of the year.
Connaught Place shootout: On March 31, 1997, ACP SS Rathi ordered indiscriminate firing on two businessmen in a car. The massacre was the result of confused identity: Rathi apparently mistook one of the men for Mohammad Yaseen Khan, a criminal with several cases registered against him who was, ironically, subsequently killed in another ‘encounter’. The fake encounter proved to be hugely embarrassing to the police and home ministry. Case comes up for final hearing soon.