51 years after fake encounter, Kerala pays compensation to victim’s family

Fifty-one years after a Naxal leader was killed by the Kerala Police in a fake encounter, the CPI(M)-led LDF government on Wednesday decided to award a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to his four siblings.

A Varghese, who led an armed revolt against the exploitation of tribals in the Wayanad region, was killed on February 18, 1970 in a fake police encounter – reckoned as one of the first fake encounters in the country.

Last month, his two brothers and two sisters moved the Kerala High Court, seeking to declare that they were “legally entitled to be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakhs with interest… due to the murdering of Varghese”.

Hearing the petition, the government told the court that if the petitioners prefer a representation within two weeks, the respondents — the state chief secretary and the state DGP — will consider the representation positively and pass appropriate orders thereon.

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Subsequently, the court allowed Varghese’s siblings to approach the government. The cabinet decision to award them a compensation of Rs 50 lakh stemmed from this course of action.

Following the killing of Varghese, 31, the police version of events had been widely accepted. However, in 1998, retired constable Ramachandran Nair confessed that the encounter had been fake. It was then learnt that Varghese, with his hands tied behind his back, was taken to Kumbarakkunni near Thirunelli forest in Wayanad and shot dead.

Subsequently, a case was filed, making Nair the first accused. Nair died in 2006, four years after the CBI submitted the chargesheet in the special court. In 2010, a CBI court jailed retired IPS officer K Lakshmana at whose behest Nair had shot Varghese in police custody — Lakshmana had been a deputy SP in Wayanad at the time of killing.

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