Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: DMK leader MK Stalin meets Tamil Nadu governer, urges him to release prisoners
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin, along with senior party members, on Tuesday met Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit urging him to release the seven persons imprisoned in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
For over a decade, political parties and activists have been demanding the release of the convicts—Nalini Sriharan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and P Ravichandran.
The demand to release them is gaining momentum ahead of Tamil Nadu’s assembly elections slated for 2021 and a series of observations by the Supreme Court.
“Perarivalan’s mother Arputham Ammal has been waging a lone battle for 29 years for his release. We brought that to the attention of the governor,” said Stalin, speaking to reporters after the meeting. The governor reportedly explained his position for his delayed decision. Stalin said that he reminded him of the release of the three convicted AIADMK cadres in 2018 for torching a bus in Dharmapuri in 2000 which led to the death of three college students.
“The governor informed us that an appropriate decision will be taken,” said Stalin.
The opposition leader’s appeal comes in the backdrop of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) informing the apex court that it has no role in the matter of Perarivalan’s release. In an affidavit filed on November 20, the CBI stated that the decision of remission in Perarivalan’s case rested solely with the governor. They added that Perarivalan had nothing to do with the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MMDA) probe which is looking into a ‘larger conspiracy’ in the 1991 killing.
In 2014, the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of Perarivalan and two other convicts (Murugan and Sathan) to life sentences. The Tamil Nadu Cabinet passed a unanimous decision in September 2018 to release the convicts, which has been pending with Purohit since then. Earlier in November, the apex court had expressed unhappiness over the governor’s delay in deciding on Perarivalan’s recommendation for the remission of his life sentence.
The chorus for the convicts’ freedom grew louder from voices in the film fraternity and social activists ahead of union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to Chennai last week for a state government function where the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) announced that their alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would continue. On social media, #releaseperarivalan was trending on Twitter.
The DMK and AIADMK have concurred on the convicts’ freedom but continue to tussle over who is responsible for their delayed freedom. On November 5, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said that it was late former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s cabinet which took the decision and blamed the DMK for rejecting the mercy petitions of all convicts except Nalini in 2000.
On Monday, the Supreme Court extended Perarivalan’s parole by another week on medical grounds.