Special Correspondent

THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has expressed regret for having caused anguish to the family of slain National Security Guard commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan and others on account of a remark of his and expressed regret. The remark had touched off a furore across the country.

In a written statement released at a news conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Achuthanandan said he was clarifying matters as the Opposition was trying to distort facts.

His interaction with the media came shortly after the Opposition United Democratic Front members brought proceedings of the State Assembly to a halt over the issue.

“I feel extremely sorry for the anguish my remark had caused to Sri Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s family and others, and I express regret for the same,” he said in the statement chronicling the happenings since November 28 and giving his version of the events. Although he had read out mostly from the same prepared statement earlier in the House, he appeared to have given up before reaching the last paragraph where the expression of regret figured.

Mr. Achuthanandan said he and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visited Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s home because of their deep respect for the valiant soldier and the full realisation that his martyrdom was for the country. When they reached there, Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s father was seen to be in a fit of rage. “We saw Mr. Unnikrishnan’s anger only as the state of mind of a father who had lost his only son,” he said.

The Chief Minister said he and Mr. Balakrishnan went to Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s home despite all provocations, met his mother and other relatives and garlanded his photograph before returning. The following day, a news channel plucked a word he had used in an interview given to them out of context and spread it with ‘ulterior motives.’ “This was most regrettable,” Mr. Achuthanandan said.

Rs. 15 lakh ex gratia

PTI reports:

The Kerala government on Wednesday announced a solatium of Rs.15 lakh for the family of Sandeep Unnikrishnan. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said this after a Cabinet meeting.

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