With a CBI Special Court sentencing the former Inspector-General of Police, K. Lakshmana, to life imprisonment in the case relating to the killing of naxalite leader A. Varghese, justice has triumphed after 40 long years. The Kerala police eliminated Varghese in a staged encounter in the Wayanad forest. Lakshmana, then DSP, was the prime architect of the encounter. It was he who ordered constable P. Ramachandran Nair to shoot Varghese. One wonders whether Lakshmana could have taken the decision without informing his immediate superior. Nair who spilled the beans after 28 years talked about the active part played by the then SP, K.P. Vijayan, who later became the DGP of Kerala. His acquittal for lack of evidence has disappointed many.
Capt. T. Raju (retd.),
Varghese was killed in cold blood on the orders of the then SP and DSP. The settled principle in law is that nobody should take the law into his own hands and nobody should be punished without being given an opportunity to defend himself. In the instant case, jungle law was imposed on a youth who was waging a political struggle, albeit in a deviant way. That was no justification for the officers vested with the authority to maintain law and order to decide on the punishment and execute it.
The fact that Varghese was caught alive and was unarmed raises the gravity of the offence. The accused deserve the maximum punishment under the law.
The Varghese murder case should act as a deterrent for the police force. Forty years ago, everyone in Kerala was made to believe that Varghese was a petty thug who was shot dead in an encounter. The police constable who shot him exposed the murder, which gave an insight into what was going on in the political corridors at that time. All those responsible for the encounter, including the political leadership of the time, should be made accountable. One also hopes justice will be done in the custodial death of Rajan, which remains unsolved till date.
The sentencing of the 74-year-old former Inspector General is sure to demoralise the security forces engaged in anti-extremist operations. While the police are bound by the law and human rights, the extremists are a law unto themselves. It is an unfair game.
If the police perform their duties as per the rule book, half of the country would have been under the sway of militant elements.
P.V. Ramana Rao,