Justice at last
Fourteen years after management student Nitish Katara was kidnapped and burnt to death in a reported case of honour killing, the Supreme Court on Monday sentenced both Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav to 25 years in prison without remission. Vikas Yadav is the son of the mafia-don-turned Uttar Pradesh politician and former parliamentarian DP Yadav, who is also facing a separate jail term in another murder case. The Apex Court’s decision has finally brought closure to the victim’s mother, Neelam Katara. Suffice it to say, the conviction and jail term for the powerful accused would not have been possible but for the indomitable spirit shown by Neelam Katara. “For the last 14 years, she has been running to court for every single hearing, every single parole application, every single bail application. Despite all the intimidations in courts, despite all the threats, she has stood firm. It was only recently that the threats stopped after the father (D.P. Yadav) himself went to jail in another murder case,” said senior Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who has been Neelam’s trusted counsel through the trial. The point of debate on this case now is whether the Apex Court’s judgment will serve as a deterrent to honour killings in the future. The answer is unlikely. Admittedly the lack of timely prosecutions emboldens those willing to participate in such brutal acts of insanity. But honour killings are rooted in deeply primitive cultural practices. In India, these primitive cultural practices are set within overarching caste and patriarchal structures that govern the lives of many communities. The hope is that the Apex Court’s judgment sets a precedent for all courts adjudicating on future cases of honour killings.