UPA ALLY and DMK leader M K Stalin met Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit Tuesday and sought the immediate release “on humanitarian grounds” of the seven persons sentenced to life in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
A decision by the Tamil Nadu government to release the seven, who have served nearly 30 years of rigorous imprisonment, is pending for approval before the Governor since September 2018.
DMK’s move comes four days after the Centre told the Supreme Court that the CBI has nothing to do with a petition for remission of sentence filed by one of the seven, A G Perarivalan. The plea is an issue between the petitioner and the office of the Governor, it said.
Perarivalan was 19 when he was arrested in June 1991 and accused of having bought two battery cells for Sivarasan, the LTTE member who masterminded the assassination.
Speaking to reporters, Stalin said: “Yet again, we have asked the Governor to take the decision immediately… Perarivalan’s mother Arputham Ammal has been fighting for justice for more than 29 years. We have explained all these factors to the Governor. The Governor replied that he will take an appropriate decision soon.”
“We have demanded that the Governor release all the seven convicts on humanitarian grounds, for having spent about 30 years in prison,” Stalin said.
The DMK delegation, which included Dayanidhi Maran, also submitted a letter stating that the party had been continuously demanding the release of the seven convicts — Nalini Sriharan and her husband Murugan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and P Ravichandran, apart from Perarivalan.
Perarivalan, from Jolarpettai near Vellore, Nalini, from Chennai, and Ravichandran, from Madurai, are Indian citizens while the rest are Sri Lankan nationals.
It was the petition filed by Perarivalan in December 2015 that revived demands for the release of the convicts. In September 2018, the Supreme Court directed the Governor to decide on the pardon plea as he “deemed fit”. Within three days, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet recommended release of all the seven. When Perarivalan’s plea came up this month, the SC frowned upon the Centre’s submission that the probe by a CBI-led team into the assassination was still on. Noting that the probe was about the “larger conspiracy”, the court said: “It is not for them [people already convicted].”
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