News: Activists seek release of forest brigand Veerappan’s wife

CHENNAI: A group of civil rights activists have demanded the release of forest brigand Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi, who has been lodged in a
prison in Mysore for the past four months in connection with cases in which trials have already been completed.

The Karnataka police had arrested Muthulakshmi on the night of December 25 last year at her residence in Mettur in Tamil Nadu based on a warrant issued by Chamrajnagar principal and session judge. Four others Srinivasan, Ponnusamy, Paswa and Tailor Mani were also arrested in the subsequent days. All of them are now in the Mysore central jail.

The police have booked cases under the TADA, IPC, Indian Explosives Act and Indian Arms Act against them alleging that they were involved in the murder of forest officer Srinivasan (1991), Sakheel Ahmed (1992), superintendent of police Gopal Hosur (1993) and the Palar blast case (1993).

A nine-member fact-finding team comprising activists representing different human rights groups, including professor A Marx and G Sugumaran, met Muthulakshmi in jail on April 22.

The team has pointed out that trial in all these cases has already been completed. While Veerappan was killed by the STF, 109 accused were acquitted and 8 convicted in these cases. “For the past 18 years and during the trial of the above cases, the Karnataka police never made any efforts to bring Muthulakshmi to face trial, even though they often intimidated her that there was a warrant pending against her. Suddenly in December last they?arrested her and implicated her in these four cases and even invoked the repealed draconian TADA against her,” the team said in its report.

According to the activists, the Karnataka police have arrested Muthulakshmi only because she was actively involved in demanding compensation for victims of excesses committed by the personnel of the special task forces, who were hunting for Veerappan.

Taking these facts into account, the activists demanded the immediate release of Muthulakshmi and four others.

Times of India / 24.04.2009.

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