CHENNAI: Over seven years after the gory clash between two groups of law college students in the glare of live TV telecast in the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law college premises, a trial court has sentenced 21 persons, who were then students of the college to three-years imprisonment.
Advocate Rajinikanth and BSP party leader Armstrong, whom the police included as prime accused on charges of instigating the college students, were acquitted by the court.
The clash that took place on November 12, 2008 - remembered for the TV visuals of a student Bharathi Kannan rounded up and severely assaulted by another group of students in the college entrance - came as a shock to the nation. It highlighted the deep divisions along caste lines among the students in the college.
The incident hit national headlines as the entire sequence took place with several policemen standing as mute spectators.
The trial in the investigation was prolonged to such an extent that the Supreme Court in October 2015, directed the Madras High Court to complete the trial within six months.
Delivering the verdict on Thursday, the XVII Additional Sessions judge Gomathi Nayagam convicted 21 of the former students of the college, belonging to both the rival groups, and sentenced them to undergo three years in jail. The court acquitted 22 others who were charged in the case, including Armstrong and advocate Rajinikanth.
Two sets of cases were filed by the Elephant Gate police station based on complaints and counter complaints. While 19 students belonging the group that surrounded and assaulted Bharathikannan were convicted, based on the counter complaint, Bharathi Kannan and his co-accused Arumugham, were also convicted on similar charges of assault and rioting. All 21 of the convicts were imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 each, besides the three years of rigorous imprisonment.
The court, with a view to giving time for the convicts to appeal the verdict, has suspended operation of the judgment.