Statement of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi
There is no one who has not expressed the view that death sentence by hanging is unnecessary; as it is basically against human rights and humanitarianism and that many countries have scrapped this penalty. No greater useful purpose is going to be served than the one allowing the accused ordered to be hanged to feel repentent throughout his life instead of actually hanging him to death.
It would be harsher if an accused who is charged of murder repents for what he has done and haunted by worries and sadness for the rest of his life than the penalty of hanging him to death. This would provide him an oppourtunity to mend his ways of his life. Based on this, for the past several years I have been insisting that capital punishment should not be resorted to.
In regard to the Sri Lankan issue, from the days when those who were fighting for Tamil Eelam were tortured in Vellikada Prison and put to death and the Tamil Eelam Freedom Fighters and innocent Tamils were attacked and killed by the Sinhalese Army and when these gruesome incidents made us to float in an ocean of tears; we did not remain silent saying that such things are quite common in war.
Everyone is aware of the heart-rending letters, we wrote to the Central Government and various representations we made personally to the Prime Minister and other Indian leaders. If anyone pretends ignorance of these steps we have taken, it is politics, nothing else. We don't wish to discuss this and moreover this is not the time to discuss.
Forgetting all such things of the past, the only problem piercing our heart and which is the foremost priority is saving the lives of three Tamil youths. Their lives are hanging in balance and the duty to help them at this crucial juncture has taken gigantic proportions. We have to take the responsibility of saving these three youths who are to be taken to gallows. Had the young leader, Rajiv Gandhi been alive today, that Noble man would have definitely come forward to save the lives of Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan, responding to the voice of True Tamils and in accordance with the golden saying of anna, 'Forget and Forgive'. The sentence of death by hanging may be amended. If they had really committed the offence, as they are repentent and feeling sad and as they have spent nearly 20 years in prison which is more than the life imprisonment, the Capital punishment now proposed to be imposed on them should be cancelled. If this is done the entire Tamil race will extold such humanitarian action and they will be happy.
I have known persons on whom capital punishment was imposed and later released, who have taken a constructive way of life and pursue it even now. I am one of those responsible for their release. On this basis I fervently appeal to the Central and State Governments to save the lives of the three youths from the clutches of death, taking this not as an Epistle, but as a Mercy Petition.