TIRUPUR: In the strongest ever verdict against hate crimes in the country, a Tirupur court on Tuesday sentenced six people to death for the 2016 murder of dalit youth V Shankar in Udumalpet.
The 22-year-old was hacked to death by a gang on March 13, 2016 for marrying Kausalya, a non-dalit. Her father Chinnaswamy was among the six facing capital punishment. Three of the 11 accused, including Kausalya’s mother Annalakshmi and her uncle Pandithurai were let off for want of evidence. One of the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment and another got five-years rigorous imprisonment.
CCTV footage showing the cold-blooded slaying in broad daylight near the Udumalpet bus stand, when a gang attacked Shankar and Kausalya with sickles, had sent shock waves across the country. Kausalya suffered grievous injuries in the attack. The footage helped police nab the assailants.
Pronouncing the verdict, principal district and sessions judge Alamelu Natarajan said B Chinnasamy, 40, father of Kausalya, would get the death penalty for murder and 10 years for criminal conspiracy, besides three years for other charges, including attempt to murder Kausalya.
Tirupur court orders eight convicts to pay Rs 11 lakh compensation
Of the remaining 10 accused, five men P Jegadeesan, 31, M Manikandan, 25, P Selvakumar, 25, P Kalai Tamilvanan, 25, and M Madan alias Michael, 25 were sentenced to death. The prosecution said the five were hired by Chinnaswamy to execute the murder. The five, as well as Chinnaswamy, were found guilty under section of 302 the IPC and the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 2015. The Tirupur district and sessions court verdict split rights activists; those against hate crimes supported the judgment and those opposed to death penalty as a principle denounced it.
Moments before she delivered the judgment, Judge Alamelu asked Chinnasamy what punishment he thought he deserved for the offence. Chinnaswamy replied that he was in no way connected with the murder. Judge Alamelu said the court has found him guilty of masterminding the murder and her question was only about the punishment he deserved. “Give me minimum punishment,” Chinnaswamy, said. “I have a college going son,” he added.
The judge moved on to the other accused and posed the same question to them. All the other accused too claimed innocence and sought minimum punishment. U Sankaranayaran, special public prosecutor, told the court that all the accused deserved death sentence as the murder was diabolically planned and cruelly executed.
At the end of the argument, the judge pronounced the verdict sentencing the six to death. In the case of K Stephen Dhanraj, 29, another hireling, the trial court had given him life imprisonment. Importantly, the court directed that he remain behind bars for the rest of his life. M Manikandan, another hireling, was ordered to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment.
The court also ordered a compensation of Rs 11.95 lakh to Kausalya and Shankar’s family. Based on the crimes committed, all eight convicts were directed to pay the fine in different proportions. If they fail, they should be given additional punishment. It ordered that 50% of the amount should be given each to Kausalya and Velusamy, father of Shankar.
Commotion prevailed on the court campus after the judgment was pronounced. Relatives of the accused picked up a quarrel with activists of AIDWA. When an AIDWA member who was giving an interview to a TV channel praised Kausalya for her fight against hate crimes, two men taunted her.
Seeing this, a few men who had gathered there in support of Kausalya, thrashed the two. Police intervened and took the two out of the court campus.
Another group of men belonging to a fringe non-dalit caste outfit entered the court premises and started questioning the judgment.