Forgave Jessica Lal's murderer as Christianity teaches, says sister Sabrina

Jessica Lal's sister Sabrina Lal
Almost 19 years after Jessica Lal was on April 29, 1999, shot dead at a private party hosted at a South Delhi pub, her sister Sabrina Lal has said that she holds no grudge against convict Manu Sharma, lodged at Delhi's Tihar jail for over 15 years now. Sabrina has said she has no objection to the release of the prime accused, Siddhartha Vashishtha, better known as Manu Sharma. She said she had forgiven the man who killed her sister and won't object if he was released.

Manu Sharma is currently serving life imprisonment in Tihar jail for having shot dead Delhi-based model Jessica, who was serving as a celebrity bartender at the pub that night, when she refused him a drink.

In a letter to the welfare office of Central Tihar Jail, Sabrina Lal has said that she has been informed about Manu Sharma’s charitable work during his stay in Tihar jail, which has been helping inmates. Sharma has been shifted to open-jail on grounds of good conduct.

Sabrina, who fought a lengthy legal battle for justice, has said she has moved on and has no objection to the killer being released from jail.

Sabrina Lal said she had received a letter from the jail authorities regarding a victim compensation fund and Sharma's release last month.

"I replied to that letter and said I had no objection to his release. It's not so much about forgiveness but it's about letting go of a burden, something from which I have moved on. For me, it's about taking a load off me," she told PTI.

In her reply to the letter sent by the jail authorities, Sabrina Lal pointed out that Sharma had been helping inmates during the 15 years he had spent in prison.

Talking to ANI, Sabrina said, "I have been fighting for this since 1999. He has spent 15 years in jail. You need to let go off anger. I thought it is okay if Manu Sharma walks free. There is no specific reason. You need to rest your mind and move on with your life. I have no objection if the court releases him."

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Lal pointed out that he had also worked for charity. “I am told that in this period he has been doing good work for charity and helping inmates in jail which I feel is a reflection of reform," her letter said, added PTI.

Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Lall in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi high court reversed the verdict and the Supreme Court upheld the life sentence in April 2010.

According to a report in The Hindu, Manu Sharma works with his non-profit organisation, which works for the rehabilitation of prisoners and their children. He helps inmates’ children receive education by providing fees, uniforms, books and stationery. Sabrina is forgiving the convict Manu Sharma, as she "believes in the Christian philosophy of forgiveness, just like her mother".

Manu Sharma may seek an early release from the prison on the basis of “excellent work, discipline and conduct”. The son of the former Indian National Congress minister Vinod Sharma was sentenced by the Delhi high court in December 2006. In February 2011, the Supreme Court of India upheld the High Court verdict.

Manu Sharma's release by a trial court sparked outrage across the nation until the case was reconsidered in 2006 in the Delhi High Court. After examining the evidence again by the court, he was held guilty of murder. Later, the Supreme Court upheld the high court's verdict.
What is an open jail?

Open jails are minimum security prisons. Prisoners with good behaviour satisfying certain norms prescribed in the prison rules are admitted in open prisons. Prisoners are mostly engaged in agricultural activities.

Seventeen states have functioning Open Jails in their jurisdiction. Rajasthan reported the highest number of 29 open jails. There are no Open Jails in any of the UTs at the end of 2015

In January 2017, the Delhi High Court had extended the parole of convict Manu Sharma to pursue his LLB course and also for his marriage registration. Sharma had been given parole six times since September 2009 to pursue a Bachelor's in Law course from Annamalai University, Chennai. Sharma was granted paroles despite police objections on the basis of furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount and not to try to meet any witnesses or family of the deceased in the case.

In November 2017,  the accused Sharma was asked to return to prison after it was learnt that he had been visiting night clubs in Delhi and was also involved in a fight, said The Hindu report.

Jessica Lal, a 34-year-old model, was working as a celebrity waitress when she was shot dead on April 29, 1999, by Manu Sharma at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani in south Delhi's Mehrauli area.

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