Strongly arguing for abolition of death sentence by India, Congress Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar on Saturday said the three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi killing should not be hanged but held in prison for their entire life.

Addressing a party meeting here, Mr. Aiyar said 139 countries had done away with capital punishment and last year 67 convicts were hanged in 22 countries but none in India.

Describing the assassination of the former prime minister as a ‘heinous crime and grave sin’, he said instead of being hanged, the three -- Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan -- should be made to spend rest of their lives in prison.

“If they get life sentence and are released they may kill another chief minister or prime minister. So for the sin committed by them, they should be ordered to be kept inside the prison till the end of their life,” he said.

Madras High Court last week stayed the execution of the three convicts fixed for September 9 after their mercy pleas were rejected by President Pratibha Patil.

Speaking at the meeting of local Congress functionaries convened to discuss the coming local body elections, Mr. Aiyar said the youth and the educated should be given an opportunity by the party to contest the election.

Referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to galvanise the Youth Congress, he said youngsters including women should take active part in politics.

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