For beating an African student into coma, seven youth, including the son of a former senior police officer, will serve 10 years in prison.
A local fast-track court on Thursday held them guilty of the assault on Yannick Nihangaza of East African country Burundi in Jalandhar on April 21 last year. Convicts Sumit Ralhan (25); Sahildeep Singh (21) and his elder brother, Amandeep Singh (24); Ramneet Singh Uppal (24); Harsh Gosai (24); Jaswant Singh (21); and Amanbir Singh Bajwa (25), later, received the sentence from additional district and sessions judge Balwinder Kumar Sharma under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
(Yannick undergoing treatment in a Patiala hospital. HT File Photo)
The seven also get five years under Section 452 (house trespass after preparation for injuring or wrongful restraint), one year under Section 323 (causing hurt voluntarily), one year under Section 148 (armed riot), five years under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy); and one year under Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC. All sentences will run concurrently.
Yannick remains in coma in a private hospital in Patiala. Convict Ramneet Singh Uppal is son of former superintendent of police Dharam Singh Uppal, who died on January 15. He also gets one-year jail under Section 482 (punishment for using a false property mark) of the IPC.
The guilty verdict came in the morning and the sentence around 4.30pm. Accused Jaskaran Singh and Rantaj Singh were declared proclaimed offenders. The former had flown to Australia on student visa after the incident. Heavy police deployment outside the courtroom was for security reason and the possibility of the families' breaking into anger.
Yannick, was in the first-year BSc (computers) programme at Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, at the time of the assault outside his rented accommodation in Dashmesh Nagar here during the birthday party of fellow countryman Astro, also a student at the LPU.
'Black Thursday', cry convict's families
Upon receiving the verdict, one of the convicts, Harsh Gosai, broke down in the courtroom. A police constable sympathised with him, while others stood in shock.
The outside of court, the families of the seven convicts, were in tears when their counsel broke the news. Some of the relatives even argued with journalists outside the court room over alleged media trial and police had to intervene.
They families alleged unfair police investigation and even called it a "Black Thursday" in the country's legal history. "Are our children terrorists that police have deployed a heavy security at the court," said a relative of one of the convicts.
SP Dharam Singh Uppal, 53, father of convict Ramneet Uppal, died of cardiac arrest in January because of the stress since his son's arrest. On June 25, Nestor Ntibateganya, Yannick's father, had written to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, demanding justice for his son and the arresting of all accused.
Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal had then ordered the city police to act tough. The government had announced `5 lakh as compensation to the family.