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Five persons were sentenced to life imprisonment in the case relating to the murder at Pollachi in Coimbatore district on 28 January 1997 of the Jihad Committee founder-president, Palani Baba. The murder of Palani Baba had triggered riots in Coimbatore. The trial, a sensitive one considering the communal overtones, took 11 months to complete.

The CB-CID filed the chargesheet at the Pollachi court on 24 April 1997 and the case was committed for trial in the court of the Additional District Sessions Judge II in Coimbatore.

According to thechargesheet, Palani Baba was hacked to death with deadly weapons by six persons, all of them RSS sympathisers, around 9 pm on 28 January 1997 when he was about to get into his car parked outside his house on Upper Street in Venkatesa Colony, Pollachi. The motive for the murder was said to be Palani Baba’s ‘inflammatory speeches’ against Hinduism and the subsequent murder of two Hindu Munnani activists, Manickam and Selvaraj, on 10 January 1997 at Dindigul. Hindu Munnani is the RSS face in Tamil Nadu.

The II Additional Sessions Judge, Mr. R. Sarangarajan, held five of the accused (Sudhakaran, Manoj alias Manoj Kumar, Murali, Thirugnanam and Udayan) guilty under Sections 302 (murder) and 120 B (conspiracy) of the IPC and sentenced them to life imprisonment. They were also found guilty and convicted under sections of 323 IPC and under the Arms Act and Explosives Substances Act. The judge ordered that the sentences would run concurrently with the life term.

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