Breaking the dignified silence his family had maintained so long, the brother of the girl raped and killed 14 years ago by Dhananjoy Chatterjee has at last written to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, demanding “capital punishment” for the killer of his sister, Hetal Parekh.
With the convict’s hanging stalled and anti-capital punishment lobbies mounting pressure against Dhananjoy’s execution, Hetal’s brother, Rajinder, alias Raja, said over the telephone from his apartment in Mumbai’s Santa Cruz: “I have sent a letter to the President telling him why we want the death sentence to be executed because it involves one who has shattered our family.” He added that the letter, written and faxed by him, is an appeal for justice.
This is the first appeal of its kind by the Parekhs after Dhananjoy’s hanging was stalled, following the President’s decision to consider the latest mercy petition that was filed hours before he was to be taken to the gallows at Alipore jail.
“It’s been a long wait… For 14 years, we have been waiting for justice,” the brother said. Rajinder took a deep breath and his emotion-charged words tumbled out: “Why shouldn’t he be hanged' If someone, who is supposed to guard the life and property of a place, ends up with a murderous act then what do we expect, tell me'”
After Hetal’s murder, the Parekhs had quietly sold their third-floor flat in Anand Apartments, on Puddapukur Road, where the schoolgirl was murdered, and disappeared from the scene. But the Parekhs have not forgotten the terrifyingly sadistic act. “The fact remains that my sister was wronged… terribly wronged,” the brother said, and then suddenly hung up, when asked his full name.
Jamuna Mahal, in Santa Cruz (East), remained incommunicable thereafter. The Parekhs possibly preferred to keep the phone off the hook.
But could Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment' Neither investigating officer Sachi Majumder nor the police top brass would comment in public.
In private, though, police officers became more vocal. “The forensic report had indicated that Hetal’s was a case of rape after murder,” claimed a senior officer, adding that possibly the convict was not sure of the girl’s death and wanted to take it out on the girl for having spurned his passes. Dhananjoy was the security guard-cum-liftman of the apartment where the Parekhs lived.
“It is not proper for me to delve into this, but we had put the pieces together to show how Dhananjoy and Dhananjoy alone was responsible for both the murder and the rape of the girl. It was gruesome and we had presented all our findings before the court for subsequent judgments,” said Majumder.
A sub-inspector with Bhowanipore police station, Majumder recounted how the convict’s stainless steel neck-chain had been the most vital clue in the case. Dhananjoy had left it behind inside the flat.
Curiously, the petition of Dhananjoy’s brother, Bikash, echoes the sufferings that the case had caused — a man condemned for life had been suffering all these years. Armed with a detailed writ petition, Bikash is now camping in Delhi, waiting for the official word from Rashtrapati Bhavan.