Sabrina plans to start foundation in sister Jessica Lal’s memory

Saloni Bhatia

New Delhi, Jun 2 (PTI) Sabrina Lal, who fought a long legal battle to bring her sister Jessica Lal’s killer to book, plans to start a foundation in the memory of her sister and help women in similar situations get justice.

She says she has forgiven her sister’s killer, Manu Sharma, who walked out of jail on June 1 after the Delhi Sentence Review Board recommended his premature release.

Siddharth Vashisht, better known as Manu Sharma, was serving life sentence in Tihar Jail here for the 1999 murder.

'I really do not have anything to say. I am not feeling anything. I feel numb. The only thing I hope and pray to God is that he never thinks of repeating that mistake again,' Sabrina told PTI on Tuesday.

She had in 2018 written to the jail authorities that she had no objection to Sharma’s release.

'I wrote that I had no objection to his release. It was a long and arduous fight... It was very difficult. It is not easy to go back to a normal life.

'After he (Sharma) was convicted, one started feeling better about oneself and there was a load lifted that at least justice had been served. It takes years… it does not happen quickly,' she says.

But has she forgiven him? 'You have to forgive. If you hold on to hate and revenge, you cannot move on. Forgiveness is something you have to feel. You can never forget, but you need to forgive at some point,” comes the reply.

'This journey is now 21 years old. You cannot live in that situation for long. You just have to come to terms with the fact that you have to forgive someone who did something really horrible to your family,' she adds.

Sabrina notes that it is crucial to get out of the rut and get back to normalcy.

'You need to have the strength of mind and will power to do so,' she says. Sabrina became a beacon of hope for many in their quest for justice when the circumstances looked hostile.

She, however, says that she tries to run away from the spotlight as much as possible.

For Sabrina, spirituality and her belief in God helped her forgive the killer of her beloved sister.

Even though it has been long, Sabrina says, she remembers her sister every day and plans to start a foundation in her memory.

'We are thinking of opening Jessica Lall Foundation where we want to help women, empower them and do something meaningful and help other people in the same situation,' she says.

Calling Jessica her closest friend-cum-sister, Sabrina says she misses her sister’s presence in her life every day.

'She was jovial and positive in life. It is not just birthdays and death anniversaries that I miss her, it is every day. I have lots of pictures of hers in my home and not that I need them to miss her, but they are there to remind me of her,' she adds.

Manu Sharma, son of former Union minister Venod Sharma, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lal in 1999.

A trial court had acquitted him, but the high court reversed the order. The Supreme Court later upheld his life sentence in April 2010.

Jessica Lal was shot dead by Sharma after she refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi's Mehrauli area on the night of April 30, 1999.