The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Death-row message to political vandals

Chennai, Feb. 16: A Tamil Nadu court today put on notice all hooligans who run riot using political activism as a fig leaf, handing death to three ADMK members convicted of burning three innocent college girls to death.

The Salem court sentenced Nedunchezhian, Ravindran and Muniyappan to death by hanging for setting a bus full of college students in Dharmapuri on fire to protest party chief Jayalalithaa’s conviction in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case in 2000.

Most students jumped out of the burning bus. Hemalatha, Kokilavani and Gayathri weren’t able to.

The exemplary verdict —possibly the first ever — comes as a warning to political parties that they “can no longer get away with the culture of letting loose violence and vandalism”.

The CPM and Trinamul Congress, which think nothing of unleashing their cadre on streets or harassing civilians during the serial bandhs in Bengal, would do well to take note.

While an office-goer in north Bengal died after being hit by a stone thrown by a bandh supporter during the December 1 Trinamul bandh, the GM of a Durgapur steel plant lost a tooth after being beaten up during the December 14 Citu bandh.

Today’s verdict came on a plea by special public prosecutor R. Srinivasan that the heinous crime of burning three students alive be treated as a “rarest of rare case”.

Socio-political analyst M.S.S. Pandian said it was a “very resounding and significant verdict” as politicians “have never paid” for mindless violence against people. “This is the first verdict that has clearly punished them.”

The parents of the girls were unanimous that it was “a fitting punishment”. None should dare to repeat what was done to our daughters and such despicable acts should not happen anywhere, they said.

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