February 16, 2006 20:08 ISTTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
A fast-track court here sentenced two RSS activists to life imprisonment on Wednesday for murdering a bus conductor during a rally held by the organisation in July 2000. It also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 each on Vinod and Vijayakumar. The other 23 accused in the case, including RSS and BJP leaders, have been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment up to four years. Convicted persons include Mr. K.R. Ramakanthan (Kerala state BJP secretary) , G. Gireeshan Nair ( BMS state secretary), K.Rajashekharan (RSS Seva Pramukh) PK. Rajkumar,(RSS Karya Vahak) B.Ravikumar (Trivandrum District RSS Karyavahak), Kaladi Manikantan ( State General Secretrary, VHP), Padmakumar (State secretary, Hindu Aikyavedi), and RSS leaders like Nemom Jayakumar, K K Maheshwaran alias Arun Kumar, Vattiyoorkavu Sudhakaran.
The court, which handed separate punishment for destruction of public property to some of the accused, however, ordered the punishment to be carried out concurrently. Hindu Aikyavedi state president J Sisupalan got a reprieve from the court on account of old age. He will have to serve a three-year prison term.
Rajesh, the bus conductor, was killed when a march organised by RSS and BJP activists in Thiruvananthapuram on July 13, 2000 turned violent. The prosecution argued that the bus conductor was killed with wooden staff and stones in front of the Transport Bhavan. The court has ordered disbursal of Rs 50,000 from the fine to the family of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to the state-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.
The RSS march damaged about 80 buses and public property worth Rs 8 lakh. The prosecution examined 89 witnesses, many of whom turned hostile.
[With inputs from Don Sebastian,DNA India.COM, and Deshavhimani News Paper, Thursday,]
Photos, courtesy : Deshabhimani News Paper
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