At least 14 witnesses of a triple murder that occurred in Narasipuram village in Krishnagiri district in 2003 have been on the run fearing for their lives for over three years now.
Residents of the same village, the witnesses fear they would be bumped off in a bid to silence them and want security. The murder case trial is currently on in a Krishnagiri court. In June last, the witnesses sought its transfer either to Vellore or Chennai in the interest of justice and fair play. The matter is still pending before the Krishnagiri court.
The case involves two persons with the same name, Muniraj, and two others with names that sound similar, Munirathinamma and Munirathina.
According to local residents, it all began after a powerful farmer in the village, Muninagappa, started illegally tilling temple land in which three brothers
S Munikrishnappa, S Seenappa and S Muniraj had a stake. Besides objecting to the tilling, the trio had employed a Dalit, Muniraj, as a labourer in their land. Muninagappa, a caste Hindu, was already cut up with the Dalit, as he had married his sister, Munirathinamma, against his will in 2000. With the simmering feud snowballing, the three brothers were murdered in 2003. The Dalit too was targeted but he managed to escape, according to locals. He was killed in 2010.
A powerful lobby in the village tried to coerce the witnesses into silence. When they failed, they threatened to eliminate them, according to witness Venkatasamy (55). Munirathina, widow of one of the slain trio, concurs.
In 2008, another villager was murdered. In order to ‘fix’ the witnesses, the lobby pointed the finger of suspicion on them, they argue.
Venkatasamy’s family and other witnesses fled the village and are now leading a nomadic life in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. For their part, police say they are ready to provide security.