A court in Chennai today sentenced a retired Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Kandasamy Ramaraj, to life imprisonment for murdering 13-year-old Dilshan in July 2011. The teenager from a city slum was shot dead while he was plucking almonds from a tree in the compound of an Army complex.
The incident took place at the Island Grounds Army Residential complex in Chennai. Lieutenant Colonel Ramaraj, 58, was an Assistant Engineer in the Arms Section of the Electrical Mechanical Department at the time.
During the course of the hearing, Lieutenant Colonel Ramaraj's lawyer maintained that his client was being framed and that he had no intention or motive to kill the boy. After the verdict today, he said he will appeal against the order in the High Court. "We will certainly be filing an appeal in the honorable High Court. This is not the end of the matter. If required, after High Court appeal we may even go to the Supreme Court," he said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered a Crime Branch probe into the matter. As there were no eyewitnesses, the police had to trace mobile phone signals to verify the movements and presence of officers in the Army quarters; investigators also used divers to recover the weapon that was allegedly used to kill Dilshan. Police said Dilshan was shot in the head with a Springfield Rifle.
A post-mortem confirmed the teenager died from a bullet injury to the head. The ballistic report said the shrapnel found from Dilshan's body and the injury matched the ammunition used to fire from the weapon recovered.
The fast track court examined over 50 witnesses in the case. According to the police, it was initially thought that there were three children present in the complex at the time of the incident. They said that it later came to light that there was a fourth boy, who told them about a senior armyman allegedly trying to erase evidence. The police zeroed in on Colonel Ramraj with the help of that boy.