Forty years after Naxalite leader A. Verghese was killed in an ‘encounter’, a CBI special court in Kochi convicted former inspector general of police K. Lakshmana on Wednesday. The sentence will be pronounced on Thursday.
The court, however, acquitted former director general of police P. Vijayan (83).
The first accused in the case, head constable Ramachandran Nair, died four years ago.
Both Lakshmana and Vijayan, both in their eighties, came to the court on wheel-chairs when the judgment was delivered. Lakshmana’s advocate said his client would soon move the higher court.
Verghese, then a 28-year-old political activist, was gunned down by the police in the Tirunelly forests in northern Wayanad district on February 18, 1970.
Although the police had claimed that he was killed in an encounter, Nair revealed in 1998 – apparently to cleanse his soul – that he had killed Verghese on the orders of his superiors, especially Lakshmana, who was then a deputy superintendent.
After the revelation, Verghese’s brothers and former comrades approached the high curt for a CBI probe. The CBI charge-sheeted Nair, Lakshmana and Vijayan.
Nair recounted that after Verghese was arrested from his hideout in Tirunelly, Lakshmana addressed the constables guarding the prisoner.
He asked any four to raise their hands if they were willing to shoot Verghese – handcuffed and blindfolded.
Nair said when he refused to raise his hand, Lakshmana reportedly said many police officials also got killed in encounters and accidents. Soon Nair realised the danger and agreed. And finally, he was selected to kill Verghese.
A controversial police officer, Lakshmana’s name also figured in many police excess cases during the emergency. Based on Verghese’s story, many feature films and documentaries were made in the state.
1970: Verghese was gunned downed by police in an 'encounter' in the Thiruvenlli forests on February 18
1976: Rajan, an engineering college student disappears after being taken into police custody. Lakshmana was accused in the Rajan murder case
1998: CRPF constable Ramachandran Nair confesses in 1998 that he had shot Varghese at the behest of his superiors Vijayan and Lakshmana.
1999: Kerala HC directs CBI to take over the case after Varghese's brothers approached it citing Nair’s confession
2010: Court says Nair had committed the murder on the command of Lakshmana, the second accused, who was