Rajat Sharma’s Blog | The release of Rajiv’s killers: the riddle before the Gandhi family. Rajat Sharma’s Blog Release of Rajiv killers Gandhi family faces a conundrum

India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma- India TV Hindi News

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India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Rajat Sharma

The Supreme Court’s Friday order to release all the six convicts serving life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has shocked the entire nation. This was no ordinary criminal case. The former Prime Minister of India was assassinated in a dastardly suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991. It was a terrorist attack against India.

Since the matter is 31 years old, I will elaborate on it. On January 28, 1998, the TADA court had sentenced all 26 convicts to death for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. On May 11, 1999, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences for Nalini, Sriharan, Santhan and Perarivalan and awarded death sentences to Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran. It nullified the death sentences awarded to 19 others.

The next year, on April 19, 2000, the Tamil Nadu government recommended the commute of Nalini’s death sentence to life imprisonment, and this was approved by the governor. A week later, Sriharan, Santhan and Perarivalan filed a mercy petition with the President. The matter remained in limbo for 14 years. On February 18, 2014, the Supreme Court cited long delays by the Center in deciding mercy petitions and commuted the death sentences of these three convicts to life imprisonment.

From 2014 to 2018, the Union Home Ministry refused to approve the Tamil Nadu government’s decision for the premature release of all seven life imprisonment convicts. On May 18 this year, the Supreme Court, using its special powers, ordered the release of Perarivalan. In August this year, Nalini and Ravichandran moved the Supreme Court, seeking their premature release.

In short, one by one, all the convicts, who were sentenced to death, were commuted to life imprisonment and on Friday, the Supreme Court ordered the release of all the seven convicts. He was immediately released from jails in Tamil Nadu. Rajiv Gandhi’s killers will now roam freely in India.

This is nothing but an attack on our entire system, our judiciary and our executive. The Supreme Court’s order on Friday raises many questions.

The first question that arises is whether the Supreme Court, in exercise of its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, can order the release of life imprisonment convicts? The second question is whether the order of the Center will follow in this matter or will the demand of the state government be accepted? The third question is whether the state government has the right to pardon the terrorists in a serious case like the assassination of the former PM? Should there be politics in such matters?

The most surprising thing is that Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had publicly said that all the killers should be forgiven. But the Congress party said on Friday that the Supreme Court’s decision was bad in law. “It was totally unacceptable, totally wrong”, and was not in line with the spirit of India.

Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, the party disagrees with the views of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. The Congress party said it will take all legal measures to challenge the release of the convicts, as the Supreme Court order raises questions on how to deal with similar claims that may arise in future. DMK, which has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, is in power in Tamil Nadu. It has an alliance with the Congress, but Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s government fought hard for the release of the convicts.

Now let us look at what a division bench of Supreme Court Justice BR Gavai and Justice BV Nagarathna said while releasing the convicts. He referred to an earlier Supreme Court order dated May 18, 2022, in which the court had exercised special powers to release AG Perarivalan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court on Friday said that six other life prisoners Nalini Sriharan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan alias T Suthendraraja, B Ropert Payas, Jayakumar and P Ravichandran are also in the same condition as they have spent more than 30 years in jail. Their conduct in the prison was satisfactory and they all did many studies and completed the course inside the jail. The Supreme Court cited the charitable work done by Ravichandran and also noted the fact that Nalini was a woman and Payas and Suthendraraja were suffering from various ailments.

The bench said, the factors due to which the Supreme Court passed the order of Perarivalan’s release are directly applicable to other convicts also. “We direct that the appellants be released forthwith,” the bench said.

On May 18, 2022, the Supreme Court, exercising its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142, ordered the release of Perarivalan and it was a matter of time to release the remaining six convicts.

Fireworks went off outside Nalini’s house in Tamil Nadu on Friday when Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi was protesting the Supreme Court order in Delhi. The relatives of the convicts were waiting outside Vellore Jail for the release of the convicts. People danced in joy and distributed sweets. The president of a local party TPDK distributed sweets to people on the streets of Vellore.

It is true that on 19 March 2008, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met Nalini Sriharan in Vellore Jail and later said that she had forgiven all the killers of her late father. On Friday night in my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, we also showed the video of Priyanka, in which she is seen asking to forgive the killers.

Priyanka Gandhi said, ‘When my father was murdered, I was angry, not only with the killers but with the whole world. But this anger did not last long. As you get older, the anger subsides. I have come to understand that there is no use in always being in the situation of victimhood, in always thinking of myself as a victim. When you realize that not only you but the person in front is also the victim of the situation, then you have the power to forgive, and your victimhood disappears.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the Modi government had opposed the release of the convicts and that its and the previous Congress governments had similar views. But it is also a fact that the views of the Gandhi family and the Congress party differ on this issue. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said the release of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers brought shame to the Indian law and order. He said that the Modi government did not defend the case properly. But BJP leaders said that the members of the Gandhi family themselves have publicly spoken about pardoning the killers.

Rahul Gandhi also said in an interview at Cambridge University in the UK this year that he has forgiven his father’s killers. He was asked that you have been a victim of violence, your grandmother and father were murdered, what do you think about this. In response, Rahul had said, ‘The only thing that comes to my mind is apology. There can be no greater pain for a son than the murder of his father, but the important lessons this incident taught me in life could not have been learned under normal circumstances.

Today for the first time we saw such a wonder where Congress’s opinion is with the Modi government and against the Gandhi family. This is really surprising. There should not have been two opinions in the matter that those who brutally murdered the former Prime Minister of the country, they should be punished. Their terrorist designs put the whole country to shame in front of the world. They should get the harshest punishment. The court also decided who committed the murder, who was involved in the conspiracy. The matter reached the Supreme Court. The investigation went on for years, but those sentenced to death were commuted to life imprisonment.

The first surprise came when Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi appealed to forgive the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. Surprised for the second time today, Congress spokespersons protested against the Supreme Court pardoning the killers. The third surprising thing, as I said in the beginning, is that the views of the Modi government and the Congress party are one and that of the Gandhi family.

Till now no one has been able to explain why Rahul and Priyanka have spoken of pardoning their father’s killers. Why did Sonia Gandhi appeal to pardon her husband’s killers? She was the President of Congress at the time when Sonia Gandhi made this appeal. How can the opinion of a party president differ from that of his own party?

These are questions that will be difficult for Congress to answer. But one thing is for sure that the pardoning of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers will hurt crores of Congress workers, their sentiments will be hurt. It will be difficult for Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka to explain this to the party workers. But, now it will become a big political issue in Tamil Nadu. First of all, the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had decided to release the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. At that time, this decision could not be implemented due to the opposition of the central government.

In 2021 M.K. Stalin also wrote a letter to the Center for the release of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. In the coming times, there is going to be a competition between AIADMK and DMK to take credit for the release of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. When the Supreme Court verdict came on Friday, Stalin was welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had arrived in Tamil Nadu to launch several big projects.

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