On Wednesday, mercy pleas of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan's four aides, sentenced to death in a 1993 landmine blast case, have been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. They were sentenced to death by Supreme Court in 2004 for their involvement in the Palar blast case in 1993, which killed 21 people. Palar is in Karnataka and shares border with Tamil Nadu. The blast killed five policemen, 15 police informers and two forest guards.
Media reports say the four men, Meesaikara Madhaiyan, 65, Simon, 45, Gnanaprakasam, 60, and Bilavendran, 60 were small time farmers, who were roped as informers by Veerappan. Later on they were trained to handle guns and explosives.
"The mercy plea should not have been rejected. The cases against all of us were false. We were not involved in the blast," said Aruldoss, who has written a book on alleged police atrocities against tribals accused of being informers.
"The family members received information from Belgaum prison authorities that the mercy petitions of the four have been rejected by the President," Balamurugan, General Secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties, Tamil Nadu, said.
He said the families of the four death row convicts, lodged in Belgaum jail, had informed him about the President's decision, which comes days after rejection of the mercy plea and hanging of Afzal Guru in the Parliament attack case.
From a small-time smuggler to a dreaded dacoit, Koose Muniswamy Veerappan Gounder ruled several villagers and controlled more than 6,000km of forest land covering three states.
He was gunned down in October 2004.