Five of them – Nalini Sriharan, her husband Murugan and Santhan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar – were formally released a day after the Supreme Court ordered the release of the remaining six life convicts after serving 31 years in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. He was released from Tamil Nadu prisons on Saturday evening. Convicted RP Ravichandran could also be released at any time.
“It’s a new life for me with my husband and daughter,” she said after coming out. “I thank the Tamil people for supporting me,” he said, but denied entering public life. He also thanked the state and central governments.
In May, the Supreme Court used its extraordinary powers to release AG Perarivalan, one of seven convicts. The court said on November 11 that the same applies to the rest of the decision. He noted that the Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended the release of the convicts to the Governor in 2018 and the Governor adhered to it.
This morning, on parole, Nalini Sriharan visited a local police station to celebrate her mandatory attendance. After completing the formalities in the special prison for women in Vellore, Nalini was released and went to the central prison where her husband V Sriharan, alias Murugan and Santhan were released.
Murugan and Santhan are both Sri Lankan nationals and therefore were taken by a police vehicle to a refugee camp in Tiruchirappalli in the province.
Two other Lankan nationals released from Puzhal prison – Robert Payas and Jayakumar – were taken to the refugee camp to be held there. Released in May, convict Perarivalan and his mother Arputhammal took these two in Puzhal prison.
It was not immediately clear whether Nalini would stay in Chennai or join her daughter in London. “He’s going to get a call about it,” his lawyer told PTI news agency. Asked about the fate of his wife, Murugan, the lawyer said that the state government would decide to deport him. The convict Santhan had already expressed his intention to return to Sri Lanka, he added.
When deciding on their release, the Supreme Court said that the convicts exhibited “satisfactory behavior”, earned degrees, wrote books, and participated in social work.
Congress vehemently opposed the Supreme Court’s decision to release Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins. He said the party disagreed with the views of Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, who took pity on the convicts.
In 2000, Nalini Sriharan’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Later in 2014, the sentences of six other convicts were also reduced and the then prime minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalitha recommended their release.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Tigers (LTTE) group during a public rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, on 21 May 1991. It was seen as retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987, but withdrew them after losing more than 1,200 men in the war.
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