All 9 accused in Rajkumar abduction case walk free

All 9 accused in Rajkumar abduction case walk free

Eighteen years after the sensational abduction of Kannada thespian Rajkumar by forest brigand Veerappan, a local court here on Tuesday acquitted the nine men accused in the kidnapping, of all charges.

Third Additional District Judge K Mani, who delivered the verdict after an eight-year-long trial, ordered the release of all the nine men holding that the prosecution failed to produce “even a shred of evidence” to prove that these nine men were connected with the abduction and had links with Veerappan and his aide Sethukuzhi Govindan.

Though 14 people were made accused in the case, Veerappan, Govindan and Chandra Gowda died much before the trial began, while Mallu died during the trial. The remaining nine — Maran, Iniyan, Andril, Sathya, Nagaraj, Puttusamy, Rama, Basavanna and Govindaraj — were acquitted, while another person, Ramesh, was absconding through the trial.

“The prosecution failed to provide even a shred of evidence to prove that these nine men were connected to Veerappan and (his aide) Sethukuzhi Govindan and played a role in the abduction. Hence, giving a benefit of doubt, I acquit all the nine men from the case,” K Mani told the crowded court.

Tearing into the prosecution for failing on several counts, the judge sought to know why the FIR was filed 24 hours after the incident and why the weapons used during the abduction were not sealed on the spot. The court also sought to know why the prosecution did not question Rajkumar, his wife Parvathamma and interlocutors — Nakheeran Gopal and Pazha Nedumaran — among others.

Rajkumar, his son-in-law S A Govindaraj, assistant director Nagappa and the actor’s aide were abducted by Veerappan and his associates from the Kannada superstar’s farmhouse in Thalavadi in Erode district on July 30, 2000. Veerappan had handed over a video cassette with his demands to Parvathamma, who rushed to Bengaluru and woke up the then chief minister S M Krishna in the dead of the night.

Though the FIR was first filed by the Thalavadi police, the case was investied by the CB-CID Coimbatore wing.

“The case should not be seen from the angle of a Kannada superstar being abducted, but from the angle of an Indian citizen being kidnapped,” the judge said, reading the order in open court. The order was not uploaded on the website till the time of going to press.

The actor was released from Veerappan’s captivity after 108 days following several rounds of negotiations and visits to the forests by Gopal, Nedumaran and others. Though the case was filed in 2000, the CB-CID filed the charge sheet only in 2011 and the proceedings went on for nearly eight years.

Noting that neither Parvathamma nor the family members of the other three who were abducted filed a police complaint, the judge also pointed out that Rajkumar himself had told in a video from the forests that “he was happy”. The judge also wanted to know why the CB-CID did not conduct an identification parade of the accused to ascertain whether any of the captives saw them inside the forests.

Charges were framed under Sections 109 (abetment of an offence), 120 B (conspiracy) 147 (unlawful assembly), 148 (unlawful assembly with deadly weapons), 449 (criminal trespass into house), 364 A (abduction for ransom), 365 (abduction for wrongful confinement) of Indian Penal Code besides Section 25 (1) (b) and 27 (1) of the Arms Act.

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