"Reforms Can Be Bought": Neelam Katara On Jailed Manu Sharma's Charity Work

Sabrina Lall has written a letter to the welfare officer at Delhi's Tihar Jail, where Manu Sharma has spent the last 12 years, saying she "forgives him" and won't object to his release

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'Reforms Can Be Bought': Neelam Katara On Jailed Manu Sharma's Charity Work

Neelam Katara fought a hard battle to get justice for her son who was murdered by a UP minister's son.


New Delhi:  A day when Sabrina Lall announced that she has forgiven Manu Sharma, who killed her sister Jessica Lall, and has no objection if he is released based on his "good work" over the last 12 years that he spent in the Tihar jail, Neelam Katara, who battled hard for justice for her son Nitish Katara who was murdered by a UP minister's son, said that before taking any decision, the government must ensure that Sharma isn't manipulating the system.

"His (Manu Sharma's) conviction was closure for me," Sabrina Lall said today and added that "it's not so much about forgiveness but about letting go of a burden".

Responding to a letter by the jail authorities, Sabrina Lall wrote, "I am told that in this period he has been doing good work for charity and helping inmates in jail which I feel is a reflection of reform... I would like to state I have no objection to his release, owing to the fact that he has spent 15 years in jail."

Neelam Katara, while trashing the whole reform theory, said that it's her (Sabrina) personal belief... it's about her conscience and she can't comment on that. "Sabrina has replied to a query from the jail which is a standard procedure. However, I am more concerned about the jail's claim that Manu Sharma has reformed," she told NDTV.

Ms Katara has pointed out two issues that she wants the jail authorities, the government and the LG to look into before the review board meets to take a final call.

"I came across news items in 2011 and again in 2014 that Manu Sharma's father owns a company that runs a five-star hotel which is stone's throw away from the Tihar jail. I also heard that the jail warden's son was employed at this hotel. It was also reported that Manu Sharma was spending more time there. And if that is true, it's a direct conflict of interest. Somebody who is doing this can't be said to have reformed," Ms Katara said.

Raising serious doubts over his charity work -- Manu Sharma has started an NGO and sponsored education for the underprivileged and also helped the jail authorities with their management work -- Ms Katara said that there is a huge difference between the rich and poor convicts.

"We have seen it in Salman Khan's case, or Sanjeev Nanda who was allowed to study abroad or the Uphaar tragedy accused who said they wanted to start a trauma centre... and their punishment was brought down," she said.

She added, "What we need to understand is that some people can buy reforms. There are others who have been languishing in jail for years because they can't prove that they have reformed by spending money. We definitely need some other manifestation of the reform rather than reforms that can be bought."

The son of former minister and Congress politician Venod Sharma, Manu Sharma was convicted of shooting dead Jessica Lall during a private party in 1999. When Jessica Lall refused to serve him a drink late at night, a furious Manu Sharma whipped out his gun and shot her at point blank range, said witnesses.

His acquittal by a trial court sparked outrage and protests across the country until the case was readmitted in 2006 in the Delhi High Court which held him guilty of murder. The Supreme Court confirmed that verdict.


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