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Congress attacks BJP for Tamil Nadu push to release Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins

The Congress attacked not just the state government but the centre as well for, what it called, was an attempt to set the terrorists free.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2018 21:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tamil Nadu,Rajiv Gandhi,Rajiv gandhi assasination
Rajiv Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister from 1984 to 1989.(HT archive)(HT Photo)

A day after Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK government recommended release of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins, the Congress attacked not just the state government but the centre as well for, what it called, was an attempt to set the terrorists free.

“Unfortunately, the BJP is looking at terrorism too from a partisan perspective,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala at a media briefing on Monday. He claimed that the AIADMK was the BJP’s ally in Tamil Nadu and was acting in coordination with the BJP at the centre.

“Is it not true that BJP’s ally AIADMK and BJP-appointed governor are proceeding to recommend reprieve, remission and release of the assassins,” he said. The AIADMK isn’t part of the ruling coalition at the centre but has been seen to work closely with the BJP.

The state cabinet had, at a special meeting on Sunday, decided recommended the release of seven convicts who had spent 27 years in jail for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi’s son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi has made it clear on more than one occasion that he and his sister had forgiven their father’s killers.

“We are of clear opinion that the state cannot derelict its duty of punishing terrorists and terrorism. Those who swear by pseudo nationalism day in and day out, are today doing politics over the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi. It is time to show the mirror of truth to PM Modi and his government who are shielding terrorists by these acts,” the Congress spokesperson said.

But it isn’t just the AIADMK that favours release of the seven convicts. The DMK, a member of the Congress-led UPA, had welcomed the state government’s recommendation to Governor Banwarilal Purohit. Surjewala did not respond to a question on the DMK’s stance.

There was no immediate reaction from the BJP but the national coalition had clearly told the Supreme Court in August that the seven terrorists should not be released. The centre had then underlined that setting them free would set a “dangerous precedent” and have “international ramifications”.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu of terror group LTTE, at an election rally. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.

First Published: Sep 10, 2018 21:24 IST