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Dharmapuri bus burning: 3 ADMK men guilty
February 15, 2007 13:06 IST
Last Updated: February 15, 2007 14:30 IST
Three All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam men were found guilty of murder in the Dharmapuri bus burning in February 2000, when three girl students were charred to death.
First Additional Sessions Judge D Krishnaraja pronounced Nedu alias Nedunchezhiyan, the then secretary of the Dharmapuri town AIADMK unit, Madhu alias Ravichandran, the then town MGR forum functionary, and P Muniappan, a former panchayat president, guilty of murder and attempt to murder.
After the three pleaded innocence, the judge ordered the cancellation of their bail and directed the police to take them into custody.
Krishnaraja held 25 other accused guilty of rioting and wrongful confinement.
Two accused -- S Palanisamy and K Raju -- were acquitted.
There were a total of 31 accused in the case but one of them had died during the trial. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on Friday.
The three girl students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, were burnt alive on February 2, 2000 when their college bus was set ablaze by unidentified persons, near Elakiyampatti in Dharmapuri following the conviction of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case.
The case was initially heard by a court in Krishnagiri but the Madras high court transferred it to Salem during the previous AIADMK regime.
The high court also appointed senior advocate R Srinivasan as the special public prosecutor but the then government took over 15 months to issue the notification on it.
A total of 123 prosecution witnesses and two court witnesses, including the then TNAU vice-chancellor and the Dharmapuri collector were examined.
The students of the university were on a study tour to a government farm in Dharmapuri and their bus was stopped and burnt, even as the three girls were inside.
The bus was burnt despite plea by the students and teachers not to harm innocent students.
The gory incident had led to protests among the student community all over the state then.