Karuna asks Jaya govt to seek clemency for Rajiv case convicts



Chennai: DMK President M Karunanidhi on Thursday urged the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu to adopt a cabinet resolution seeking clemency for the three death row convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assasination case as he pressed his demand for abolition of death penalty.

He said Jayalalithaa had been maintaining her inability to intervene in the issue and in August 2011 had said that the Governor had accepted a DMK cabinet decision in 2000 and confirmed the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.

"In the same way, Tamil Nadu government and Jayalalitha should adopt a cabinet resolution with the concern to save the three lives and send it to the Governor," he said in a letter to partymen.

The DMK patriarch recalled his remarks in 2011 that if he were alive today, Rajiv Gandhi himself would have commuted the death sentence of the three in line with DMK founder CN Annadurai's principles of "forget, forgive."

The execution of the three, fixed for September 9 2011 after their mercy petitions were rejected by the President, has been stayed by the Madras High Court. The case has since been transferred to the Supreme Court.

Karunanidhi said pleas were also being made from various quarters, including from his party, for commutation of death sentence to life term for alleged Veerappan aides who have now moved the Supreme Court.

The DMK chief said India and 38 other countries had opposed a resolution in the UN against death penalty in 2007 while 104 nations supported it and suggested India should join the majority league.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's statement that death row convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's plea for clemency was under the Centre's consideration has "consoled and given hope" to human rights activists, he said adding the Centre and states should work towards ending capital punishment as 'innocent should not be punished even if criminals get away.'

PTI