Killers of ex-Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi released after court order | News

The offenders were released on the grounds of “satisfactory conduct” in prison and their 30 years in prison.

The last of the co-conspirators jailed for the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have been released, a day after India’s Supreme Court ordered it.

Gandhi, 46, was killed by a female suicide bomber at an election rally in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as part of a plot by Sri Lanka’s armed separatist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

India’s Supreme Court allowed the release of the six convicts, citing their “satisfactory performance” in prison and that they had served more than 30 years in prison.

Three of the six – Nalini Sriharan, her husband Murugan and Santhan – arrived on Saturday from two prisons in Vellore, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the regional capital Chennai, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. released.

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“This is a new life for my husband and daughter. I am grateful to the Tamils ​​for supporting me for over 30 years. I am grateful to the state and central government,” Sri Haran told NDTV after his release.

Local media said the others – Robert Pais, Jakumar and Ravi Chandran – had been released from prisons in Chennai and Madurai in the same state.

Three of the six offenders released on Saturday were initially sentenced to death before their sentences were commuted.

Gandhi became India’s youngest prime minister after his mother and predecessor Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguard in 1984.

Rajiv Gandhi profile picture
On May 16, 1991, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi delivered a speech [File: AFP]

The Gandhi dynasty has been at the helm of the Congress party, which has dominated Indian politics for decades, Rajiv’s widow Sonia remains the most powerful figure in the group, and their 52-year-old son Rahul is seen as prime minister The main challenger to Narendra Modi.

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Last month, the party elected 80-year-old former minister Mallikarjun Kharge as the first non-Gandhi president in 24 years to reverse its electoral slide.

Rajiv’s killing was seen as a response to his move in 1987 to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka to disarm Tamil rebels. Before the withdrawal, India lost more than 1,000 people against entrenched rebels.

The Congress Party denounced the court’s decision as “completely unacceptable” and “completely wrong”.

“The most unfortunate thing is that the Supreme Court’s action on this issue is not in the spirit of India,” the party said in a statement from senior Twitter member Jeram Ramesh.

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India has a large Tamil population, and the state government of Tamil Nadu has repeatedly called for the release of the criminals.

Earlier this year, the court released AG Perarivalan, another criminal involved in the assassination who had previously faced execution, and the state’s chief minister, MK Stalin, a key ally of Congress, hugged him after his release.

Gandhi’s son has talked for years about how he and his sister Priyanka forgave their father’s killer.

The Indian Express quoted Rahul in 2018 as saying: “We are very upset and hurt, we are very angry over the years.” But he said, “in fact, completely”, they have forgiven them.


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