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May 28, 2008 at 11:43pm IST

Neelam Katara's battle for justice pays off

New Delhi: Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav were convicted on Wednesday by the Patiala House Court for kidnapping and killing Nitish Katara six years ago on February 16, 2002.

As soon as the court delivered its verdict, it was all smiles and celebrations for Nitish's mother Neelam Katara as her six-year long battle for justice had finally ended.

Vikas and Vishal were also convicted on charges of abduction and destruction of evidence.

"I had visulised this every day for the last six years. Now that it has actually happened one is to believe that everything is not in trance and that it has actually happened. It is huge relief," Neelam Katara said after the verdict was announced.

The Yadavs and Sukhdev Pehlwan had allegedly killed Nitish as Vikas did not approve of his sister Bharti's relationship with him.

Bharti confirmed in court that she and Nitish were friendly and that bolstered the prosecution's case.

"Here the case was not emotional. It was a very clear intention that the prime witness was not coming and testifying in the court and was dodging teh court for the around four years. It was important for that witness to come and that witness came and testified," Nitin Katara, Nitish's brother, said.

The verdict came as a surprise to key players who were still waiting for the Delhi High Court to decide on an application by the defence seeking a stay on the verdict.

DP Yadav, Vikas Yadav's father, said, "I don't know how the lower court could do this when an application is pending in the High Court."

The court however found the prosecution's story watertight and in a 1,100 page order Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur said, "The Valentines Day card and other documents prove that Bharti and Nitish weren't just friends. She was sent to UK to keep her away from court proceeding. If it was mere friendship there was no such need."

The prosecution says they have been vindicated and will ask for the maximum punishment.

Public Prosecutor BS Joon said, "After going through the judgement we will ask for the maximum sentence and in murder case there are only two sentence - death or life."

For six years the corridors of the Patiala House Court have been witness to Neelam Katara's struggle to get justice for her dead son. Now six years later the battle has been won.

The focus now shifts to May 30 when it will be finally known if Vikas is sentenced to death or spends the rest of his life behind bars.