The Centre on Wednesday denied media reports that it has rejected a proposal by the Tamil Nadu government to free seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Reacting to a report published in The Hindu, the ministry of home affairs told CNN-IBN that no such decision has been taken because it was still consulting the law ministry in this regard.
The Hindu reported on Wednesday morning that the Centre has turned down the Jayalalithaa government’s proposal to free seven convicts – namely V Sriharan, AG Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini. It quoted ministry officials as saying that as “the matter is sub-judice in (the) Supreme Court, it has no authority to release the prisoners”.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 14 others were killed on May 21, 1991, when a suicide bomber from the The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam blew herself up after touching his feet at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai.
The state government, in its letter to the Centre, stated that it has decided to remit the life terms of the convicts as they have “already served imprisonment for 24 years”.
Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy had accused the AIADMK chief of being “perfidious” and “unpatriotic” for requesting that the seven convicts be released. Swamy told ANI that the request was “against the nation” because the people booked for Gandhi’s assassination were terrorists who should not be spared.
“Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India and the LTTE is a foreign organisation... it’s a terrorist organisation. They come to India, say they don’t like Rajiv Gandhi’s policy and kill him. Is it that simple? Can we accept that? It is the most unpatriotic thing if anyone says anything in this regard,” said Swamy.
The BJP leader went on to remind Jayalalithaa that 18 policemen had also died in the attack. “Jayalalithaa does not have a drop of patriotic blood in her... she is a very selfish women who only thinks of herself. This is against the nation. The Tamil people don’t want this... they will reject it,” he said.
The Congress party also condemned Jayalalithaa’s plea, stating that she was trying to interfere with the country’s criminal justice system. “The Tamil Nadu government is trying to interfere with criminal justice in this country, when the matter is sub-judice.... (the fact that it pertains to) a martyr who died at the hands of terrorists is unfortunate,” said Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan.
(With ANI inputs)