Tightrope walk to new life: Kollam man’s narrow escape from death penalty

G Jyothilal


Kollam: Mundakkal native Ramachandran’s life is no less than a film. While spending his whole youth in prison Ramachandran never expected that he could save himself from his fate--death by hanging.

Ramachandran had been a constable. The issue between him and neighbourhood men who distilled arrack escalated. He ended up murdering one among those who served arrack to his father.

The incident happened in 1970. He was just 20 years old then. The lower court observed the offense seriously as the accused was a police officer who was on duty. He was awarded capital punishment which was approved by the High Court and Supreme Court later.

Ramachandran was released for parole, after completing life imprisonment in the prison. During that time, he reunited with a relative woman Prameela, who always had a secret admiration for Ramachandran. He married her but had to return to jail soon.

An unexpected turn happened when the intervention of CPI leader Chitharanjan helped him to repeal the death sentence. The then governor NN Wanchoo revoked his capital punishment in 1986 and Ramachandran served 12 more years in jail.

The days spent in a special dark cell were unendurable, said Ramachandran. The sole companions during this period were books, he said.

Later, the guilt of the crime that he committed urged him to take the path of charity under the Sathya Sai Seva organisation. He is currently making both ends meet by driving an auto rickshaw which he bought after taking a loan.

According to experts in the field, the ultimate purpose of punishment for a crime is to make the person a productive part of the system at a later stage. However, the rehabilitation of the people after serving imprisonment remains an unaddressed issue in the state. Ramachandrans’ lawyer Vraj Mohan had requested the government to launch concrete projects for the rehabilitation of released convicts.

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