At 10.30 am on Tuesday, the three death row convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in the Vellore Central Prison burst into happiness after a news channel flashed the news that they have been waiting to hear for years -- commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment.
Prison officials said V Sriharan (alias) Murugan, Shanthan and A G Perarivalan (alias) Arivu were glued to a television set near their cell from 10 a.m.
As news of the three-member bench of the Supreme Court commuting their death sentence came in, they went around the prison sharing their happiness with fellow inmates and prison personnel. Ever since the SC’s three-member bench commuted the death sentence of 15 death row convicts into life imprisonment, citing inexplicable and inordinate delay of their mercy pleas, the trio was expecting similar judgement in their case too.
“Filled with hope, the three sat in front of the television, unlike any other day, before 10 am. The minute they saw the news (commutation of their death sentence to life), they were filled with boundless joy,” said a prison official.
Additional Superintendent of Prison Krishna Kumar went to convey the information about the court verdict and called them around 10.45 am. But they told him that they had already watched the news on the TV, said a prison official.
Shanthan and Perarivalan were confident and determined that their lives would not end behind bars, the official said. “On the other hand, Murugan remains calm and often offers prayers in a temple inside the prison,” he added.
Meanwhile, about 50 cadres of Naam Thamilar Katchi that campaigned against the death penalty gathered in front of the prison and burst crackers.