Chairman of the Punalur Municipal Council and CPI(M) leader M.A. Rajagopal has been sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000 on Wednesday by K.K. Balakrishnan, Judge of the Kollam Additional District and Sessions Court-2 on being found guilty in the June 2, 2002 Rajesh murder case.
Seven persons were charged in the case and Rajagopal was listed accused number one. Accused number three Suresh Kumar alias Mariappan was also awarded the same sentence by the Judge. The remaining five were acquitted. Apart from the lifer, the two convicted were also convicted to six years and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each under Sections 324 and 326 of the Indian Penal Code.
Mr. Balakrishnan said in the verdict that the two could however undergo the sentence concurrently. He found both guilty during the morning session of the court and pronounced the punishment during the afternoon session. The murdered Rajesh was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Tension prevailed at the court premises when CPI(M) supporters and RSS activists attended in full strength to hear the verdict. But a strong presence of the police prevented untoward incidents. As the police took the two convicted into a waiting van, CPI(M) activists present in the area raised slogans supporting them.
According to the prosecution, Rajesh was attacked with bombs by the accused persons near the Sivan Kovil at Punalur on the night of June 2, 2002. Three bombs hurled at Rajesh exploded shattering his skull and killing him on the spot. Two other RSS activists present with him, Biju and Shinu suffered hearing impairment.
The prosecution version is that it was a retaliatory attack on Rajesh. Earlier, on March 13, 2002, Rajesh had led a gang attack on Mariappan. Rajagopal was councillor of the College Ward in the Punalur Municipal Council at the time of the attack on Rajesh. He was made chairman of the council a year ago as per an understanding in the Left Democratic Front.
Those acquitted are Biju, the present Kollam district president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, Vijayan, Rajashekaran Pillai, Sajikumar and Murugan, all CPI(M) activists. G. Manikantan Pillai was the Special Public Prosecutor in the case.