Confident that TN Governor won't release convicts: Rajiv Gandhi suicide bomb attack survivor
While various parties like DMK, PMK and AIDMK have backed for the release of the seven life convicts, blast survivors and kin of the victims have heavily pinned their hopes on governor Purohit.
CHENNAI: The relative of a victim and a survivor of the 1991 suicide bomber attack which killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on Thursday said they are confident Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit will not release the seven life convicts in the assassination case.
However, parties, including the DMK, and relatives of the convicts demanded their immediate release. The Congress in Tamil Nadu said there should be no pressure on the Governor over the issue. Hours after the Supreme Court dismissed their plea objecting to the State government's 2014 decision recommending release of the seven convicts,they exuded confidence that justice will be done.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "All aspects were covered in the earlier constitution bench verdict in the case and therefore nothing survives in the case." S Abbas, coordinator of the families of victims and the petitioner in the case in the apex court, said the judgment saddened him. "We are consulting on aspects like possibility of preferring an appeal. We will take appropriate steps," he said.
Abbas, who is the son of Samdhani Begum, a Mahila Congress leader who was among those killed in the attack, said he and members of families of other victims were confident that Purohit will not release the convicts. "If at all they are going to be released eyeing vote bank politics, it will be tantamount to supporting terrorism and will be injustice," he told PTI.
He said people like him belong to marginalised sections of the society and hail from a very ordinary family. "Despite difficulties, we went to the level of Supreme Court to stop their release, what else can we do if they are going to be released what can we do? We pin our hope on God," he said.
"Leaders of political parties are supporting their release eyeing elections to four Assembly segments, it is regrettable," Abbas said.
Retired police officer Anusuya Daisy Ernest, a survivor of the attack, said the judgment saddened her, adding she and the victims' kin were contemplating on what could be done next. "I believe in God. We are confident the Governor will do justice for the victims, their families, survivors and all those who were affected by the terror attack that fateful day in 1991," Anusuya, who was a police sub-inspector then, said.
She was seriously injured in the attack and to this day has pellets embedded in her body which caused tremendous pain. Just ahead of the blast, Anusuya said, she had tried stopping the assassin Dhanu from coming close to Rajiv Gandhi.
She retired as additional police superintendent last year. The retired officer recalled a meeting she and the families of victims had with Purohit last year. "I explained to him the kind of pain I endure due to the serious injuries I sustained in the attack and pleaded with him along with others to not release the convicts," she said. "We trust the governor will not release them," she added.
Arputhammal, mother of Perarivalan, one of the convicts, said she was confident that the governor will release all the convicts and welcomed the judgment. Last year when she visited Purohit seeking the release of convicts, Arputhammal said, "Governor told me that he will do it (release the convicts). I have waited for eight months, and now after this judgment there is a conducive ambience for their release."
Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam told reporters in Madurai that the government has already taken all steps for their release, including apprising the Centre over the decision to set them free. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief KS Alagiri said there were so many Tamils in prisons for over 25 years and "all of them can be released including these seven convicts. We do not have a different opinion. However, there should be no pressure on either the court or the governor, they must not be forced. If the court says they can be released since they have spent long years in prison, TNCC will welcome it," he told reporters at Tirupur.
DMK president MK Stalin said he welcomed the apex court judgment dismissing a plea against the release of the seven Rajiv case convicts."On behalf of the DMK, I urge governor Purohit to immediately accept the Tamil Nadu Cabinet resolution recommending release of the seven convicts and issue an order for their release," he said, adding that there should be no further delay.
There was no bar for the governor now to decide under Article 161 (of the constitution relating to the governor's judicial powers) and there was no avenue either to attribute "any other reason," for not ordering their release, Stalin said.
PMK founder S Ramadoss said the release of convicts should not be delayed any more. "Unofficially, Raj Bhavan had cited this pending case in the Supreme Court against the release of the convicts. That case has now been dismissed and there is no bar for their release now," Ramadoss said.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991. The AIADMK government had in September 2018 recommended to the governor to release all seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.