The Tamil Nadu Government, in a suo motu statement to the State Assembly on Wednesday said it has decided to release the 7 prisoners, now imprisoned to lifetime in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The decision comes as the Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to commute the death sentence on Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan to life imprisonment. In the meantime, the family of Thilliampalam Suthenthiraraja (Santhan), one of the three victims, thanked the people of Tamil Nadu and the global Tamil community for their struggle for the release of the innocent victims and said their only hope now was the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa. We will never forget the supreme sacrifices of Chengkodi and Muththukkumar seeking justice, the family said from Jaffna.
The mother, sister and brother of Santhan, told their story from Ilakka’naa-vaththai in Uduppiddi, Jaffna, also revealing that Santhan had gone to India to go abroad to earn money and look after his siblings as the poverty stricken family was dependent on selling string hoppers to survive in the early 90s. Santhan’s father had passed away last year. The only hope of the mother was to see Santhan reuniting with the family before her demise.
The TADA court of the Indian Establishment convicted 26 persons. Apart from those who were released later, four persons, Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan were facing death sentences. Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment as she gave birth inside the prison in year 2000.
Santhan was never part of any armed or political activity. He was victimized by the Indian Judiciary as his name or contact address was in a diary of an alleged assassin, the family says.
The President of India earlier rejected the clemency appeals of Perarivalan of Tamil Nadu and the two Eezham Tamils, Murugan and Santhan.
The remaining four imprisoned with life sentences are Nalini, who is the wife of Murugan, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Jeyakumar.
In August 2011, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding the President of India to reconsider the clemency appeals of the three Tamils, respecting the sentiments of the people and political parties of Tamil Nadu.
The Sumpreme Court of India in its verdict on Tuesday had said that the State government could apply its power under Sections 432 and 433 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday decided to release all the 7 taking into consideration that they have already spent 23 years in prison.