Days after Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended the release of Rajiv
Gandhi assassination case convicts, pro-Tamil outfits Thursday
claimed Governor Banwarilal Purohit has forwarded it to the
Centre and demanded that all seven be set free forthwith.
Though there was no official word on it from Raj Bhavan,
Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi led by T Velmurugan claimed
Purohit had sent the cabinet’s recommendation to the Centre,
calling it against the Constitution and a “slight” to Tamil
A former MLA, Velmurugan said it was only to avoid legal
complications that their release was contemplated under Article
161 of the Constitution by the state. The Supreme Court had
also disposed of a related case recently which was earlier a
“stumbling block” in freeing the convicts, he said.
Disposing of a petition by the Centre, the Supreme Court had
said on September 6 that Tamil Nadu governor was at liberty to
decide the mercy petition of A G Perarivalan, one of the
convicts. Under such circumstances, he said, the governor
should “give his approval for the release of the convicts and
abide by the law “.
To urge the governor to accord his approval and go by the law,
his party would hold a “besiege Raj Bhavan” protest on
September 26, he said. When approached to ascertain whether
Purohit has forwarded the state’s recommendation to the Centre,
a Raj Bhavan official said, “It’s confidential and we cannot
comment on it”.
Tamil Nadu Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam said there was no formal
word on it. “There is no official communique on it,” Shanmugam
said in a terse reply. “Under Article 161, the governor of a
state has full powers to decide on the recommendations of the
state Cabinet,” the minister said on the sidelines of a
function in Cuddalore.
Tamil outfit “Tamil Desiya Periyakkam” said the governor
sending the recommendation to the union home ministry raises
suspicion if he was succumbing to “North Indian political
pressures”. Under Article 161, the governor cannot exercise his
personal discretion and has to just implement the Cabinet’s
decision, it said.
DMK organising secretary and Rajya Sabha MP R S Barathi backed
the release of the convicts and said he felt there was no need
to take up the matter with the Centre. “In my opinion, sending
the recommendation to the central government is not necessary.
The Supreme Court’s direction should be followed,” he told PTI.
When the Supreme Court has given its direction, the governor
has to act accordingly, he said, adding it is “crystal clear”
that the apex court has ruled that the state government can
take a decision on the issue. The state’s ruling AIADMK, since
the days of late J Jayalalithaa, has been for releasing all the
CPI state secretary R Mutharasan dubbed the governor’s action
as “delaying tactic”. “It seems to have been done with the
ulterior motive of denying them freedom,” he said, adding the
sentiments of Tamil people should be respected. The Congress
had, however, deprecated the state government’s recommendation.
“There can be no compromise on terrorism and terrorists. The
state cannot derelict its duty on punishing terrorists.
“There can be no politics over Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins as SC
hasn’t granted any relief to them. It’s time the government
takes a cue and follows the same line,” Congress spokesman
Randeep Surjewala had said soon after the Tamil Nadu government
made the recommendation. While the mainstream parties and
pro-Tamil outfits staunchly support the release, families of
the victims of the blast in 1991 have opposed the move.
Coming together, the families of victims led by the coordinator
of their forum S Abbas, whose mother was among those killed,
have sought an appointment with the governor to present their
views. The Tamil Nadu government had said on Thursday it was
confident that the governor will respect people’s feelings
which reflect in the cabinet’s recommendation.
In its recommendation, the state cabinet said all the seven
convicts–Nalini, her husband Sriharan alias Murugan,
Perarivalan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Santhan–
should be released. Murugan, Santhan, Jayakumar and Payas are
Sri Lankan Tamils.
All the seven convicts are serving life imprisonment and are
behind bars since 1991. Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a blast at
an election rally in Sriperumbudur near here on May 21, 1991.
Fourteen others, including Dhanu, the assassin, were also