“My father was not associated with Veerappan, he was framed”

The Supreme Court’s stay on the execution of forest brigand Veerappan’s four aides till Wednesday has come as a relief to the family members of Bilavendran, one of the four.

Bilavendran’s daughter Josephine told The Hindu the news had come as a relief. She expressed the hope that her father would be released as she believed he was innocent and was framed.

“We have spent harrowing time all these years; my father had no association with Veerappan. We come from a well-to-do family and my grandfather Morris Gounder was an elected representative, while my father has helped countless people by giving them employment on the farmland. We have about 32 acres and why would any one dump all these to lead a life of a fugitive with a brigand in the forests,” she asked.

Ms. Josephine was speaking from a hospital where her mother, Kamala Mary, was admitted when the news of the President rejecting the mercy petition broke out.

“My mother saw my father more than a year ago and has been kept in the dark of the latest developments given her medical condition,” Ms. Jospehine said. “We visited him at Belgaum last Monday and are hopeful of his release.”

Describing her father’s arrest and subsequent conviction as devastating, Ms. Josephine said Bilavendran was taken away 21 years ago by the police when she was around 10 years old and had to go through a harrowing time.

Meanwhile, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has described the rejection of the mercy petition as unfortunate. It said at the current rate of rejections “India can look forward to a string of serial hangings this year itself.”

It said that all the four convicts were senior citizens in the age group of 60 to 72 and had been in jail for the last 18 years. PUCL general secretary Mr. Lakshminarayana said the same Supreme Court had acquitted them in other TADA cases which were part of the same set of cases in which the four got death sentence.

The basis of the criminal jurisprudence system in India is the possibility of reform of prisoners and not retributive justice, according to PUCL.

Our Belgaum Special Correspondent reports:

An eerie silence prevailed at the Hindalga Central Prison where the four Veerappan associates have remained incarcerated since 2004.

But sources said preparations to carry out execution of the four convicts were on, in the event the apex court turned down the plea to commute their death penalty.

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