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Reacting to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case, Neelam Katara, mother of another murder victim Nitish Katara, on Wednesday said life sentence in India “means freedom for the culprits”.

“I know how it feels to lose one’s child. Life sentence in our country means freedom for the culprits, soon they are out on bail,” Katara said.

Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a senior police officer, had been given death sentence by the Delhi High Court four years ago for the 1996 rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, his junior in Delhi University. The Supreme Court on Wednesday commuted it to life imprisonment.

Katara said: “I can understand the family’s disappointment. Murder in our country hasn’t remained the rarest of rare case because there are so many murders. There is a lacuna in our criminal justice system.”

Drawing parallels with her son’s case, she said: “I have got two prisoners out there on life sentence who are out on parole, making my life difficult.”

Katara’s son Nitish, a business executive, was murdered in 2002 by Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav’s son Vikas for being in a relationship with his sister, Bharti.

Both Vikas and his cousin Vishal were convicted in the case.

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