The Kerala High Court on Thursday, January 13, granted bail to three of the accused in the murder case of SDPI state secretary KS Shan, who was hacked to death on December 18, 2021 and which had led to an alleged retaliatory killing of a BJP leader in Alappuzha. One of the accused who was granted bail was an ambulance driver, who allegedly helped some of the main accused in the case to escape by ferrying them in his ambulance.
Of the other two, one had allegedly harboured some of the main accused in his wife's house in Thrissur and the other had allegedly provided them with food, according to the prosecution. Justice Gopinath P granted bail to the three, saying that as things stand today, "the only allegation against them is that of having committed an offence under section 212 (harbouring an offender) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which is a bailable offence". Therefore, they are entitled to bail, the court said.
The prosecution, on the other hand, contended that granting bail to them would not be conducive as there is every chance of a retaliatory attack and that the law and order situation in the area (Alappuzha) was still volatile. The prosecution also conceded that the investigation conducted so far in the murder case of the SDPI leader did not show that the three accused were part of the original conspiracy. This was the stand taken by the three accused' lawyers who had contended that the trio was not part of the original conspiracy and the only accusation against them was that they had harboured the main accused in the case.
After hearing both sides, the court said that since the prosecution believes that granting them bail would expose them to a retaliatory attack and that the law and order situation in the area was volatile, the three accused shall not enter Alappuzha district except for the purpose of complying with instructions of the investigating officer (IO) of the case.
The other conditions imposed on them were â€” executing bonds for the sum of Rs 50,000 with two solvent sureties each for the like amount, reporting before the Investigating Officer as and when called upon to do so, not to influence or intimidate witnesses and not to get involved in any other crime while on bail.
The alleged use of an ambulance in the escape of some of the accused also prompted the court to remark that one does not know what is happening in ambulances in Kerala, as a large number of them can be seen frequently criss-crossing the state, which is not so in other states of the country. "We see so many ambulances criss-crossing on the roads here. Are there so many sick people in the state?" Justice Gopinath asked.
The back-to-back killings in Alappuzha on December 18-19 last year had rocked the coastal district and led to imposition of prohibitory orders there for a couple of days. Shan was brutally attacked while he was on his way back home at night. A car had rammed into his bike and as he fell down, the assailants inflicted around 40 injuries on him leading to his death.