The Kerala government's prison department had plans to remit sentences of 1911 convicts on 1 November 2016, and this list shockingly included the names of convicts in high profile and sensitive cases.
In an RTI reply to online portal Marunadan Malayali, authorities from Poojappura prison have revealed that 11 convicts in TP Chandrasekharan murder case were set to receive sentence remission from the state government.
The list also included business tycoon Mohammed Nisham, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2016 for killing a security guard named Chandrabose in a fit of rage.
The RTI reply says that the list of convicts to be released contains the names of 11 persons convicted for the murder of TP Chandrasekharan, including KC Ramachandran, Kunjananthan, Sijith, Manoj, Rafeeq, Anoop, Manoj Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Rajeesh, Muhammad Shafi and Shinoj.
Of the 11, three were members of the CPI(M). P K Kunhanandan, was a committee member from Panur in Kannur district, K C Ramachandran, a local committee secretary and Manoj, a branch secretary.
They were sentenced to life in January 2014, two years after Chandrashekharan, who founded Revolutionary Marxist Party – a breakaway group of the CPI (M), was murdered.
The Kerala Government's Controversial Decision
As part of the celebrations in connection with the 60th formation year of the state on 1 November, the state government had decided to remit the sentences of some prisoners. The prisons department had forwarded a list of convicts eligible to get their sentences remitted.
A list that had 1850 names was then forwarded to Governor P Sathasivam for approval, but was sent back in February this year, seeking clarification on the methodology of selecting the names.
This had sparked severe criticism from opposition parties, who claimed that the list of convicts contained the names of criminals convicted for heinous crimes like rape and murder, including that of 11 persons convicted in the controversial TP Chandrasekharan murder case.
The allegations forced Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's CPI (M)-led LDF government to say that they were only remitting and not releasing the prisoners.
The chief minister also rubbished allegations that the list contained the names of persons convicted for TP Chandrasekharan murder case.
"I don't think Chandrashekharan murder convicts are included in this list. But I can say that the convicts in the case have not yet completed 14 years of sentence, then how will they even be eligible to be included in the list?" Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan questioned the Opposition who raised the matter in the assembly on 28 February.
It is unclear which 61 names from the Prison Department’s recommendation were not sent to the Governor, and whether that included the names of TP’s and Chandrabose’s killers.
What Else Does the RTI Reply Say?
The prison department has confirmed that a list of 1911 convicts had been approved by the state government.
Karanavar murder case convict Sherin, Aprani Krishnakumar murder case convict Om Prakash, Kalluvathikkal case convicts and Muhammad Nisham, convicted in the Chandrabose murder case are also part of the list.
The RTI reply also reveals that Mohammed Nisham was slapped with KAPA at the time he was lodged in the jail, but it was later taken off at the time his name was considered in the special remission list.
Karanavar murder case convict Sherin – who was one of the four convicted in the murder of Bhaskaran Karnavar in 2010, Om Prakash, one of the six accused in the murder of Aprani Krishnakumar in 2007 also figure in the list
(The story first appeared on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)