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Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convicts Return Home

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convicts Return Home

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NEW DELHI, Apr 3: Their long wait to get their passports having ended, three men convicted for their role in the assassination of the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi left for Colombo on Wednesday morning.

All the three Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar were Sri Lankan nationals. They were among the six freed in November, 2022 by the Supreme Court, which had said they showed “satisfactory behaviour” while in jail and also noted the Tamil Nadu government had recommended their release.

All three men were escorted from a special camp in Tiruchirappalli – where they had been held after their release from jail – to Chennai International Airport by a team of police officers early Wednesday morning. They were recently granted passports by the Sri Lankan government.

One of the six – Murugan – is married to Nalini, an Indian citizen who was among the six released in 2022 on the Supreme Court’s orders. Nalini accompanied her husband to the airport; visuals showed her sitting with him for a few moments before he was taken into the terminal.

Three decades ago, an intervention by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, the late Prime Minister’s widow, spared Nalini’s life – she, and the others, had been sentenced to death – after it emerged she had been pregnant during the sentencing. Her daughter is now a doctor in the United Kingdom.

The death sentences of the others was commuted by the top court, citing an inordinate delay by the President in disposing off their mercy pleas. Nalini is attempting to secure a visa for the reunion with her daughter. Her brother, Packianathan said, “we hope Murugan will also get it from Colombo. They just want the family reunion.”

Another of the six released two years ago – Santhan – died in a Chennai hospital. He had been receiving treatment for a liver condition. He too was a Sri Lankan national. The first of the convicts released was Perarivalan, also an Indian citizen. He was released in May 2022.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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