‘Releasing A Convicted Murderer on I-Day is Injustice & Insult to Us’- Family Member

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‘Releasing A Convicted Murderer on 76th Independence Day is Injustice & Insult to Us’- Family Member 71-year-old Seetharam Gurpur. Recalling the murder, Praveen Kumar from Uppinangady had killed four of his relatives in greed of money and jewelery, and even though he was given a death penalty, later the Supreme Court changed the verdict to Life Inprisonment- and now the family members of the victims are upset that the government is releasing the same murderer on 15 August 2022, marking 75 years of India Independence. Seetharam is trying to get an appointment with the Superintendent of Police to discuss this issue, and he is insisting that media personnel also be present while he meets the SP.

Mangaluru: The family members of victims (four members of a family were murdered by their relative in February 1994), are upset and very much hurt that the government to mark the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence will release thousands of jail inmates thereby make them walk to freedom on August 15. Karnataka too is doing its bit in joining the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ being celebrated by the Central government across the country. The state has nearly 100 prisons which include central, district, open and taluk-level jails where more than 15,000 inmates are housed.

Praveen Kumar Sappaliga (aged about 61 at present)

In the first phase, the Karnataka state prisons department has identified 84 inmates, not serving life imprisonment, who will be set free. and among these 84 inmates, Praveen Kumar who had murdered the four family members is on that release list. It is learnt that Home Minister Araga Jnanendra had said that the 84 inmates who have been identified including four women inmates, fall under the criteria set by the MHA. Of the 84, 81 inmates have completed two-thirds of their term. “We will finalise the names and the list within the next few days,” he said. These inmates will be released on August 15, 2022. In the second and the third phases, more prisoners will be released on January 26, 2023 and August 15, 2023.

However, NOT ELIGIBLE under this special remission are those- Convict on death row and convict serving life imprisonment; Inmates convicted for dowry deaths; Inmates involved in terrorist activities; Inmates convicted for counterfeiting currency notes and for money laundering; Inmates convicted for offence of rape, human trafficking and POCSO cases; and Inmates convicted for corruption. Therefore the family is hoping that the man who killed their loved ones falls in this category, and won’t be let out.

Recaling the murder incident which occured in 23 February 1994, where Praveen Kumar Sappaliga who hails from Heriyadka near Uppinangady in Puttur taluk had committed gruesome killing of four of his relatives. Praveen and his wife used to do tailoring jobs in Chilimbi, Mangaluru. It is learnt that to adjust funds required for his addiction towards single number lottery, Praveen had pledged ornaments belonging to his wife and family members, besides raising petty loans from various sources. Still, he was perennially facing a financial crisis.

Praveen Kumar, killed four of his relatives with the purpose of robbing jewellery, as he was in urgent need of funds. He killed Appi Serigarti, her daughter, Shakuntala, granddaughter, Deepika, and Appi’s son, Govind. Appi was the sister of Praveen’s father. The husband of Shakuntala was employed in a foreign country then, but he had returned to native place a few days back before the murders took place, and Praveen thought that Shakuntala’s husband would have brought cash and gold ornaments with him.

On the night of February 23, 1994, Praveen slept after dinner. At midnight, he got up to execute his plan, and hit the above four persons with the handle of an axe and escaped from that place. The police had nabbed Praveen within a few days of the murder. He had confessed to the crime, and also showed them the place where he had hidden the ornaments.

Later, Praveen escaped from the police while being brought to Mangalore court from Hindalga prison in Belgaum and he went to Goa , where he married another girl and became the father of a female child. But there he was nabbed by the Anti Rowdy Squad. After the court’s verdict of hanging to death then Praveen kumar filed a clemency petition with the President of India, but the petition was rejected by the President.

In 2014, the Supreme Court’s decision to commute death sentence to life imprisonment of Praveen Kumar Sappaliga, convicted for murder of four persons in Vamanjoor, near Mangaluru, had come as shock to the family of the victims. “For no fault of ours, the apex court commuted the death sentence of Praveen Kumar to life imprisonment. This is nothing but injustice to us,” said Seetharam Gurupur, eldest son of Appi Sergarti, who was one of the four persons murdered by Praveen Sappaliga in Ms. Appi’s house in Vamanjoor on February 23, 1994. The other persons who were murdered are Seethram’s younger brother Govind, his sister Shakuntala and her 9-year-old daughter Deepika.

