ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NAXALITES-Strained Mercy

January 12, 1974 NAXALITES Strained Mercy AFTER keeping the issue pending for three years, the Union Cabinet decided last month to commute the death sentence on Nagabushan Patnaik into imprisonment for life. A young Naxa- lite leader of Orissa, Patnaik had been charged with murder, arising out of a guerilla squad action of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in Vi- sakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Though a lawyer by training, he had refused to participate in the trial or defend himself or go in appeal against the death sentence. He also refused to plead for mercy, though scores of MPs, several MLAs, his aged father, his wife and several well-wishers, including Jaya Prakash Narayan, had pleaded for the commutafiofi of the death sentence on him. In view of this mobilisation of public opinion, the government did not want to go ahead and execute him. Yet it hesitated to commute the death sentence. So Patnaik was kept in the 'death row' of the Visakhapatiiam central jail for over three years. In the meanwhile, he fell seriously ill and was denied medical facilities. A plea for his transfer to a city with better medical facilities was rejected. Patnaik is also standing trial in the Parvatipuram conspiracy case. The hearing in the case had to be adjourned for two months because he was ill and had to undergo a major operation.

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