They are yet to get any communication from jail

Amid rumours of preparations for the hanging of four associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan at Hindalaga in Belgaum, the family members remain oblivious of any development.

Gnanaprakash, Bilavendran, Simon and Meesekara Madaiah were awarded life sentence by the designated TADA court in Mysore in September 2001 for their alleged involvement in the Palar blast case in which 22 people, mainly policemen, were killed in a landmine explosion. But the life sentence was enhanced to capital punishment by the Supreme Court in 2004. The four had filed a mercy petition before the President who rejected it last week.

Mathews Philip, executive director, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), told The Hindu that the family members had been not been kept informed even as SICHREM lawyers were drafting a petition to file it in the High Court seeking a judicial review of the case. “Our legal team visited the jail authorities in Belgaum and wanted to submit a letter that a petition was being filed in the High Court on Monday and hence the execution should not be carried out till then. But the jail authorities refused to accept the letter,” Mr. Philip said.

“But what is worrying is that they did not allow our lawyers to visit any of the condemned prisoners and we are concerned because the norm is not to allow any visitor 24 hours before the execution is carried out. Hence we also suspect that they are preparing to hang them,” he added.

Gabriel, a relative of Bilavendran, said that in the absence of any official communiqué or information Bilavendran’s sisters Antonyamma, Mary and Elizabeth were worried as people were making inquiries based on media reports. On learning that the hanging was slated for Sunday as speculated late on Saturday, they went into a state of mourning, he said.

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