Acquittal of 20 of 56 accused in Onchiyam murder case

The trial court verdict acquitting 20 of the 56 accused in the T.P. Chandrasekharan murder case has apparently given a new twist to Congress factionalism, with the ‘I’ faction coming out openly against Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan for his alleged failure in handling the case properly.

The criticism has come mainly from ‘I’ faction leaders in the Malabar. K. Sudhakaran, N. Subramanian, and K. Muraleedharan all happen to be from Malabar, where the Congress is involved in direct electoral contests with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in a majority of the constituencies. Though Mr. Muraleedharan now represents Vattiyurkavu (Thiruvananthapuram district) in the Assembly, he continues to have his links with Kozhikode, prompting him to make candid statements on the outcome of the trial court proceedings.

Mr. Muraleedharan said the verdict could be seen as a major setback for the Congress and the United Democratic Front, which have now been deprived of their platform against the brand of political violence perpetrated by the CPI(M). He blamed the Home Department for its failure to prevent witnesses from turning hostile, which in a way has weakened the government stand in the case. Mr. Sudhakaran also did not spare the Home Minister and the government in his remarks.

In Kottayam, the Home Minister tried to deflect the spate of charges against him by debunking the attempts to link the issue to factional politics in the Congress. He pointed out that Special Public Prosecutor C.K. Sreedharan belonged to the ‘I’ faction, but that did not prevent the government from utilising his services as SPP. “The government continues to have confidence in Mr. Sreedharan,” he said.

Minister for Information and Public Relations K.C. Joseph also defended the government stand, maintaining that the acquittal would in no way weaken the case.

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