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Life terms in blow to CPM

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 28: A Kerala court today handed life terms to 11 men, including three local-level CPM leaders, for the May 2012 lynching of a party rebel and struck the Marxists another blow by describing the crime as a political murder.

The CPM, faced with speculation that its leaders had ordered the murder of T.P. Chandrasekharan, has been arguing that the crime was the result of personal rivalries.

But additional sessions judge R. Narayana Pisharadi observed that political differences had spurred the killing of the former Palakkad CPM leader who had floated the Revolutionary Marxist Party in 2009 in a Marxist stronghold.

This comes as a dampener for the CPM, which had held the previous acquittal of several prominent leaders, including Kozhikode district committee member P. Mohanan, as proof that none of its senior leaders was involved.

Chandrasekharan was the leader of a growing party and the killers were merely tools in the hands of political rivals, the court today said without naming anyone.

The order also touched on the brutality of the crime: TP’s body bore 51 injuries, with the police claiming the killers had landed repeated blows on the same wounds.

Chandrasekharan’s wife K.K. Rema has threatened an indefinite fast from February 5 unless a CBI probe is ordered to unearth the “larger conspiracy’’ --- a demand on which the state is taking legal opinion, the Kerala home minister said.

The CPM today said it would appeal on behalf of some of the convicts who it claimed had been falsely implicated, but did not name them.

The acquittals and convictions had come last Wednesday. Seven of the accused have been convicted of being part of the hit squad that hacked Chandrasekharan to death.

K.C. Ramachandran, P.K. Kunjananthan and Manojan aka “Trouser Manoj” - all local CPM leaders in Kannur and Kozhikode districts --- and another accused, P.V. Rafeeque, have been held guilty of conspiracy.

A 12th convict, M.V. Pradeepan aka Lambu Pradeepan, has been handed a three-year term.

Many CPM leaders, activists and supporters had been arrested after the murder, pushing the party on the defensive, till the trial court handed out a host of acquittals.

Over 50 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile, triggering allegations of collusion between the ruling Congress and the CPM.

This suspicion partly underlay the demands for a CBI probe from Rema as well as some Congress insiders such as the Union minister of state for home, Mullappally Ramachandran.

The seven convicted of carrying out the murder are M.C. Anoop, Kirmani Manoj, N.K. Sunil Kumar aka Kodi Suni, T.K. Rajeesh, Mohammed Shafi, S. Sijith aka Annan and K. Shinoj. They have all been fined Rs 50,000.

The three CPM leaders and Rafeeque have to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each while Pradeepan has to pay Rs 25,000.