CHENNAI: Chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province C V Wigneswaran has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release three life convicts in the sensational Swamy Premananda case.
The three -Kamalananda, Balan alias Balendiran and Sathis alias Sathishkumar – were convicted and sentenced along with Premananda for raping 13 girls, including minors, and conspiring to murder an inmate in the godman’s ashram near Trichy.
They were sentenced to double life imprisonment, and the punishment was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005. While Premananda died in Cuddalore prison in 2011, the other three are currently lodged in Puzhal jail in Chennai. All the four were Sri Lankan Tamils.
In his letter, Wigneswaran, a former judge of Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court, said Kamalananda and the others were falsely implicated in the case. “Premananda’s ashram and its properties have to be maintained. No one is there to take care of them. Please immediately release them as they are innocent,” he said. Some senior officials expressed surprise and shock over Wigneswaran questioning the Indian judicial system and describing the convicts as innocent.
Premananda died in 2011 at the age of 59 in due to multiple health problems, including an acute end-stage liver disease. Kamalananda, a close associate of Premananda, Balan and Satish were convicted for abetment in the rape of the girls and the murder of Ravi whose body was buried inside the sprawling ashram at Fathima Nagar near Trichy.
Kamalananda’s wife Dr Chandradevi, who was charged with terminating the pregnancies of some of the rape victims, was convicted and sentenced to a 39-month jail term. She completed her prison term and was released on payment of a fine of Rs 30,000. While Kamalananda and Balan are engineering graduates, Satish had completed higher secondary. All of them have completed 16 of the 40 years of their sentence.
Declining to reply to queries emailed to him by TOI, including one on whether it was right to seek the release of the life convicts, Wigneswaran merely admitted to sending an appeal to Narendra Modi for their release. He added that the case history was known to senior advocate Ram Jetmalani, who had defended the convicts.
A Sri Lankan, Premananda had set up the ashram in the 1980s. In 1994, he was charged with raping the 13 inmates, all Sri Lankan Tamils. The case came to light after one of the victims escaped from the ashram. Another victim became pregnant and a DNA test established that Premananda was the culprit. On August 21, 1997, the then Pudukottai district and sessions court judge R Banumathi (now Supreme Court judge) sentenced Premananda to double life imprisonment and a cumulative fine of Rs 66.4 lakh.
(Times of India)