Happy, but not entirely: Neelam Katara after sentencing
"I am happy, but not entirely," said a composed Neelam Katara as she walked out of the court on Friday after guilty cousins Vikas and Vishal Yadav were sentenced to life term for the murder six years ago of her son Nitish. Dressed in a white cotton sari, a big black bindi on her forehead, the brave mother appeared vindicated by the court verdict.
Neelam has been the picture of courage as she doggedly pursued the case for the past six years in which top Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav's son Vikas and his cousin Vishal were the main accused.
Neelam's lawyer BS Joon said although "she respects the decision of the court", they were hoping that the accused would get the death sentence instead of life imprisonment.
A city court, while awarding the life term, also fined Vikas and Vishal Yadav Rs.160,000 each.
Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur said the crime did not fall in the "rarest of rare" category and was not a fit case to warrant a death penalty, which the prosecution was arguing for.
"We wanted death sentence for Vikas and Vishal Yadav but because the post mortem of Nitish Katara showed that it was a single injury case - the death was caused due to a singe injury, probably the court thought that this was not the rarest of the rare case," Joon said.
"We are happy. There have been lots of pressure on us from all quarters. All the credit goes to the complainant - Neelam Katara," he added.
A near stampede took over the court premises as the accused were escorted out of the court.
Vishal, in a white shirt and trousers, and Vikas, in a blue shirt, walked away calmly, not showing any hint of regret or remorse.
DP Yadav, father of Vikas Yadav, followed them saying that his son is innocent and that they had been cornered in a "conspiracy".
"We are innocent. We haven't done anything wrong. We will go to the high court and appeal there… we haven't got any justice," Yadav said.
"My political career will be affected by this. This has been a conspiracy against us," he added.
An equally incensed GK Bharti, lawyer of Vikas Yadav, said that the media has always played a negative role in this case.
"Had the media not portrayed Vikas and Vishal in a negative light, as though they were criminals right from the start, probably things would have been different," he fumed even as media persons crowded around him.
"We are definitely going to appeal in the high court as soon as possible. It's a 1,100 page judgment, so it will take some time but we won't take things lying down," he said.
Observing that the court doesn't function on emotions, Bharti said getting a life imprisonment was hardly an achievement. "We are not happy," he concluded.