Congress leader among 317 prisoners released in Andhra Pardesh

August 15th, 2008 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Aug 15 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh government Friday released 317 prisoners, including controversial Congress leader and murder convict Gouru Venkat Reddy, on compassionate grounds on the occasion of Independence Day. Reddy, husband of a Congress legislator and a close associate of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, was released from Cherlapally central jail near here. He was greeted by a large number of his supporters when he came out of the jail.

Reddy, undergoing 10-year sentence in a double murder case, was earlier released in 2005 after then governor Sushil Kumar Shinde granted him pardon. The leader from Kurnool district was re-arrested after the Supreme Court struck down his remission.

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy said the state government did not interfere with the work of a high-level committee headed by inspector general of prisons that screened the names of the prisoners to be released.

The committee was constituted after the Supreme Court directed the government to frame guidelines for release of prisoners.

The efforts to get Reddy released gained momentum after the Congress party came to power. His release this time is significant as the state is going to polls in March next year. The government has released prisoners on Independence Day after a gap of three years.

Reddy and seven others were convicted of murdering two Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders by a trial court in 2002. The Andhra Pradesh High Court upheld the sentence but the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 10 years.

The two leaders were killed Sep 19, 1995.

The government tried to release Reddy in 2006 by including his name in the list of 1,500 prisoners to be released on the occasion of Independence Day. The Supreme Court struck down the move and asked the government to formulate guidelines for releasing the prisoners.

The government’s move to release Reddy came under sharp criticism from the main opposition TDP.

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