Seven pilliars, each featuring a human value surrounds the site of the blast, at the Rajiv Gandhi memorial
Seven pilliars, each featuring a human value surrounds the site of the blast, at the Rajiv Gandhi memorial Credit- CC-by-sa PlaneMad/Wikimedia

Repatriation of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convicts: Closure to a Long-standing Chapter

The Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission issued temporary travel documents valid till September 22, 2024 to the three Sri Lankan nationals.

Chennai- In a significant development, three individuals convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are being repatriated to Sri Lanka after their release from prison in 2022.

Sriharan alias Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar, who were implicated in the conspiracy orchestrated by the LTTE that led to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, are now being sent back.

The decision to repatriate them comes after the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday informed the High Court that the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission has issued temporary travel documents to the three released convicts in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, and they would be deported to their home country as soon as the Government of India clears them for travel.

The Additional PP Muniapparaj produced a letter written to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) on the matter by the Public department. According to the letter, the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission issued temporary travel documents valid till September 22, 2024 to the three Sri Lankan nationals.

The release of these individuals stems from a Supreme Court order on November 11, 2022, which directed the release of six convicts serving life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

However, upon their release, Nalini and Ravichandran were allowed to reunite with their families, whereas Sriharan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar, and Santhan - all Sri Lankan citizens - were detained in a special camp at Trichy Central Jail.

Santhan, one of the convicts, expressed his desire to return to Sri Lanka to meet his mother after 32 years of incarceration. Tragically, Santhan, recently died of liver-related complications as necessary clearance was being processed for his travel back to Sri Lanka as he had requested. His body was flown to the island country.

Following the disposal of Murugan's petition by the Madras High Court, it was confirmed that the travel documents issued by the Sri Lankan High Commission are valid for obtaining a deportation order from the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai.

The government has assured that once the deportation order is issued, the three individuals will be promptly sent back to Sri Lanka.

This development brings closure to a long-standing chapter in Indian history, raising questions about the depth of the conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the motives driving such tragic events.

Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, occurred due to a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, India on 21 May 1991. The attack, carried out by 22-year-old Kalaivani Rajaratnam (also known as Thenmozhi Rajaratnam or Dhanu), a member of the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist rebel organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), resulted in the deaths of at least 14 others, in addition to Rajiv Gandhi. This act took place shortly after India's involvement, through the Indian Peace Keeping Force, in the Sri Lankan Civil War had ended.

The court convicted and sentenced seven individuals involved in facilitating the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to life imprisonment. However, on November 11, 2022, the Supreme Court of India ordered the release of six convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This decision came after the Tamil Nadu government controversially recommended their remission in March 2016. The convicts released are:

1. Murugan alias Sriharan – A LTTE operative from Sri Lanka

2. Nalini – Wife of Murugan. Nalini is a citizen of India.

3. Santhan alias T. Suthenthiraraja – A Sri Lankan national.

4. Robert Pious – A Sri Lankan national.

5. Jayakumar – The brother-in-law of Robert Pious.

6. Ravichandran – A Sri Lankan national.

Additionally, A. G. Perarivalan, an Indian citizen arrested for supplying a 9-volt battery for the explosive device, remains incarcerated.

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