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CPM trio guilty, leaders cleared

Chandrasekharan’s widow KK Rema comes out of the court on Wednesday. (PTI)

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 22: A Kerala court today convicted 12 men, including three prominent CPM activists, for the murder of a rebel Marxist, one-and-a-half years after the cold-blooded lynching had shocked the state by its brutality.

The court, however, set free some prominent leaders of the CPM who were tried as accused, including the party’s Kozhikode district secretariat member P. Mohanan, prompting demands from the ruling Congress for a CBI probe.

Leaders of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) that T.P. Chandrasekharan, the slain rebel, had floated in 2009 blamed Mohanan’s acquittal on alleged complicity between a section of the ruling Congress and the CPM.

“We are not completely satisfied and will go ahead with the appeal. We still believe that this was done at the instance of the party’s senior leadership,” Chandrasekharan’s widow K.K. Rema told reporters.

She was reacting to comments by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who saw the verdict as a clean chit for the party. “A blatant attempt to pin the blame on the CPM has failed,” Vijayan said in Delhi.

He declined comment when asked about Ramachandran, Trouser Manojan and P.K. Kunhanandan. All three who were closely associated with the party were found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy.

Chandrasekharan, who was popularly known as TP, was on his way back home on May 4, 2012, when he was waylaid. The assailants, who were in an Innova, hurled bombs at TP before attacking him with sharp-edged weapons. His body had 51 cut wounds, revealing the extent of the brutality.

Chandrasekharan, a former CPM leader in Onchiyam in Palakkad district, had dared the Marxists by launching his new group in what was a CPM stronghold. According to the prosecution, Chandrasekharan had invited the CPM’s wrath after his party tasted success in the local polls.

The murder had set off a crisis within the state CPM, firmly controlled by Vijayan, with senior leaders like V.S. Achuthanandan critical of the party’s alleged role. The former chief minister said he would react only after studying the judgment.

The others found guilty by the court of additional sessions judge R. Narayana Pisharadi are N.K. Sunil Kumar alias Kodi Suni, M.C. Anoop, Kirmani Manoj, T.K. Rajeesh, K.K. Mohammed Shafi, Annan Shijith, K. Shinoj, P.V. Rafeeque and M.K. Pradeepan alias Lambu. Twenty suspects were set free in September 2013 after over 50 of the 164 prosecution witnesses turned hostile.

Doubts that witnesses could turnhostile had strengthened recently after a sting by a TV channel showed some of the accused using smartphones inside the Kozhikode jail where they were lodged. Police have registered a case in this connection and are investigating if the accused had contacted any of these witnesses.

There had been allegations that the conspiracy was never fully probed. Rumours were rife that the CPM had struck a deal with a section of the ruling Congress, an allegation that prompted Union minister of state for home Mullappally Ramachandran, who is from Kerala, to demand a CBI probe.

Kerala home minister Ramesh Chennithala said the state government would seek legal advice on the possibility of a CBI probe into the conspiracy angle.