Chennai, September 10: After Tamil Nadu government on Sunday decided to recommend the release of all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to the governor under Article 161 of the Constitution, the Congress today condemned its decision. The party termed the assassination as an international terror conspiracy. All the seven convicts - Nalini, Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran are serving life terms and had been in jail for the last 27 years.
Here is the background of the seven convicts:
Nalini: She is the wife of Murugan, another convict in the case. According to reports, Nalini not only kept the women attackers, Suba and Dhanu in her house but also accompanied them to the rally of the then Prime Minister VP Singh in order to assess security arrangements for such events. She was involved in the preparations for the attack. She even took the two attackers to the garment store to buy clothes they wore on the day of the assassination. Nalini also led the team to the Sriperempudur rally of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Murugan: He was a part of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and was allegedly sent to India to carry out the assassination. At the time of the assassination, Murugan was 21 years old. He was a part of the 'suicide squad' and had come to India in January 1991. Murugan and team recced the then Prime Minister VP Singh’s rally to understand the security arrangements before attempting Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Murugan was the one who motivated Nalini to join the conspiracy. After the assassination, he along with Nalini went to Tirupati Temple. The court observed him as one of the key conspirators.
AG Perarivalan: He is the son of a Tamil poet and had been a part of the LTTE from 1989. Perarivalan was involved in the sale of LTTE literature. He even met LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE on his visit to Sri Lanka. He was also part of the team who conducted a recce of Singh’s rally. Perarivalan was also accused of preparing a sketch of the Vellore fort to free prisoners of the terror group and helping LTTE movement in India.
T. Suthenthiraraja (Santhan): He is a Sri Lankan national and was in his twenties at the time of the assassination. He was a close aide of the prime accused Sivarasan and was allegedly a member of LTTE’s intelligence wing. According to reports, LTTE paid his fees of the Madras Institute of Engineering Technology. He had also met with Sivarasan on the day of the assassination.
Robert Pious: He is a Sri Lankan Tamil who allegedly along with his wife and others landed in India in September 1990 as part of a batch of LTTE commandos. He in his confession admitted of being part of the conspiracy. Pious claimed that he took part in the conspiracy of assassinating Gandhi to take revenge for the death of his child due to atrocities perpetrated by the Indian Peace Keeping Force sent to Sri Lanka.
Jayakumar: He was also sent to India by the LTTE in 1990. Jayakumar is the brother-in-law of Pious. He allegedly arranged a house in Tamil Nadu where the other accused would stay and prepared the plan for the assassination.
Ravichandran: He is a Sri Lankan national. Ravichandran landed in India in December 1990 He and was funded by Sivarasan. As per reports, He was given money to set up a travel agency and buy a vehicle to facilitate travelling of other LTTE cadre.
The former PM was assassinated during an election rally in Sriperumbudur in May 1991. On August 10, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Even DMK president MK Stalin has demanded the release of Gandhi’s assassins, wants TN government to pass the resolution.