30 Jan 2024

Death Sentence for 15 PFI Members Convicted in Kerala BJP Leader's Murder

A Kerala court handed down death sentences on Tuesday to 15 members of the banned Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI). The verdict is in connection with the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party OBC wing leader Ranjith Sreenivasan in December 2021 in the district.

Mavelikkara Additional District Judge V G Sreedevi pronounced the sentence. The prosecution had urged for the maximum penalty, describing the convicts as a 'trained killer squad.' The brutal and sinister manner in which the victim was murdered in the presence of his mother, infant, and wife was highlighted, categorizing the crime as among the 'rarest of the rare.'

Were found guilty last week

The 15 men were found guilty last week. The court ruled that eight - identified as Nizam, Ajmal, Anoop, Mohammed Aslam, Abdul Salam alias Salam Ponnad, Abdul Salam, Saffaruddin, and Manshad - had been directly involved in the killing of Ranjith Srinivasan.

Four others were found guilty of murder because they came to the scene of the crime armed with deadly weapons; their objective, the court said, was to prevent Srinivasan from escaping and stop anyone trying to help him. The three others were convicted of conspiracy to murder.

The lawyers appearing for the convicts sought leniency on grounds the crime was not "rarest of the rare" as similar murders had taken place in the state several times. They also cited the convicts' age - between 26 and 52 years old - while seeking maximum possible exemption in sentencing.

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