Pushkin Chandra’s killers get life term

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) A city court Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to two men convicted for murdering a gay man, Pushkin Chandra, and his friend Kuldip in 2004.

Additional Sessions Judge A.K. Kuhar sentenced Rajesh Rekhwar, 27, and Moti, 25, under Sections 302 (murder) and 308 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court also imposed a fine of Rs.3,000 on each of them.

Rekhwar’s lawyer Aman Sareen, during the argument on quantum of sentence, said the court must see the circumstances in which the murders took place. Sareen also said that Rekhwar is HIV positive and his family – wife and three children – would suffer with harsher punishment.

Rekhwar’s wife, who was present in the court along with their children, broke down after hearing the sentence.

Moti, who represented his case himself, said: ‘I have no criminal record and my family will suffer if harsh punishment is handed to me.’

Pushkin Chandra, 38, an employee with the United Nations Development Programme and son of a retired IAS officer, was found dead along with his friend Kuldip at his residence in Anand Lok here on the night of Aug 13, 2004.

The court has, however, acquitted Munna and Jai Kishore, who were accused of being involved in ‘destruction of evidence’ and ‘keeping the stolen property’ for lack of proof.

While convicting Rekhwar and Moti, the court relied on witness Hare Ram, the domestic help of Chandra’s father. Ram had identified both the accused as the people last seen with Chandra and Kuldeep.

According to the prosecution, Ram was the first to discover the bodies and the last to have seen the victims alive. He was one of the 37 prosecution witnesses who deposed before the court.

‘Chandra’s belongings, including a DVD player, that were recovered by the police from Rekhwar’s house also formed the basis of his conviction. The prosecution had also produced photographs clicked at an ATM in which Rekhwar was seen withdrawing cash using Chandra’s ATM cards,’ the chargesheet read.

Rekhwar in his disclosure statement claimed that Chandra used to pick him and Moti from Connaught Place to have sex with them. Pornographic tapes of men engaged in same-sex activity were recovered from the murder scene. Pushkin’s car and several other belongings were missing.

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