Photo Credit France Government
A French woman's email took me back 26 years
At around 8.30 am on August 3 when I was checking emails on my laptop, I suddenly saw a mail from a new address.
The very first word of the email id whetted my curiosity as this was the name which has a long, unforgettable story attached to it.
The email was from Katia Dernard, the French woman, who was allegedly molested in Chandigarh-Mohali on August 31, 1994 while she was here on a visit and remained in the headlines.
The mail started with a quote from an article I wrote on the Babushahi portal in September 2019 along with the link of the article.
Next was a paragraph from my article:
“Why she did not appear remains a mystery. Even a letter published on the front page of the Tribune on August 14, 2017 claiming to have been written by Katia did not mention this aspect.
Well, Katia's case became an unforgettable part of my career as a reporter because I broke the story of her kidnapping . "
Next in the mail she wrote: “My letter has not been claimed to be sent... it was written by me and I am proud of it... and if you read it carefully you have the answer to your question « why she did not appear »...
Katia's next line was even more interesting. “Just in case you would be still suspicious on my Identity here is a picture that I ask you to keep private,” she wrote.
Katia’s mail took me back to 26 year back. I thought for a long time after reading the email and everything related to the case flashed before my eyes: The headlines in newspapers, former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s family embroiled in the case and the politics being played.
However, I replied to Katia's email saying that it was a pleasant surprise as this was the first contact between us since our meeting in 1994.
At the same time I asked her if she could clarify the fact that the letter published in The Tribune was indeed from her and does she still stand by what she wrote.
The very next day, I got the reply. Katia wrote,
Yes I would really appreciate if you clarify...”
This is the provocation to write this piece otherwise I would not have done this because it creates political controversy whenever any news/ comments appear in the media.
Just for info that Katia had written the letter in The Tribune in response to the stalking of Haryana IAS officer’s daughter Varnika Kundu by the son of then Haryana BJP president.
Link of my article posted on Katia case in September 2019
How Katia’s kidnapping became breaking news in 1994?
...... I remember that next morning it was the front page news in The Ajit published in two vertical columns. Gobind Thukral was the first journalist to call after reading the news. It became a hot topic of discussion in media, government and political circles. The crime reporters of other newspapers also became active. Some were even pulled up by their editors for missing the story.
The first report mentioned it as a case of kidnapping and rape but the rape charge was not subsequently confirmed. We then reported it to be a case of kidnapping and molestation. Anyways, it started transpiring by the afternoon that the Gypsy used in the incident and gunmen were attached with the Punjab Chief Minister’s office.
This made us more determined to get at the bottom of the case. I and my photographer colleague TS Bedi visited Katia early next morning. She agreed to talk after a great deal of persuasion saying she was fed up after narrating her tale already to the police about ten times.....
The next day her photograph was also published in The Ajit along with her version. At that time, there was no legal restriction on publishing the name and photograph of any victim of molestation or rape....
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Here is the image of a portion of the letter which was published in The Tribune and its net link:
The photo of Katia published in Ajit newpaper dated September 03, 1994
Click to read this in Punjabi
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