Alappuzha, Jan 30: A Kerala court on Tuesday, January 30, sentenced to death 15 persons associated with the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) in connection with the murder of BJP’s OBC wing local leader Ranjith Sreenivasan in this district in 2021, the special prosecutor of the case said here.
The sentence was pronounced by Mavelikkara Additional District Judge V G Sreedevi.
The family of the slain leader and the BJP welcomed the judgement, with the saffron party hailing Sreenivasan as a "great martyr" who got justice today.
Responding to the court verdict, BJP state president K Surendran said the deceased Sreenivasan "got justice."
"Finally truth prevails— Ranjith Sreenivasan, the great martyr got justice today...we are happy with the judgement," and welcome it wholeheartedly, he added.
According to special prosecutor Prathap G Padickal, although 14 out of the total of 15 persons convicted in the case were produced before the court on Tuesday, the judge orally stated that the sentence would also apply to the convict who was not produced today.
When the remaining convict, who is currently hospitalised due to an illness, is produced in court, the sentence against him will be pronounced, he said.
The court had convicted the 15 men on January 20.
Reacting to the verdict, the family of Sreenivasan said they were satisfied with it.
"This was an exceptionally rare case, and our loss is immense. We express our gratitude to the prosecution and investigating officers for conducting a thorough and honest investigation into the incident, ultimately resulting in the imposition of the maximum punishment," Sreenivasan's wife told reporters.
The prosecution had sought the maximum sentence for the convicts, saying they were a "trained killer squad" and the cruel and diabolical manner in which the victim was killed in front of his mother, infant, and wife brings it within the ambit of the "rarest of the rarest" of crimes.
Sreenivasan, the BJP OBC Morcha state secretary, was brutally attacked and killed in his home on December 19, 2021, in front of his family, by activists affiliated with PFI and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), according to the police.
According to the prosecutor, the court found that out of the 15, accused one to eight were directly involved in the case.
It also found four men (Accused number nine to 12) guilty of murder because they, along with those directly involved in the crime, came to the spot armed with deadly weapons.
Their objective was to prevent Sreenivasan from escaping and stop anyone entering the house after hearing his screams.
The court had accepted the prosecution's argument that they were also liable for the common offense of murder under IPC Section 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), Padickal said.
The court found three persons (Accused number 13 to 15) who hatched the conspiracy for this crime to be convicted of murder.
As a result, the court had found all the 15 accused in the case guilty of murder.
They were also found guilty under various other sections of the Indian Penal Code.