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Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Released convict Santhan dies in hospital

Feb 28, 2024 10:06 AM IST

Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Santhan suffered a cardiac arrest. He was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis.

T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, one of the freed convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has passed away at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai, a hospital official said.

Rajiv Gandhi. (HT Photo)
Rajiv Gandhi. (HT Photo)

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) under the Union Ministry of External Affairs provided an emergency travel document for 56-year-old Santhan, enabling his prompt repatriation to Sri Lanka.

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As reported by The News Minute, Santhan suffered a cardiac arrest. He was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis, a condition unrelated to alcohol consumption that affects liver functioning.

Santhan's counsel advocate Pugazhendhi told The News Minute, “His brother was there at the hospital when he passed away. His body will be taken to his house in Sri Lanka for final rites. Arrangements are being made.”

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Santhan, who was held in a special camp at the Tiruchy central prison, was scheduled to be accompanied by officials to the international airport for deportation. Following Santhan's request, the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission had previously issued a temporary travel document, and then the FRRO granted an exit permit for his departure.

After the FRRO order on February 23, Santhan was to be deported within two days. However, he was admitted to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital in early February, The News Minute reported.

In May 1999, the Supreme Court acquitted 19 of the 26 accused arrested in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination while affirming the death penalties of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, and Nalini, and reducing the death sentences of Payas, Ravichandran, and Jayakumar to life imprisonment. All seven individuals were apprehended in the weeks and months following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, carried out by a suicide bomber affiliated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.

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Santhan was released by the Supreme Court in November 2022.

According to the CBI, Santhan arrived in Tamil Nadu in April 1991. Described as a member of the LTTE's intelligence wing, he was suggested by the LTTE mastermind Sivarasan in February 1988 to pursue studies in Madras (Chennai).

Subsequently, in February 1990, Santhan secured admission at the Madras Institute of Engineering Technology, with his expenses covered by the LTTE. Santhan faced charges for his close association with Sivarasan in the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.

Perarivalan, who spent nearly three decades incarcerated alongside Santhan, characterized him as a person "who lives in his own world".

As reported by Indian Express, Perarivalan said, “He never spoke to anyone. He was an excessively religious man who regularly performed puja and rituals, and would sit in the prison temple for almost the entire day. I think he never responded to letters from his relatives in Sri Lanka, he might have severed all his ties with relatives.”

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