Thiruvananthapuram, October 21 (BPNS)
The kingpin of one of Kerala’s worst-ever hooch tragedies Chandran alias Manichan got released on Friday. Ironically, he got released on the same day when the Kalluvathukkal hooch tragedy occurred 22 years ago. It was on October 21, 2000, that the tragedy happened which resulted in the death of 31 persons and left 500 persons hospitalized. Though Manichan was sentenced to a life term, concerning the case, the government decided to release a group of prisoners, including him, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. He had undergone 22 years of jail term.
His release was facilitated by the Supreme Court (SC) which directed the state government not to insist on paying a fine of Rs 30.45 lakh. It was on the other day that the apex court indicated that the state government should waive off the fine.
While considering a petition filed by Manichan’s family, the court asked, “How many years would the convict have to be in prison, if unable to pay the fine.” The court also questioned the state government’s failure to avoid the hooch tragedy.
Earlier, the Kollam Sessions Court had directed Manichan to pay a fine of Rs 30.45 lakh before his release. But his family approached the SC to waive off the fine citing that it is difficult to mobilize such a huge amount as they are in dire straits now.
The state government then took the stance that if the convict did not pay the fine then he will have to serve an additional jail term of 22 years and nine months.
Manichan was the seventh accused in the hooch tragedy case.
Last November Manichan’s two brothers Vinod Kumar and Manikantan were released after the jail advisory committee reported that they were now fit to lead the lives of law-abiding citizens.
It was the hooch consumed from Hyrunnisa’s house, who was the prime accused in the case and died in 2009 due to liver problems, that resulted in the tragedy. It was said to be brought from Manichan’s godown.