A fast-track court in Kozhikode (north Kerala) on Tuesday awarded life sentence to 11 of the 12 convicts in the sensational murder of TP Chandrasekharan, a rebel CPI(M) leader, who was waylaid and hacked to death two years ago.
Out of 11, three are office-bearers of the CPI (M) and others members of a criminal gang hired to kill the leader.
Last week the court had found the 12 guilty of the crime. Another party activist was sentenced to three years' rigorous imprisonment for destroying evidence.
Much to the embarrassment of the CPI (M), the court observed that it was a cold-blooded political murder. The verdict came as an indictment for the CPI(M), which throughout maintained that a personal enmity led to the murder.
Chandrasekharan's widow K Rema has welcomed the verdict.
"With the conviction of three CPM leaders it is very clear now the party hatched a conspiracy to annihilate Chandrasekharan," she said.
He was attacked on May 4, 2012 when he was returning home. The police had found 51 stab wounds on his body. After his murder Vatakkara (north Kerala) and surrounding places had witnessed large-scale violence.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan had decried the blooded murder and visited his house inviting enough criticism from the party.
Chandrasekhran, an active party worker, had quit the CPI (M) in 2008, accusing the party of ideological deviation and floated a new outfit, Revolutionary Marxist Party.
He had contested the last Lok Sabha election from Vatakkara and secured 25,000 votes ensuring the defeat of the CPM's official candidate. Congress's Mullappally Ramachandran, now minister of state for home, won the seat.
The prosecution case was that a section of CPI(M) leaders in Kozhikode and Kannur districts allegedly hatched a conspiracy and hired a seven-member gang to kill Chandrasekhran.
Initially, the police had charge sheeted 72 persons but the high court had stayed proceedings against 15, including party CPI(M) state committee member KK Ragesh.
Last September, 20 of them were discharged. As many as 54 of the 164 prosecution witnesses turned hostile during the trial.