Tamil Nadu

Gokulraj murder case | Caste outfit founder Yuvaraj awarded triple life term

S. Yuvaraj was sentenced on three counts.

S. Yuvaraj was sentenced on three counts. | Photo Credit: G. MOORTHY

The special court for cases booked under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act here on Tuesday sentenced Theeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai founder S. Yuvaraj to triple life imprisonment in the 2015 murder of V. Gokulraj, an engineering graduate belonging to the Scheduled Caste in Namakkal district.

The body of Gokulraj was found, with his head severed, near the rail track in Pallipalayam in Namakkal district. He was abducted and murdered by members of the caste outfit after he was found visiting a temple with a girl belonging to an intermediate community.

III Additional District Judge T. Sampathkumar, who held 10 accused persons guilty on Saturday last, sentenced Yuvaraj to life imprisonment on three counts. The co-convicts, P. Arun; V. Sivakumar; R. Sathiskumar; S. Ragu; D. Ranjith; and D. Selvaraj, were sentenced to double life imprisonment. S. Chandrasekaran, M. Prabhu and P. Giridhar were sentenced to life imprisonment. 

The judge told the convicts that they were sentenced to life imprisonment “till death”. They were convicted for the offences under the Indian Penal Code, including murder, abducting in order to murder and criminal conspiracy. The life sentences would run concurrently.

The convicts were produced before the court for the hearing on the quantum of the sentence. They claimed that they did not commit the offence. 

Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani B. Mohan submitted that it was a case of a cold-blooded and planned murder. 

The members of the outfit wanted to send out a message. The victim belonged to a vulnerable section, and Gokulraj sitting and chatting with a girl of an intermediate community itself was not bearable to them. The manner in which Gokulraj was executed proved this was not only a crime against Gokulraj but against society, he submitted. 

Meanwhile, the prime accused, Yuvaraj, distributed a few photographs of the body of Gokulraj lying on the rail track and some documents to media persons on the Madurai District Court premises while he was brought there to be produced before the special court. He said he would prefer an appeal against the judgment.

On Saturday, the special court acquitted five others: V. Sankar; S. Arul Senthil; P. Selvakumar; S. Thangadurai; and P. Suresh. Amudharasu, an accused who was secured later, was facing trial in Namakkal. Another accused person, Jothimani, died.

In 2020, the Supreme Court expressed shock over the killing while refusing to consider the bail plea of Yuvaraj. The court wondered how such an incident of honour killing had taken place in Tamil Nadu.

The trial was transferred to the special court in Madurai from the Principal District and Sessions Court, Namakkal, on a direction from the Madras High Court.

V. Chitra, mother of Gokulraj, apprehended that she might not get justice if the trial continued in Namakkal and approached the High Court seeking the transfer of the case. She complained that the accused persons were threatening the witnesses, who, as a result, were turning hostile.

The then Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vishnu Priya, who was investigating the case, died by suicide (she left a note saying her death should not be linked to the case).

The CB-CID then took over the probe. Yuvaraj has several cases pending against him in various courts in the State. In the Gokulraj case, he was on the run for over 100 days before he surrendered.

Addressing media persons on the district court premises, Mr. Mohan said he welcomed the verdict. Ms. Chitra said that though she expected the “highest punishment” for the convicts, she was satisfied with the life term imposed on them. However, she would appeal against the acquittal of five others.

Members of various outfits, including those of the VCK, hailed the verdict by bursting crackers and distributing sweets.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2022 12:29:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/gokulraj-murder-case-caste-outfit-founder-yuvaraj-awarded-triple-life-term/article65205306.ece