MADURAI: In the midst of intense drama on Tuesday, a special court in Madurai sentenced S Yuvaraj and his nine accomplices to life in prison “till death” for the June 2015 murder of dalit youth Gokulraj in Namakkal district. In total, 10 of the 17 suspects received life sentences, while five others were cleared of all charges. While Yuvaraj received separate life sentences for three offenses—kidnap, conspiracy, and murder—another accused is currently undergoing a separate trial in the Namakkal Sessions Court. These defendants include S Chandrasekaran, P Arun, S Kumar, R Sathiskumar, S Ragu, D Ranjith, and D Selvaraj, who received separate life sentences “until death” for conspiracy and murder. Yuvaraj, the founder of the caste organization Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai, and his associates abducted Gokulraj, an engineering student from Omalur in the Salem district, on June 23, 2015, from a temple in Tiruchengode where he had been seen conversing with a girl from the gounder community. Two other defendants received life sentences in addition to five years for harboring offenders. The following day, his torso was discovered near a railroad track in Pallipalayam. Last week, the Madurai special court handling charges brought under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act convicted 10 of the accused guilty of murder, but it was announced that the sentence’s specifics would be announced on Tuesday. The 10 defendants were all brought before III Additional District Judge T Sampathkumar on Tuesday to discuss the sentencing. Yuvaraj handed over a pair of pictures showing Gokulraj’s beheaded body lying on railroad lines as he was being led out of the police van. He stated to the media that he preferred an appeal of the judgment. All of the defendants professed their innocence when the special judge questioned them about the severity of the sentencing. The special prosecutor in the case, attorney Bhavani B. Mohan, pleaded with the court to impose the worst penalty possible because the defendants had planned and executed Gokulraj’s murder in cold blood. He claimed that Gokulraj was slain solely to make a social statement, emphasizing the caste aspect of the crime. The judgement brought Chitra, Gokulraj’s mother, to tears because it stated that it was a crime both against Gokulraj and society. She argued that her son should not have to endure the same abuse. Despite expecting the death penalty, she declared she was content with a life sentence till death. Strange occurrences including the death of Tiruchengode DSP Vishnupriya on September 18, 2015, Yuvaraj’s 100-day underground existence, and the transfer of the trial from Namakkal to Madurai occurred after the murder.
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