Former Samajwadi Party MLA Sunilam and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment Friday for allegedly beating to death a fire brigade man at a farmers protest in Multai town of Betul on January 12,1998.
Nineteen farmers had died in police firing on that day when protesters led by Sunilam gheraoed the Multai tehsil office seeking compensation for damaged crop.
The administration had lodged 66 cases against more than 250 protesters,including Sunilam,for attacking officials and damaging government property and the trials went on for 12 years in the sessions court at Multai.
Sunilam,who was associated with the undivided Team Anna movement,was also convicted of trying to set afire an assistant sub inspector of police and snatching the rifle of an inspector.
While nearly 50 cases were withdrawn and some ended up in acquittal of the accused,the trial in three cases had been on. The main incident for which Sunilam was sentenced involved fire brigade driver Dheer Singh who was pulled down and attacked with stones. He died five days later.
The massive protest had established Sunilam as a farmers leader and he won the Multai seat as an Independent in 1998. The Kisan Majdoor Adivasi Kranti Dal he established merged with SP on whose ticket he got elected again in 2003. He lost the 2008 polls and later resigned from SP to join the anti-graft movement.
His advocate Aradhana Bhargava said she would appeal against the verdict.