October 6th, 2011
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Karunanidhi pleads for Rajiv assasins

karunanidhiChennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene and to take necessary steps to release the Rajiv Gandhi assassins who are on the death row.
In a statement, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister said the three convicts — Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan — had been languishing in prison for more than 20 years after being awarded capital punishment.

“Despite pleas by many to the Tamil Nadu government to pass a Cabinet resolution to recommend to the Governor to commute their sentences, no steps have been taken. At least the Centre should do so. I urge the Prime Minister and UPA chairperson to do the needful,” he said.

In 2000, however, when Mr Karunanidhi was in power, the Tamil Nadu Assembly had recommended the death sentence for the same trio. There are reasons to believe that these sudden burst of emotions is to awaken the Tamil sentiments and to cater to voters. This is being considered as a ploy to win votes for the upcoming elections.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991. Fourteen other people also lost their lives in the blast. In 1999, three convicts – Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan – were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for being part of the group that conspired to kill the former Prime Minister. They were scheduled to be hanged on September 9. But the Madras High Court suspended their execution by eight weeks. Their mercy petitions, filed 11 years ago asking for their sentence to be commuted to life in prison, have been rejected by President Pratibha Patil.

Last month, the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution urging President Patil to reconsider the mercy petitions. The resolution was moved by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The Chief Minister was prompted to change her stand by the open support for the assassins’ case stated by her arch political rival Mr Karunanidhi. “Had young leader Rajiv Gandhi been alive today, that noble man would have definitely come forward to save the lives of Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan, responding to the voice of true Tamils,” he had said before.



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