The Tamil Nadu government has decided to 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.
The government’s move comes as the Supreme Court asked the Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a call on the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan. The state reasoned that it would recommend the release of all since they had also petitioned for early release.
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by LTTE bomber Dhanu in May 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 in jail for 27 years, serving life terms.
Last month, in response to a petition by the state, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the 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”.
In 2014, then Chief Minister J Jayalalitha had decided to release them, but the Centre had rejected the proposal.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi recently said that he and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have “completely forgiven” their father’s killers.