‘Buddha Park rape sentence under media pressure’

NEW DELHI - Relatives of the four members of the President’s Bodyguard who were convicted and sentenced in the 2003 Buddha Jayanti Park gang rape Saturday said the court had succumbed to “media pressure” and pronounced harsh sentences. They plan to appeal against the court’s order.

“The order is very harsh and it is all because of media pressure that the court gave my son life imprisonment. We will appeal against this order,” said Paramanand Singh, father of Satendra Singh one of the two held guilty of raping a 17-year-old girl six years ago.

“Who will look after our family now? Satendra is married and his daughter is studying in Class 5. He is the sole bread earner of our family and has to support other family members too,” Singh said.

A city court awarded life sentence on Satendra Singh and Harpreet Singh, while two other members of the President’s Bodyguard - Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar were given 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

Satender Saturday pleaded his innocence to the court and said he was “being falsely implicated”. “There is no evidence that proves my involvement,” he said.

Kuldeep also said he was innocent. “I am innocent and how do I prove it to you (court). Please see my family before passing any order.”

Mool Singh, a relative of Kuldeep Singh, said: “We are from a poor family and were praying that his job should be saved, but with his conviction all our hopes are shattered.”

However, Mool Singh said they will appeal against the verdict.

The victim, then 17, had gone with her boyfriend Ashish to the Buddha Jayanti Park near Rashtrapati Bhavan Oct 6, 2003. She was raped by Harpreet and Satender while the other two - Kuldeep and Manish - kept a watch.

The four first roughed up Ashish and then took the girl to a secluded place inside the park where they raped her, the prosecution said.


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