27 get life sentence over 2018 Kachanatham triple murder
A special court on Friday sentenced 27 convicts to life imprisonment in connection with the 2018 triple murder case that took place in Kachanatham area of in Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga district.
The Court for Exclusive Trial of Cases under the Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had on August 1 found all the 27 guilty. Accordingly, judge G Muthukumaran sentenced the accused to life term. The quantum of sentence was awarded on Friday.
The case pertains to an incident that took place in May 2018 around 9.30pm when members from a dominant caste attacked a locality of Scheduled Caste (SC) people.
The accused had cut off the power supply in the area, barged into several houses and assaulted people with knives, sticks and other weapons.
During the incident, three people — K Arumugam, V Chandrasekhar, A Shanmuganathan— died on the spot while several others sustained grievous injuries. Five people lost their limbs.
“The attack consumed a sense of equality, liberty and protections of the Schedule caste people not just in this village but in more parts of Tamil Nadu,” read the petition submitted on behalf of the victims in the court.
Though there had been a stand-off between the communities and the SC community had sought police protection in 2017, the issue escalated after a dispute over a local village temple festival. As per the allegation, during the temple festival, two Dalit men did not “give respect” to accused identified as Suman.
After the attack, the police had arrested 33 people in the case including four minors – all from the dominant community. After the trial began, one person went absconding and one person died. They key accused were identified as Chandrakumar (47), his sons, Suman (23), Arun Kumar (21) and their friend Agni Raj (21). The Sivaganga police had filed a chargesheet in connection with the case in September 2018. The court in its previous hearing had found 27 of the 33 people guilty.
According to the court’s order, all 27 convicts were sentenced on seven counts, including life imprisonment,rigorous imprisonment, fines under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act.
“They have each got three life sentences. We welcome this verdict,” said human rights activists G Sugumaran. However, the families of the victims were not satisfied. “We expected death penalty for the gruesome murders. It saddens us that only life imprisonment has been given,” Sukumar, who was also injured during the attack told the reporters.
On Wednesday, the accused were asked to appear via video-conferencing to avoid any law any order problems. The families of the victims had sought maximum punishment for the convicts. On Friday too there was heavy police presence in Sivaganga.
In 2019, when some of the accused had challenged the special court denying them bail in the Madurai Bench of the Madras high court, the higher court observed that the trial was at an advanced stage and that the brutality of the crime had a “telling effect on the peace of the society at large.” The Madurai bench too dismissed the appeals.
The crime had occurred during the previous AIADMK regime. At that time the then chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami had announced a compensation of ₹10 lakh to each of the Dalit families.