Forty years after the encounter death of Naxal leader A Varghese in the Waynad forests, a court in Kerala [ Images ], Wednesday, found he had been 'brutally killed', and convicted former inspector general of police K Lakshmana, in the case while acquitting ex director general of police P Vijayan.
Delivering the judgment, the Central Bureau of Investigation's Special court judge, S Vijay Kumar, said the theory that Varghese died in a police encounter was 'an advance defence moulded as a pretext to commit the crime... No more evidence is needed, it is proved beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that Varghese who was caught hold of alive, was brutally killed by the first accused who was a stooge at the hands of Lakshmana who on his order brought about his plan'. Lakshmana (74) and Vijayan (84), who was in a wheelchair, were present in court with their family members as the judgment was read out.
Vijayan, who was given the benefit of doubt, said he was happy with the verdict. Lakshmana has been taken to the Ernakulam sub jail. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced Thursday.
Lakshmana was also an accused in the infamous Rajan murder case, relating to the death of the Calicut Regional engineering college student who disappeared after being taken into custody by police for suspected links with Naxals on March 1, 1976. He was taken to Kakkayam camp and never heard of again. Lakshmana was later acquitted in the case.
After Emergency had been lifted, Rajan's father Prof T V Eachara Warrier fought a long, legal battle against the establishment to bring to light the facts behind the disappearance of his son and to expose the atrocities committed during the Emergency.
Warrier filed a habeas corpus petition in the Kerala high court seeking direction to the police to produce his son. Subsequent investigation found that Rajan had indeed been taken into custody and perhaps died in police custody.
A police investigating team was constituted and charges were laid against seven accused, including Lakshmana and then chief of crime branch wing of Kerala police DIG Jayarama Padikkal.
On the plea by the accused in the Supreme Court that they will not get justice in Kerala, the case was shifted to the Coimbatore sessions court on the direction of the SC and except for three accused, all the others, including Lakshmana were acquitted.
Later, the Madras high court acquitted the three accused as well. Varghese was gunned downed by the police in cold blood in the Thiruvenelli forests in Kerala's Wayanad district on February 18, 1970. The death was described as an 'encounter' killing.
Judge S Vijay Kumar said the first accused in the case, late CRPF constable P Ramachandran Nair had committed the act of murder on the command of Lakshmana, the second accused, who was then deputy superintendent of police. The judge convicted Lakshmana under Section 302 read with sect 34 of Indian Penal Code.
The case received wide media attention a few years ago after Ramachandran Nair confessed in 1998 that he had shot Varghese at the behest of his superior officers Vijayan and Lakshmana..