Thirteen convicts in the Melavalavu massacre case, in which six persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, including Melavalavu panchayat president Murugesan, were hacked to death in 1996, were released from the Madurai Central Prison on Saturday.
Police sources said with this, all the 16 convicts — all of whom are caste Hindus — in the sensational murder case have been released.
Another convict, Jothi, died in prison in 2010.
The police identified the convicts, released in connection with MGR birth centenary celebrations on account of good conduct, as U. Ponnaiah, K. Manikandan, A. Andichamy, V. Manoharan, N. Renganathan, N. Sakkaramoorthy, M. Alagu, K. Rajendran, P. Sekar, A. Chokkanathan, P. Selvam, P. Chinnaodungan and S. Ramar.
The caste Hindus were agitated after the then district administration chose to reserve the post of Melavalavu panchayat president for SCs.
The elected members were returning to Melavalavu from Madurai when an armed gang brutally murdered them in a bus near Sennagarampatti junction near Melavalavu.
While 44 accused were chargesheeted, 17 of them were given life sentence which was upheld by the High Court.
Taking strong exception to the release of the convicts, VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan condemned the State government for its “anti-Dalit move”.