Rajiv Gandhi assassination: SC orders release of all 6 convicts
The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday ordered the early release of all six convicts serving life imprisonment in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The convicts whose release has been ordered include RP Ravichandran, Nalini Sriharan, who went on a hunger strike in 2019 demanding to be released, and her husband Murugan alias Sriharan, a Sri Lankan national.
Why does this story matter?
- Another convict in the case, AG Perarivalan was released in May this year after serving over 30 years in the case.
- The Tamil Nadu government had in March decided to remit the sentences of all the seven convicts and release them.
- However, the Centre rejected the proposal. Since then, the matter was pending in the SC.
SC commuted convicts' death sentences to lifers
Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991. Seven persons — Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert, Jayakumar, and Ravichandran, were convicted. Nalini's death sentence was commuted to life in the year 2000 following Sonia Gandhi's intervention, as she had given birth while in jail. In 2014, the SC commuted Murugan, Santhan, and Perarivalan's death sentences to life terms.
I'm not a terrorist: Nalini
After the release, Nalini asserted, "I'm not a terrorist," saying that she had been languishing in prison for too many years. She called the last 32 hours a struggle and thanked everyone who supported her, especially the people of Tamil Nadu and the lawyers.
Nalini, Ravichandran moved SC citing Perarivalan's case
After the Madras High Court rejected their plea in June, Nalini and Ravichandran moved the apex court in August seeking premature release, citing Perarivalan's case. The bench of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna observed that the SC judgment in Perarivalan's case was applicable in their matter. Perarivalan was granted an early release on account of his long incarceration and good conduct.
Why was Rajiv Gandhi assassinated?
A woman suicide bomber who assassinated Gandhi using her RDX-laden belt was identified as Dhanu, an operative of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE wanted revenge against the Indian government's decision to send troops to Sri Lanka. The LTTE was fighting for an independent Tamil Eelam in the northeast part of the island against the historic persecution of Sri Lankan Tamils.