They seek his guidance to take the legal route to save them

Family members of forest brigand Veerappan’s three associates, who were sentenced to death in the 1993 Palar landmine blast case, met general secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Vaiko at Chennimalai in the district on Thursday and sought his help to launch a legal battle to save them from execution.

The plea for help came in the wake of the mercy plea of the four being turned down by President Pranab Mukherjee. The meeting took place at a house in Chennimalai after Vaiko addressed a group of farmers on the adverse impact of the Gas Authority of India Limited's gas pipeline project. “I was told about the arrival of the families only after the meeting and they were in tears when I met them,” Mr. Vaiko said.

Simon, Gnanaprakash, Madaiah and Bilavendra were convicted of killing 22 persons in the landmine blast. They have been in the Hindalga Central Jail in Belgaum since 2004. Gnanaprakash’s wife Selvamary and his brother Innasimuthu, Bilavendra’s wife Kamala Mary and his daughter Joswin Mary, and Simon’s brother Jayaraj met the MDMK leader and sought his help. The families of the three death row convicts came from Kollegal in Karnataka to meet Mr. Vaiko.

“I shared their concern and sorrow. I consoled the families and assured them that I will do my best to help them. I heard that Mumbai-based lawyer and campaigner against death penalty Yug Mohit Chaudhry is taking up the case,” Mr. Vaiko said, adding that he was totally against the death penalty.

“The four persons were innocent. They were not directly involved in the incident. A few of them had not even met Veerappan. Their death sentences should have been commuted,” he said.

Some young lawyers from New Delhi, who had been fighting against capital punishment, have also taken up this issue, he said.

The family members left home immediately after meeting the MDMK leader.

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