(This analytical view was expressed a couple of years ago in 2006 much before the landmark verdict reclaimed its lost glory and sent the Tandoor culprits to the gallows- Jawed Khurshid)
A decade ago, the Lutiyen’s Delhi ’s serene tree-lined boulevard – an epicenter both of mandarin’s munificence and malevolence – showed a mutilated face of crime, deceit, travesty of justice and administrative apathy. The seamier side of Delhi’s back street crime brings chill down the spine. Overnight the Tandoor which usually filled mouth with saliva has become a source of trepidation and terror – a model and high society girl Jessica Lall was consumed in its bellowing fire. Ramp model Jessica Lall was allegedly killed on April 30, 1999 by the former Union minister Venod Sharma’s son Manu Sharma, when she refused to serve him liquor in a restaurant-cum-bar in south Delhi .
Years after this tragedy the demons who committed the act are still roaming free like wolves in the deep wood. They are the part of an establishment that preach Gandhigiri, dons white caps and wears sixty-watt smile across their faces. These avatars of ‘non-violence’ with folded hands ask for your votes that make them kings. The smoldering ‘Tandoors’ turn every act of their crime and indiscretions to ashes.
The fall guys are mostly the witnesses who are threatened by the shadowy perpetrators to turn hostile inside the court of law and such hostilities are not taken kindly by the law. A new amendment has made it an unlawful act. But most of the witnesses who turned hostile are roaming free. Our honorable Apex Court had rightfully ordered the imprisonment to Zaheera Shaikh of Best Bakery fame for her hostility but supposedly different yardsticks are being used in this horrendous case. Ironically, the protagonist of human rights, Teesta Setalvad is silent on this crucial issue. What an irony!
The key witnesses are either sent abroad and made part of the prosperous Indian diaspora as a prize for keeping their mouth shut. Vikas Yadav a co-conspirator who had destroyed every single thread of evidence in Jessica Lall murder case was found murdered in suspicious circumstances. He was eliminated to save the Party’s image. In turn it has plunged this ageing Party – the Congress – into the deep morass.
Bina Ramani needs no introduction – a dreamer and architect who transformed lifeless grey and sandy Hauz Khas into a green and charming Heritage-driven tourist destination. The same Ramani was haunted and arrested under the charges that were so flimsy that it smelt of criminal conspiracy. Bina got caught because in this country the fellow who commits crime never goes to jail. Everyone else around him does. So if you run over someone, your gardener will be given the honour. If you kill someone at your house, then the fellow who delivers you your morning milk will be arrested.
The preachers of Gandhigiri are shamelessly involved in the hushing-up evidence that comes on the way of the party’s image cavalcade.
Jessica Lal case is yet another example of how in India, the powerful can easily make fun of our law, how mockery of a judicial system is done. This Jessica case is not the first one, there are thousands of them, to remember a few, there is Nitesh Katara case, BMW case, Madumita Shukla Murder,Shivani Bhatnagar etc. In all these cases one thing has been common and that is the culprit has been a son or relative of a powerful leader or a businessman and the deceased has been a common man, who was at a wrong place at the wrong time. And the worst part is that police which is there to protect us, turns out to be an accomplice in the crime.