Monday, April 12, 2010

40 years on, cops face heat for killing Maoist

2010-04-13 10:30:00

Forty years after a Maoist leader was shot dead in an alleged shootout, a Kerala court is examining witnesses to ascertain the truth. At the centre of it lies the statement of a trooper that he shot the rebel - who was blindfolded and tied to a tree - at the behest of senior police officers.

According to police, Varghese, the Maoist leader, was shot dead in a gunfight on Feb 18, 1970, in the deep forests of Thirunelli in Kerala's Wayand district. He had allegedly fired at a superintendent of police-rank officer and was gunned down in retaliatory fire.

The case is being heard in a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court.

In a twist to the tale, a Central Reserve Police Force trooper, P. Ramachandran Nair, approached the Kerala High Court in 1999 confessing that he had shot Varghese in cold blood under the orders of then inspector general of police (IGP) B. Vijayan and K. Lakshmana, a deputy superintendent of police.

Vijayan retired as state director general of police and Lakshmana as an IGP. Nair himself died in 2006.

The court ordered a CBI probe into the incident. In 2002, the CBI chargesheeted the two former officers and Nair for Varghese's murder.

A former Maoist and now a social activist, Grow Vasu, who appeared before the CBI court here last week, has testified that Nair had told him about the killing in 1977.

'Nair said he committed the crime after life threats from Vijayan and Lakshmana,' said Vasu.

'(The blindfolded) Varghese told Nair to alert him before firing so that he could shout slogans so that many revolutionaries could come up from his blood.'

Another witness, then sub-inspector C.K. Mohammed posted in Manthawady in Wayanad, said, 'I do not know anything about Nair killing Varghese at the instance of the top police officials.'

Among others who have testified include Varghese's two brothers and Nair's wife.

The plea of Vijayan and Lakshmana to discharge them from the case was rejected by the court a few years ago.

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