Three convicts serving a life term in the Dharmapuri bus burning case, in which three students were burnt alive following an attack on a college bus by AIADMK workers in February 2000, were released from Vellore prison Monday.
Three students — Kokilavani, Hemalatha and Gayathri of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore — were killed when a mob set their college bus, carrying 44 students and two lecturers for a study tour, on fire at Ilakkiampatti near Dharmapuri.
The bus was attacked during a protest by AIADMK men against the conviction of former CM Jayalalalithaa in Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case.
Vellore prison officials said they received an order from higher-ups before Monday afternoon for the release of Neduchezhian, Ravindran alias Madhu and Muniappan. Within an hour, around 12.30 pm, the trio was seen stepping out of the prison after serving a term for nearly two decades.
In March 2016, the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence of the trio to life imprisonment. The proposal for their release was first mooted as part of the state government’s premature release scheme marking the birth centenary of AIADMK founder and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran.
The trio’s premature release was recently recommended to Governor Banwarilal Purohit after the state government suggested the seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case should also be released.