Sep 10, 2018

TN recommends to release Gandhi assasins

The Tamil Nadu government will seek the release of the seven persons convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The recommendation of the state cabinet will be sent to the Governor immediately, said state minister D Jayakumar, adding the "public sentiment" is in favour of the release.

The government's move comes as the Supreme Court asked Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a call on the mercy petition of one of the convicts, AG Perarivalan. The state reasoned that it would recommend the release of all since they had also petitioned for early release.

But the government is likely to need the Centre's approval for the convicts' release in this case. In 2014, in response to a petition by then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court had said the state government cannot decide on the release of the convicts and needs the Centre's approval for it.

But all governments have been against any release of convicts in this case. Regarding the mercy petition of Perarivalan, the home ministry told the Supreme Court last month that Rajiv Gandhi's killers cannot be released. Calling the assassination a "most heinous and brutal crime" the Union home ministry said it would "set a very dangerous precedent and lead to international ramifications by other such criminals in the future".

Rajiv Gandhi's assassination by LTTE bomber Dhanu on May 21, 1991, and the subsequent trial and conviction of the assassins, have been an emotive subject in Tamil Nadu. Many in the state believe the convicts played minor roles and were drawn into a plot they knew little about.

The convicts - Perarivalan, Murugan, Santham, Nalini Sriharan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran - have been behind bars for 27 years, serving life terms across various jails across Tamil Nadu.

In June, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said he and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have "completely forgiven" their father's killers. In 2008, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also met Nalini Sriharan, one of the killers, in jail. Nalini's death sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life after the birth of her daughter, following a plea from Sonia Gandhi.

Besides Nalini, three others had been sentenced to death, which was commuted to imprisonment for life in 2014 by the Supreme Court.


(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by has not been edited by SLM staff)