“The incident literally shattered our family. It hurts everyday remembering the tragedy. We spent a lot from our pocket to ensure that the case ended in conviction. We left our occupation and focused on the case. We were happy when the apex court had in its earlier judgment upheld lower court’s decision to impose death penalty,” Seetharam said.

Praveen Kumar has been among those who filed mercy petitions before the President, who had rejected the same on 5 April 2014. Praveen and other convicts whose mercy petitions had been rejected had challenged it before the Supreme Court questioning the delay in considering the mercy petitions. Seetharam said the suffering of the victims of the crime was ignored.

“In 2014, we filed a petition before the President after we got to know about Praveen Kumar’s mercy petition. We asked the President to quickly make a decision. But there was no response. Commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment was a severe setback to what we fought for,” Seetharam said.

A couple of days ago Seetharam Gurpur had submitted his recent statements to Team Mangalorean, where he mentioned-

My name is Mr Seetharama Gurpur (71) retired and my wife’s name is Sarojini Gurpur (67) and I have two married daughters. This is with regards to the 1994 Vamanjoor Murder case where the dangerous cold-blooded murderer Praveen Kumar (62) murdered four innocent people (my senior citizen mother of 75 years, my 36-year-old sister, 30-year-old mentally unstable brother and an innocent 9-year-old girl child). He was sentenced to death by a woman Judge Mrs Indravati which later was changed to life sentence. This dangerous criminal should have been hanged long ago, but the law and order in our country is still so poor and not justified. A total of 32 witnesses testified and the criminal murdered 4 innocent people just for a petty amount of 80k.

We got information of the release of prisoner Praveen Kumar who is currently at Bellary on our 75th Independence day. We were not informed about this decision directly. My request is not to release such a dangerous and cold-blooded murderer who is not at all remorseful of his gruesome and grisly crime, since he had escaped police custody soon after his capture. I had spent lakhs of money for justice, and at that time I wasn’t even thinking for the welfare of my own family. Also I was working abroad and had lost my job fighting for justice.The house where the murder happened, nobody was ready to buy it and I sold it at a giveaway price.I had also given a price amount of one lakh if someone captured/provided information of his whereabouts.

This letter is a plea made by me and by my entire family who have still not fully recovered from that trauma and also from Praveen Kumar’s family members and entire Vamanjoor witnesses to strongly condemn his release . I would also like to bring to your notice that the late father of the 9-year-old child Deepika, Jayanth Puthran died very tragically in the grief of his murdered family. He never remarried and we want his soul to rest in peace which will not be possible if Praveen Kumar is released.

I am also worried about mine and the safety of my family members and the witnesses if such a cold-blooded murderer is released. He could still be dangerous to the public since he has no remorse. Incase of his release, if he harms me or any of my family members, who should I blame or hold responsible for? The MHA guidelines clearly mentions that Death sentence convicts are NOT ELIGIBLE to be let free. Praveen Kumar does not fall in the Eligibility criteria, as per ministry of home affairs guidelines for the special remission. It was a landmark ruling by a lady judge for ‘death row’ which was later excused and converted to ‘life sentence’. There’s surely foul play involved here. He cannot be let out on the basis of ‘Good behaviour’ as he doesn’t qualify for the social remission in the first place.

Kindly give us justice and do not release such a dangerous and cold-blooded murderer for the welfare of mine and the society. It’s a big shame for our 75th Independence Day that you are releasing him. There is still no proper law and order existing even now. We are getting the feeling of the injustice that happened in the famous Shimoga Harsha murder case. It will be a black day for our country and a heartbreaking experience for all my family members if he is released.

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1 Comment

  1. If he had shown good behaviour in the prison, the prison warder might have recommended early release.
    Family of the victims could appeal.

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