Chennai: Congress president Rahul Gandhi threw cold water on the hopes of Arupthammal, mother of Perarivalan and scores of others, that he would come out with a strong statement in support of the demand for the release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Contrary to expectations, he made a distinction between the personal sentiments of his family on the issue and the rule of law, while concluding that law must take its course.
“We are quite forgiving people and we don’t have hatred or animosity towards anyone. This (assassination of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991) presents two issues – me and my family, which is personal; and the legal aspect. Law should take its own course. Whatever the course will be, we will be happy with it,” he told reporters here on Wednesday on the emotive issue, before leaving for Nagercoil to launch the UPA poll campaign.
“What is he saying? Why is he speaking like this? What about the trauma, the anguish of my innocent son languishing in jail for 28 years, and his family?” cried Arputhammal, after watching the Rahul media interaction on the TN news channels. The aged mother was visibly shattered finding the Congress president distancing himself from the popular public sentiment, particularly among his own allies such as the DMK, seeking the release of the seven convicts.
Several agitations were held in various parts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry by Arputhammal, along with members of various political parties and civil society, demanding that Governor Banwarilal Purohit should order the release of the seven convicts-Nalini, Murugan (Nalini's husband), Santhan, Perarivalan, Robert Payas, S. Jayakumar and Ravichandran. The State government had on Sept. 9, 2018, recommended the release of all the convicts under Article 161 of the Constitution and the file is pending in the Raj Bhavan.
Congress' allies--DMK, VCK, MDMK and the left parties--have been fighting for the release of the seven convicts, even accusing the AIADMK and BJP governments in Tamil Nadu and at the Centre of failing to heed Tamil sentiments on this emotive issue. Their argument has been that these seven were innocent of the crime, that the SIT investigation headed by D R Karthikeyan was seriously flawed and in any case, the seven convicts have served more years in jail than even hardened killers sentenced for similar crimes....