He meets family members of Veerappan’s associates and assures support

CPI national secretary D. Raja on Sunday met the family members of the four associates of Veerappan, who were sentenced to death in the 1993 Palar landmine blast case, and assured them that his party would fight along with them to secure commutation of their sentence.

Stating that capital punishment was not an effective solution to reduce crime, the CPI leader urged the Union government to abolish it. “We should initiate positive efforts and bring in police, prison and judicial reforms to fight crimes. Death penalty is certainly not a solution,” he said.

The four associates of Veerappan — Simon, Gnanaprakash, Madaiah and Bilavendra — were convicted of killing 22 persons in the landmine blast. Gnanaprakash’s wife Selvamary, daughter Benita Mary and his brother Anthonysamy, Bilavendra’s son Selva Joseph Victor, Simon’s brother Jayaraj, Madaiah's wife Thangamma and his close relative S. Deepa met the CPI leader.

Earlier, Mr. Raja addressed a conference organised by the Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Association here to demand justice for victims of alleged atrocities by the Special Task Force that hunted Veerappan for many years. The State government should form a committee to identify all those left out of the list of victims of alleged atrocities. A number of poor and innocent families that suffered the atrocities of the STF had not been identified and not provided compensation when the matter was investigated earlier.

Representatives from the human rights organizations and tribal welfare associations should be included as members of the committee.

Earlier, addressing the conference, Thangamma and Deepa broke down and remained distraught while talking about Madaiah.

“They (STF personnel) killed my father (Munian) and my uncle,” Deepa alleged. “Now he (Madaiah) is also going to leave us. I was a two-year-old when he was arrested by the STF police and I barely remember his face. My children want to see him. Please help us,” she appealed.

Families of the four associates wanted the death sentences to be commuted. “My husband never met Veerappan. He was an innocent farmer,” said Selvamary, wife of Gnanaprakash.

A few victims of alleged atrocities committed by the STF also spoke at the meeting.

Plea for special probe

Henri Tiphagne of People's Watch demanded a special investigation into the alleged atrocities and action against the STF personnel who committed them. “Only 89 affected persons have received the compensation. But more than 1,000 persons fell victims to the atrocities committed by the STF personnel,” he said.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National