Eleven persons, three of them local Communist Party of India-Marxist functionaries, were sentenced to life imprisonment in the sensational T P Chandrasekharan murder case by a special court in Kozhikode on Tuesday.
Eight of them were members of the gang that hacked to death Marxist rebel Chandrasekharan while three others were CPM activists who were found to have plotted the murder.
One of the 12 accused found guilty by the Special Judge R Narayayana Pisharadi was awarded three years' imprisonment.
The verdict came as an indictment for the CPM as the judge observed that the motive of the crime was political and not personal enmity.
When the court pronounced the conviction in the case last week, the CPM had taken the judgement as a relief for the party as several of its local functionaries who figured as accused were acquitted.
The party activists sentenced to life imprisonment were P K Kunhanandan, a committee member from Panur in Kannur district, K C Ramachandran, a local committee secretary and Manoj, a branch secretary.
Chandrasekharan, a former CPM wholetimer from the red bastion Onjiyam near Vatakara in north Kerala, was hacked to death by an eight-member gang on May 4, 2012.
The killer gang had came by a hired car and brutally hacked to death the target by inflicting 51 cuts on his body.
Chandrasekharan had left the party a few years back over differences with the leadership and floated a parallel outfit called Revolutionary Marxist Party.
The murder had cast a shadow on the CPM in state firmly controlled by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan with not only rival parties but senior leaders like V S Achuthanandan using it as a weapon to attack internal foes.
Reacting to the sentence, Chandrasekharan's widow K K Rema said it came as relief to a great extent as it laid bare the CPM's involvement in the conspiracy to annihilate her husband.
The murder had not only put the Kerala CPI-M on the defensive for long but also sharpened the factionalism in the party between the state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and veteran leader and former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.
Causing annoyance to the party leadership, the nonagenarian leader had then called on the family members of Chandrasekharan and shared their sorrow.
Despite strong resentments voiced by the party, he had also issued statements time and again casting the party leadership in the shadow of suspicion over the murder.
Significantly, just a couple of days back the CPM state committee had virtually admonished him for backing the demand of Chandrasekharan's widow for a CBI probe to unearth the "conspiracy" behind the murder of her husband.