Chennai, September 9 (PTI/newsin.asia): Following the Indian Supreme Court’s suggestion, the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu on Sunday decided to recommend to the State Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
A resolution to this effect was adopted at the State Cabinet which met in Chennai under Chief Minister K. Palaniswami’s leadership, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar told reporters.
It decided to recommend to Purohit, the release of Murugan, Santhan, A.G. Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Nalini Sriharan, who are now serving life imprisonment.
The move comes days after the Supreme Court asked the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of Perarivalan seeking remission or pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution and disposed of the Centre’s petition opposing Tamil Nadu government’s earlier proposal for the release of the convicts.
Though the apex court had asked the Governor to consider the plea of Perarivalan only, the government decided to recommend setting free all others as they too had petitioned seeking premature release, he said.
The Cabinet resolution will be sent to the Governor “immediately,” Jayakumar said.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near here by an LTTE woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.
The plea of the Central government is that the killing of a former Prime Minister was a heinous crime. But the plea of the convicts is that they have been in jail for 27 years since 1991. Also they were not the killers of Rajiv Gandhi they were only accomplices in varying degrees.
The killer was Dhanu the suicide bomber and her handlers were Sivarasan and his female accomplice who had killed themselves when surrounded by police.
There is also an opinion in Tamil Nadu that Rajiv Gandhi was killed as he had sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force which had killed a number of Tamil civilians in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam between July 1987 July and March 1990. The killing of Rajiv was part of a war.
The release of the convicts had become an issue of Tamil nationalism with all Tamil regional parties and also the communists supporting it.
Even the Congress, of which Rajiv Gandhi was President, is likely to support the release if only tacitly, because Rahul Gandhi, its current President and son of Rajiv Gandhi, has said that the killing of his father was the result of an atmosphere of violence. He has also said that he was sorry when Prabhakaran’s 12 year old son Balachandran was killed in the fighting,
(The featured image at the top shows the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi asassination case: Top row: Murugan, Perarivalan, Santhan. Bottom row: Nalini, Ravichandran, Robert Payas and Jayakumar)