Chennai: With the Supreme Court tossing the ball into the Raj Bhavan at Chennai, most political leaders and social activists - barring a few in the Congress party – have once again raised their voice demanding that Governor Purohit forthwith order the release of the seven accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Leading the pro-release campaigners was DMK president M K Stalin who said the Governor "now has nothing to hold him back, no more excuses to offer". Governor must accept the strong recommendation made to him by the Government to release all the seven prisoners at once, said Stalin.
While all the other known supporters of the Eelam cause, such as MDMK chief Vaiko and VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan, made statements reiterating their anguish at the continued indifference on the part of the powers-that-be in keeping the convicts jailed, some functionaries in the state Congress party have been cautious, if not outright opposed to their release.
Among such critics was hardcore Congressman Americai Narayanan, who was one of the signatories in the petition that got thrown out by the Apex Court on Thursday - the other petitioners were from the traumatised families of the 14 persons who had perished along with Rajiv Gandhi in that gruesome suicide mission of the LTTE woman Dhanu. It is a painful verdict from the Supreme Court, said Narayanan.
His party colleagues, such as state Congress president KS Alagiri and former MP Peter Alphonse, pointed out that their leader Sonia Gandhi and her two children had already announced that they had forgiven the convicts. The last time Rahul Gandhi made a comment on this issue, he had reiterated the 'we have forgiven them' declaration but with a rider: the family would have nothing to do with what the court would decide on the issue.
Amid all this cacophony of statements and counter-statements, rose the familiar voice of Arputhammal, the never-say-die campaigner for son Arivu's release. Her anguish was palpable as she told the media persons, who flooded her with phone calls as soon as the Supreme Court verdict flashed on the news tickers in the morning, that she trusted the Governor would "at least now" sign the release order "without any further delay and without any further hesitation". By now quite familiar with not just the relevant provisions of law but also the Constitutional provisions related to the sticky issue, she asked bitterly, "If he (Governor) does not take the decision at least now, after this clear direction from the SC, what is the point in his staying in office? The Constitution gives him the power to order the release and the court has confirmed it too.”
Those who know Governor Purohit will vouch he will play no politics nor will he oblige any politician. In all likelihood, he will quickly consult the relevant legal luminaries and take his decision. One only hopes there will be no further delay in the release of these seven convicts.
One of them is a woman, Nalini, who along with her co-convict and husband Murugan has been pleading for release so that she could travel to England to arrange for the marriage of her daughter, who was born in the prison soon after the arrest way back some 28 years ago.