Tamil Nadu

Special court convicts 11 TNLA members in Andimadam case

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The gang raided the police station in 1997, took away arms

A special court in Poonamallee on Friday convicted 11 members of a banned outfit called Tamilnadu Liberation Army (TNLA), including ‘Radio’ Venkatesan and Senguttuvan alias Maran, for their role in attacking Andimadam Police Station, then in Perambalur district in 1997 and looting arms and ammunitions. They were sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

According to the prosecution, ‘Q’ branch police, 14 suspects including Sundaram alias Anbazhagan, one of the ideologues of the naxal movement and founder member of TNLA, Venkatesan alias ‘Radio’ Venkatesan, Senguttuvan alias Maran, and Ponnivalvan and Veeraiah alias Rathinam, who turned approver were the members of TNLA, an underground organisation. Although the TNLA was not a banned organisation at the time of commission of offence, it was declared a terrorist organisation by the Government of India under the provisions of Unlawful Activities(Prevention)Act, 1967 with effect from 2001.

The TNLA not only believed in a revolution led by peasants and workers in Tamil Nadu but wanted to liberate the State from the Indian Union. To achieve their common objective, the outfit adopted the path of armed struggle. The suspects frequently met at Siramelkudi, Alankudi and other places and hatched a plan to attack Andimadam Police station near Jayamkondam.

SI assaulted

The gang members, wielding lethal weapons, barged into the police station at around 11.30 p.m. on July 13, 1997 when it was manned by a sub-inspector and a constable. The sub-inspector was threatened at gun point and asked to hand over all the weapons in the station. The gang beat up the SI and broke open the weapon box. Four 401 muskets, rifles, two revolvers, 150 rounds of cartridges and one VHP set were looted from the police station. Fifteen suspects were arrested and one turned approver.

Sundaram alias Anbazhagan and two others died during pendency of trial.

Special Public Prosecutor N. Vijayaraj said, “Ten charges were framed against them for offences, including criminal conspiracy, rioting armed with deadly weapons, trespass, dacoity and attempt to murder. We examined 72 witnesses. 101 documents and 67 material objects were examined.”

Special judge P. Chenthoorpandi for exclusive trial of bomb blast cases, Poonamallee, on Friday pronounced the verdict in the case convicting them for offences and held the prosecution has clearly proved all charges against them beyond reasonable doubts.

They were given maximum punishment of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment for criminal conspiracy besides imposing fines on them.

The TNLA

The militant group came to the notice of the police in February 1986 when it attempted to blast the Cauvery overbridge at Thiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district on the eve of the visit of the late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Subsequently, the group was involved in a series of murders, bank robberies and raids on police stations, and in blasting a bridge near Ariyalur, resulting in the derailment of the Rockfort Express in March 1987. 27 persons died then.

It may be recalled that forest brigand Veerappan and TNLAwere connected. When he abducted Kannada actor Rajkumar, Veerappan demanded the release of five members of TNLA from prisons in exchange for release of Rajkumar.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 7:57:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/special-court-convicts-11-tnla-members-in-andimadam-case/article30119584.ece

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