Veerappan widow urges Jaya against executing his aides
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CALLS have grown louder to spare the lives of four associates of slain bandit Veerappan who face gallows after the President rejected their mercy petitions. The swift and secret hanging of Afzal Guru has raised concerns in Tamil Nadu as seven from the state, including three convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, are on death row.
Veerappan's widow Muthulakshmi urged Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to intervene on behalf of Simon, Gnanaprakasham, Bilavendra and Mesekara Madaiah as she did in the case of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case. Jaya had brought a resolution in the Assembly to save them.
Incidentally, it was during Jayalalithaa's previous stint as the CM that Veerappan was killed and in elections that followed, she had touted it as one of her major achievements.
PMK leader S Ramadoss said the four were innocent of the crime they were convicted of: involvement in Palar blast that killed 22 persons, including police and forest officials. He also urged the Centre to spare lives of all those on death row.
Amnesty International India also urged the Centre not hang the four. "There is a real concern these four men will be put to death soon. The Indian government must ensure this does not happen," said the outfit's chief executive G Ananthapadmanabhan.
Meanwhile, in Salem, Madaiah's wife Thangammal, 60, said when she met him in Belgaum prison six months ago he had hoped that he might be released in a few months.