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What sense does freeing Rajiv Gandhi's killers make to the common Indian?

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 in Tamil Nadu during an election campaign. It was blamed on Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an insurgent group based in Sri Lanka. The terrorist outfit masterminded a suicide bomb attack on India's Prime Minister and killed him along with 18 others.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed the attack on Rajiv Gandhi as the attack on the soul of India.

During the civil war in Sri Lanka, India had deployed a Peace Keeping Force to help restore peace in the island nation. Rajiv Gandhi, the then PM had ordered the India's involvement in Sri Lanka, This was disliked by the LTTE and it considered to kill Rajiv Gandhi.

Sri Lankan population is divided into two ethnic groups: the Sinhalas and the Tamils. Sri Lankan Tamils demanded an Eelam or a separate homeland for them. This was because they were socially, politically and economically marginalized by the Sinhalese population.

The relationship between the Sinhalese and the Tamil communities has always remain strained since the country's independence from the British rule.

The rising ethnic tension led to the formation of the militant group advocating independence for Tamils. LTTE was one such group. When a civil war broke in Srilanka between LTTE and the government, India sent a peace keeping force (IPKF) there to halt war and restore peace. This was disliked by the LTTE and opposed the IPKF They subsequently took revenge by killing the Prime Minister of India. Along with Rajiv Gandhi some 18 others died in the bomb blast and many were injured in that event.

After a lengthy court trial, 7 people were convicted in this case and out of which 3 were sentenced to death and the other 4 were imprisoned for life.

Recently, the SC commuted the death sentence of three convicts citing inordinate delay in deciding their mercy plea. And within 48 hours of this decision, Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha announced release of all 7 convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Although the SC declined the release the prisoners and restrained the state government from releasing them, the event pike the common man consciousness.

The decision to free Rajiv Gandhi's killers has different impact for different people and can be divided into two groups: Tamils and non-Tamils.

There are a lot Tamils who are aggrieved at the plight of their Tamil fraternity in Sri Lanka. The news of release of prisoners brought joy to some people of Tamil Nadu. They considered it as a victory of the LTTE ideas. To them the release of the prisoners was a moment to celebrate.

For the non-Tamil population the decision came as a shock. Under the Indian constitution, India States do have power to release prisoners based on several grounds. However, for such a cause the criminals that have deliberately killed the Prime Minister of the country and 18 others do not deserve any amnesty.

There is no doubt that the decision of the state government was politically colored. If Prime Minister's killers are being released, then what kind of justice can a common man expect? The release of such prisoners will definitely set a wrong precedent in the country.

Rashmi Chaudhary

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