SC gave death, but victimís father still waits for justice

Amid the nationwide debate over giving rapists the death penalty, here is a case in which the Supreme Court awarded the death sentence, but the victim's family is still waiting for justice.

Amrish Kumar's five-year-old daughter was raped and killed in 2001. The accused, a neighbour, was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in February 2005. But former president Pratibha Patil commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment in May last year.

"We feel injustice has been done to us. Satish raped and strangulated my only daughter. He should be hanged to death, as ordered by the Supreme Court," said Kumar, a farmer in his early forties who lives in Meerut with his wife and 14-year-old son.

It is not just the trauma of losing his only daughter. Kumar spent a lot of money in pursuing the case. "I sold a part of my land and a house to raise the money," he said.

After the Supreme Court order, he thought his quest for justice had ended. But he now finds himself getting ready to fight another battle.

The case dates back to August 16, 2001, when Kumar's five-year-old daughter was abducted while she was returning home from school. The family lodged a missing report with the Sardhana police station in Meerut. The next day, her body was found in a field.

Following reports that the girl was last seen with Satish, he was picked up for questioning. Satish later admitted to the crime, and the victim's clothes were recovered from his residence.

On October 29, 2002, a Meerut court awarded death sentence to Satish for murder, along with custodial sentences and fines for various other offences.

However, the Allahabad High Court on October 14, 2003, set aside the conviction, saying that it was based on circumstantial evidence. Satish was released from jail.

The state then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. "I did not give up. After the appeal was filed in the Supreme Court, I hired a lawyer in Delhi to fight the case," said Kumar.

In February 2005, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court's order of death penalty, observing, "we have no hesitation in holding that the case at hand falls in the rarest of rare category and death sentence awarded by the trial court was appropriate.''

Following the Supreme Court judgement, Satish went into hiding. He was nabbed from Jind in Haryana about five months later.

"I went to Punjab about 10 times after coming to know he was hiding there, but he managed to give me the slip. Later, I came to know that he was working at a brick klin in Jind. I informed the local police and went to Jind with them. We caught Satish there and brought him to Meerut," said Kumar. Satish, now 43, is lodged in the Agra Central Jail at present.

In July last year, Kumar came to know through media reports that the President had accepted Satish's mercy petition. "I wrote to the President and the Prime Minister raising objection, but got no response," he said.

After the nationwide outrage over the Delhi gangrape, Kumar again sent letters to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other authorities.

"I have sent a letter to Sushma Swaraj and some other senior BJP leaders also after coming to know that they advocated death penalty for those responsible for rape and murder," he said.

He has also sent petitions to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, National Human Rights Commission, National Women's Commission and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Amrish said that if no decision is taken soon, he and his family members will begin a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on January 26.

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