Rahul Gandhi asks if killers of an Ex-PM are being released, what justice common man can expect
Amethi/New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who was on a visit to his parliamentary constituency Amethi on Wednesday, said he was sad over the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to release seven people convicted of killing his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"Rajiv Gandhi's killers are being set free, I am saddened by this. I am personally against the death penalty but this is not about my father. If a Prime Minister's killers are being released, what kind of justice should the common man expect?" Rahul Gandhi asked, hours after the Jayalalithaa government announced that all the convicts would be freed, a politically significant decision ahead of the national election, due by May.
The convicts have been in jail for 23 years. One of them, Nalini Sriharan, was granted mercy in 2000 on the intervention of Rahul Gandhi's mother and Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday spared three of the convicts, Nalini's husband Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, from execution, citing the 11-year delay in a decision on their mercy plea, and left it to the Tamil Nadu government to release them. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa acted fast, and gave the Centre three days to respond to her decision, after which, she said, she would invoke her own powers to free the convicts. Shortly after Rahul Gandhi's comments, the Congress party officially denounced the Jayalalithaa government's decision, calling it "irresponsible, perverse and populist."
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a woman operative of the Lankan Tamil separatist outfit LTTE, who greeted the Congress leader with a sandalwood garland and a bomb strapped to her chest during a rally in 1991. "Our grief arises out of the fact that Rajiv Gandhi was killed brutally. It's the decision of the Supreme Court... I am neither happy nor unhappy," union minister P Chidambaram, who is from Tamil Nadu, told NDTV. "I do not see this as cynical politics."
All India Congress Committee on Wednesday issued a formal statement condemning the state's move. The statement read, "The Congress Party condemns the decision of the Tamil Nadu cabinet to release the seven convicts charged of the assassination of former Prime Minster Shri Rajiv Gandhi and 17 other individuals by executing a barbaric and gruesome terrorist bombing act." AICC General Secretary Ajay Maken rebuked the decision saying that it would set a precedent for other states to take decisions beyond the law. Indicating that the Tamil Nadu Assembly's decision to free the convicts was a politically motivated one, Maken said in the statement, "It would by all means only serve as a precedent for other Chief Ministers constitutional functionaries to take decisions beyond the law- decisions that are politically motivated and irresponsible."