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Outfits flay Governor for sending convicts’ file to Centre
Days after Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts, political parties in the State and pro-Tamil outfits have criticised the decision of Governor Banwarilal Purohit to send the cabinet’s recommendation to the Centre.
Government sources said Purohit had sent the files containing details about the seven convicts along with the State’s recommendation to the Central government on Thursday.
Terming the decision to refer the issue to the Centre as a “slight” to Tamil people, T Velmurugan of the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi said it was against the Constitution as well.
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 the 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 Purohit to accord his approval and go by the law, his party would hold a “besiege Raj Bhavan” protest on September 26, Velmurugan said.
Tamil outfit Tamil Desiya Periyakkam said Purohit 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 Bharathi 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 said.
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.
CPI State secretary R Mutharasan dubbed Purohit’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.
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.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar on Thursday said the State government was confident that Purohit 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.
‘Pained’ mother appeals for release of Santhan
Maheswari, mother of Santhan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, sent a letter to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday urging him to expedite the release of her son.
“You (Palaniswami) have used your power and had recommended the release of my son. Our family will always be thankful to you for all your help. Make sure that my son is released at the earliest,” wrote Maheswari, who currently resides in Jaffna in Sri Lanka.
In the letter, she stated her son was lodged in prison for 27 years and that her family gets stressed whenever they hear the news of his capital punishment.
“Every day we lived in hell knowing his condition in the prison. His father, Thillaiambalam, had died due to heart attack in 2013 due to the condition of our son,” said Maheswari.
In another letter addressed to State Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Maheswari said that she is 72 and is in her final years.
“I want you to understand the pain of a mother. Free my son immediately so that he can take care of me in my final years,” she said.
Maheswari also said that she had seen him last in 1991 and the family is pained at his lengthy prison term.
“Every time we hear the news of Santhan about to be hung, we too decided to end our lives, which has become miserable,” said Maheswari.
Maheswari has also written similar letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and State Law Minister C V Shanmugam.