Double life-term for Moulvi’s murderer

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on September 30, 2010

The CBI Special Court, Kochi on Thursday awarded life-imprisonment to PV Hamzah, first accused in the case related to the murder of Muslim reformist scholar Chekanur Moulvi. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 100,00 on Hamzah, the only accused to be convicted in the case.

Hamzah was awarded one life imprisonment each on two counts of offences – murder and conspiracy for homicide. The court said the fine to be remitted by Hamzah should be given equally to the two wives of the Moulvi, who was 55 when he went missing.

The murder of PK Mohammed Abdul Hassan Moulvi, known as Chekanur Moulvi, is being viewed as the first act of Islamist terror to take place in Kerala. The CBI, which probed the case of the man-missing case for 14 years, had concluded that the Moulvi was murdered by some conservative elements who opposed his progressive religious ideas.

Special Judge S Vijayakumar had the other day convicted Hamzah while acquitting eight other accused for want of evidence. Hamzah was one of the two persons who had taken the Moulvi out of his house in Kavilpadi, Edapal, Malappuram on July 29, 1993. Since then there had been no information about him.

Though no remains of the body or the dress that the Moulvi had worn the time he was last seen had been found in the 14 years of CBI investigations but the agency concluded that he was murdered. The Moulvi had become the enemy of the conservatives through his calls for reforms and objections to the un-Quar’anic practice of priesthood.

The CBI said that those who wanted to stifle Moulvi’s theories were also responsible for killing him. The case was first probed by the local police and then the Crime Branch. The CBI took over the probe in 1996 on orders from the Kerala High Court based on a petition from Howwa Umma.

The agency concluded in 1998 that the Moulvi had been murdered. They dug all over a hill near Pulikkal in Malappuram for the remains of the body and the dress of the Moulvi but could find nothing. The court had on Wednesday agreed with the CBI’s argument on the basis of witness accounts in the absence of strong circumstantial evidences.

The CBI had filed the chargesheet in the case in 2002, according to which four groups had taken part in the murder in various steps. During the 14-year probe, ten accused were arrested. There were 40 witnesses in the case, of whom 14 turned hostile generating suspicion that there were high-level interferences.

In 2005, Special CBI Judge Kamal Pasha arraigned Sunni leader Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliar, supreme leader of the influential AP faction of Sunnis, as an accused in the case. But the High Court quashed the order against Musliar. The scholar’s family had approached the Supreme Court against this but the plea was not admitted.

However, relatives of the Moulvi seemed dissatisfied by the verdict. Saleem Haji, uncle of the Moulvi, said the actual killers were still roaming free. He said the family’s legal battle would not end till that person was brought before the law.

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