62 get life term for Marad killings

Sixty-two Muslims were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Marad massacre case of 2003 the worst-ever communal conflagration in the history of Kerala by the Additional Session's Court (Special) here on Thursday. Another accused was sentenced to five-year imprisonment and asked to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 after he was found guilty of hoarding lethal weapons at the Marad Juma Masjid.

The case had assumed significance due to the long list of guilty most of whom belonged to the Indian Union Muslim League, CPI(M), People's Democratic Party, and National Development Front.

While pronouncing the punishment, Judge Babu Mathew P Joseph observed that the case could not be considered as the rarest of rare to slap death sentence on the accused, as argued by the prosecution.

The prosecution had arraigned 148 as accused. Five of them were minors, to be tried in a juvenile court, two were reportedly absconding, one was killed during the incident and another one turned approver for the prosecution. Hence, the chargesheet was presented to only 139.

On December 27, while delivering the verdict which found them guilty, the court had found 63 of them guilty and let 76 others free. The court framed murder charges against 62, while another was found guilty only for misusing the mosque.

The sensational case dates back to May 2, 2003, when nine Hindus at the coastal village of Marad, under Kozhikode city police limits, were killed in an unprovoked attack. At dusk, when these fishermen were taking rest at the beach, a group of armed assailants pounced on them, killing nine and injuring over a dozen. It was a one-sided attack, without any provocation, as a revenge for the death of the relatives of a person who was killed in violence in 2002. Of the victims, eight belonged to the Araya Hindu fishermen community, while one was a Muslim assailant, who was accidentally attacked by his own men.

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