Chennai, September 25: A sessions court in Gobichettipalayam on Monday acquitted all the nine accused in the case relating to abduction of Kannada super star Rajkumar by forest brigand Veerappan in August 2000.
Setting them free, sessions Judge Mani said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against them. Rajkumar was abducted from his farm house in Doddagajanur in Karnataka bordering Tamil Nadu on Aug 30, 2000 by Veerappan and his associates when he visited it for house warming. He was released after 108 days in illegal custody on the intervention of Tamil nationalist P Nedumaran and Nakkeeran editor R Gopal.
Unlike previous cases of abduction by Veerappan, this lasted so long because pro-LTTE outfits Tamil National Army and the Tamil Nadu Retrieval Force also joined hands with him, making the task of intermediaries like Gopal and Nedumaran difficult.
Two factors prompted Veerappan to release Raj Kumar. The immediate reason was the firm direction from the Supreme Court to the STFs of both the States to go after him. As Raj Kumar was 70 plus, Veerappan felt that he would be a burden while on the run and if anything untoward to him, it would lead to another anti-Tamil riots in Karnataka.
Another reason was that the LTTE did not kindly take to the abduction as it felt it would affect its safe houses in Karnataka. That was what enabled Nedumaran, who was close to the outfit, to make the extremists and Veerappan to let Raj Kumar go.
Thalavadi police in the Sathyamangalam forest range had registered case under Sec 304 A of the IPC (abduction for ransom) against 14, including Veerappan and his three associates. It also invoked the Arms Act and Explosives Substances Act. While Veerappan and his associates Sethukuli Govindan and Chandra Gowda were killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force in Dharmapuri in 2004, accused Ravi absconded and another died during trial.
Raj Kumar died in April 2006 and his wife Parvathamma a few years later. Sessions judge Mani set free the other nine, mostly tribals of the Sathyamangalam forest, holding that the prosecution had failed to prove charges beyond reasonable doubt.
The judge said Raj Kumar and Parvathamma were not examined. The FIR was also antedated by the police. The prosecution had cited 47 witnesses, but the judge held that no identification parade was held before them.