Life sentence for ‘Attack’ Pandi, 8 others in Dinakaran office attack case

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has awarded life sentences to nine people including M K Alagiri’s associate ‘Attack’ Pandi for setting ablaze Dinakaran newspaper office in 2007 and killing three.

A Division Bench comprising Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi delivered the verdict on the appeal preferred by the CBI and a revision petition filed by the mother of one of the victims.

The court has also directed the state government to pay Rs. 5 lakh each to the families of the three employees of the newspaper – Gopinath, Vinod and Muthuramalingan – who were killed in the attack.

Punishment for a Deputy Superintendent of Police who was also found guilty of dereliction of duty when the attackers targeted the office will be awarded separately.

Holding the State vicariously liable, the court ordered a compensation of ₹5 lakh each to be paid to the families of the three deceased employees. The appeals were preferred against the verdict of the Principal District and Sessions court, Madurai, acquitting all the 17 accused for want of sufficient evidence.

The conviction of the accused comes 12 years after the Madurai office of the popular Tamil daily, Dinakaran, was attacked, which led to the death of three office staff. After a series of accusations and back and forths in the investigations, the case was transferred from the CB-CID to the CBI. The CBI named 17 persons in its charge sheet including a then Deputy Superintendent of police.

The case dates back to 2007 when the Dinakaran, a popular Tamil newspaper owned by the Sun Group headed by Kalanithi Maran, published a survey stating that MK Stalin was the preferred heir to then DMK President M Karunanidhi and M K Alagiri’s popularity was just two per cent.