A Delhi court on Wednesday convicted four people for the murder of television journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, who was shot dead 15 years ago while she was returning home from work. Additional Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Pandey also convicted Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet and Ajay Kumar under provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
Fifth accused Ajay Sethi was convicted under Indian Penal Code section 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) and under MCOCA provisions for conspiring to abet, aid or knowingly facilitate organised crime and for receiving the proceeds of organised crime.
Kanwal says Soumya's murder haunted him for 15 years
Rahul Kanwal, India Today anchor and one of the former colleagues of Soumya Vishwanathan, took to X (formerly Twitter), to pay tributes to her, who he said was "the brightest young producer".
In an emotional post, Kanwal acknowledged that Soumya Vishwanathan's "gruesome murder" haunted him for 15 years.
"Soumya Vishwanathan was the brightest young producer I have had the privilege of working with. On the night she was murdered, Soumya had stayed back after finishing the afternoon shift to help the night team prepare for the morning show. There had been a major terror attack and the newsroom was stretched covering the breaking news. Soumya was the flag-bearer of commitment and hard work in our newsroom. Her gruesome murder on the way back home has haunted me for 15 years," Kanwal wrote.
Was filled with emotions when accused were convicted: Kanwal
Kanwal, who was present in the courtroom when the accused were convicted, said, "Was filled with emotion and relief as I heard Judge Pandey pronounce all the accused guilty in a crowded Saket courtroom this afternoon. Nothing will bring Soumya back but at least the murderers will pay for their crime. The evidence in the case was largely circumstantial."
Kanwal stressed that though the public prosecutors had their moments of doubt, he went on to praise Soumya's parents for their resilience. "Hats off to the resilience of Soumya’s parents for standing strong through this arduous trial. I hope to God no parent ever has to go through what Soumya’s family has had to endure," Kanwal said.
The senior journalist also shared his pictures with Soumya's parents.
Wanted to punch convicts in face: Kanwal
The prime time anchor, in a separate post on X, said he wanted to stand up and punch the accused in their face.
"Anger seared through me when I saw Soumya Vishwanathan’s killers in the Saket district court this afternoon. My first instinct was to want to stand up and punch them hard in the face. They looked rough and lost," Kanwal said.
Kanwal also confessed that he felt anxious when the judgement was being pronounced. "Soumya’s mother later said her stomach was churning while Judge Pandey was reading the verdict. Didn’t have the courage to tell her that my mind too had been spinning with anxiety," he said.
"As journalists we think we get numb to what’s happening in the news. But this was a calamity in our own home. The gruesome murder of Soumya Vishwanathan wasn’t a story. She was one of us. This could have been any of us. All of us from the Headlines Today days remember Soumya fondly. She will live forever in my heart and mind as the emblem of the ideal TV producer," he went on to add.
While convicting the accused, the judge said the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the charges against the accused.
Vishwanathan was shot dead on September 30, 2008, while she was returning home from work in her car around 3:30 am. Police had claimed that the motive behind the killing was robbery. Five people were arrested for the murder and they have been in custody since March 2009.