The Edappadi K Palanisamy Government is believed to have decided to remit the life sentence awarded to three AIAADMK men who set fire to a college bus with students inside in Dhamapuri in protest against conviction of late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in two corruption cases in 2000. Three girl students trapped inside the bus died.
The trial court sentenced the three AIADMK functionaries, Nedunchezhiyan, Madhu and Munniappan, to death. However, the Supreme Court commuted it to life and they are now lodged in Vellore central prison.
The Government has decided to release them prematurely as part of remission it is granting to life convicts as a goodwill gesture to mark the birth centenary of the AIADMK founder and three-time Chief Minister M G Ramachandran.
Lest it should be accused of political bias, the Government has also decided to prematurely release another life convict and former Annamalai University medical student John Pandian who killed his college mate Naavarasu in November 1996, dissected his body with a surgical knife, stuffed it in a suitcase and abandoned the suitcase near Tambaram on the outskirts of Chennai.
Navarasu was son of former Madras University Vice –Chancellor Ponnusamy. Though it had all the trappings of a crime of passion, it was treated a case of ragging that had gone wrong because of social implications.
The incident led to promulgation of an ordinance against ragging by the State Government with provision for stiff punishment.
Both the cases caused an outrage, the Dharmapuri incident much more because it showed the fascist mindset of the AIADMK men who resorted to violence all over the State after Jayalalitha’s conviction by two special courts in Chennai.
Though burning Government buses during political agitations is not anything new, the AIADMK agitators did not even give time to the students in the bus to come out before setting fire to it.
Jayalalitha never apologised for the incident nor did she take any action against the AIADMK men who were eventually convicted.
Though she could not contest following her conviction in the corruption case, she led the AIADMK to victory in the 2001 Assembly elections despite the Dharmapuri incident. The AIADMK duly elected her leader, thus forcing Governor Fathima Beevi to swear her in as Chief Minister.
She stepped down only after an outraged Supreme Court asked how she could be Chief Minister when she was ineligible to be a member of the Assembly. It asked her to step down and clear her name first.
She eventually got acquittal in most cases barring the disproportionate case in which the Supreme Court upheld her conviction, a ruling which came after her death in December 2016.