An alleged aide of forest bandit Veerappan, Stella Mary, who had been arrested by the Kollegal police two months ago, was released on bail.
The arrest of Stella Mary for her alleged involvement in the Palar blasts of 1993 had not only aroused curiosity over the police taking her into custody a good 27 years after the crime, but also raised questions over the legality of sending her to judicial custody instead of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) as she was a minor when the offence had been reported.
Stella Mary, who left Mysuru jail on Friday, was ordered to be released on bail by the Chamarajanagar court earlier this week.
Her lawyer P.P. Baburaj clarified that the release of Stella Mary, now 43, had little to do with the release of jail inmates to prevent transmission of COVID-19 as per the Supreme Court directions. She was released after the regular bail application came up for online hearing on Tuesday.
As the judge had ordered her release on two sureties of ₹2 lakh each, her husband Veluswamy, who resides in Javeri village in Chamarajanagar district, was unable to reach Mysuru till Friday due to restrictions on movements. “He arranged for the sureties on Wednesday and left on Thursday, but was stopped near Santhemarahalli and forced to return. Somehow, he managed to reach Mysuru on Friday, completed the formalities and took Stella back to their village”, Mr. Baburaj said.
Soon after her arrest, Stella’s counsel had argued before the court that she was a minor when the offence was reported and she should be transferred to the JJB as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, but his plea had been turned down.
Mr .Baburaj had argued that Stella was allegedly kidnapped by Veerappan’s gang members when she was a minor and was married to a gang member Sunda Veliyar, who was later killed in a police encounter. Subsequently, Stella married Veluswamy and had settled down in Javeri village. Mr. Baburaj also rejected the police claims that Stella was able to wield firearms. Rejecting the police claims that they came across Stella when she had wielded a firearm to scare away a herd of wild elephants, Mr. Baburaj said Veluswamy and local leaders of the village had taken Stella to the police station after learning about the allegations against her. But, she was taken into custody and produced before the court.
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