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Updated: February 22, 2012 14:30 IST

These hard-core LTTE members see life through spiritual prism

S. Vijay Kumar
Comment (19)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
In this file photo, pictures of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts Murugan and Santhan are displayed during a rally in Vellore.
The Hindu In this file photo, pictures of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts Murugan and Santhan are displayed during a rally in Vellore.

I will straight head to the Himalayas after my release, says Santhan; Murugan has vowed to visit Meenakshi temple in Madurai with wife Nalini

Having lived under the hangman's shadow for years and coming close to the gallows on two occasions, Murugan alias Sriharan, Santhan and Perarivalan, facing the capital punishment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, do not appear overwhelmed by the fear of death.

When jail authorities told them early in September they should be prepared for the worst, the three remained confident that there could still be a way out.

“When we were let out of solitary confinement after the Madras High Court stayed the execution scheduled for September 9, many inmates hugged us with tears of joy. We now continue to live on, with the hope that one day we will be able to walk out free,” says Murugan.

At the Vellore central prison, where they are lodged in a high security block, the three have struck an emotional chord with the inmates. Santhan is the priest of the prison temple; he advises inmates on how spirituality, yoga and meditation can help in stress management. While Perarivalan teaches inmates computer applications and maintains the prison library, Murugan plays volleyball and other games with prisoners.

Even as uncertainty prevails and the noose dangles over them, they still talk about a life outside the prison.

“I will straight head to the Himalayas after my release… Going the spiritual way has helped me overcome the trauma of solitary confinement and the fear of execution for years. I am an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba,” says Santhan.

When this correspondent met him on October 25, Santhan, with holy ash spread across his forehead, said he hoped that God would not let him down and handed out a signed photograph of Sai Baba. The Sri Lankan national has no plan to return to his homeland since he has no family there and is not sure whether his parents are alive.

Murugan, also a Sri Lankan national, said he had vowed to visit the Meenakshi Sundareswar temple in Madurai, along with his wife Nalini, whose death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment. “We also want to visit the temple of our ‘kula deivam' [the family deity] near Jaffna. As a husband and father, I have many responsibilities to fulfil. Twenty years of incarceration has deprived my daughter of parental love and care. We hope to unite soon,” he says.

Murugan and Santhan, alleged to be hardcore members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's intelligence wing who provided logistics support for the assassination, claimed that they were falsely implicated because of the pressure on the investigating agency to fix them.

‘Turning point’

According to Murugan, the investigators assured him that the charges against him warranted only the minimum term in prison. “When we protested our arrest and denied the charges, the investigators assured all the three of us of the minimum term of imprisonment. But what we got was the death penalty. The resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly against our execution is a turning point in the struggle against the capital punishment in India. We are indebted to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for this.”

D.R. Kaarthikeyan, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation who headed the Special Investigation Team that probed the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, feels Parliament should convene a special session to debate and decide on whether or not India should abolish the death penalty.

“We should not be deciding on individual cases, and there should be no influence of language or religion as it would affect the unity of the nation. Personally, I will be happy if the death penalty is abolished in India as it has been done in over 130 countries. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth was the rule of law in primitive societies. The reformative style of punishment has come to the fore, of late. It is ultimately the collective responsibility of society to decide on this,” he told The Hindu.

When told that the three condemned prisoners desired to meet him, he said: “If they write to me making a request and the prison authorities have no objection to it, I don't mind meeting them. I have nothing against them, and I only did my duty.”

@Rajasekar: Some multi-disciplinary monitering agency was assigned to look into those aspects of the conspiracy. But we have never heard about the results of their investigation.

from:  Jagannath
Posted on: Nov 2, 2011 at 14:43 IST

@Jagannath, Thank u sir. That is what I was also suspecting. Somebody else was surely involved. Then those people also should be booked as criminals to know the real reason for the murder. Why nobody think in that line?

from:  R.Rajasekaran
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 23:19 IST

After the initial investigation, over 20 individuals were implicated and charged in the assassination conspiracy. The LTTE got the defendents some of the top lawyers money can buy and the number of defendents was whittled down to three individuals. George Fernandes, ex Defence Minister played a major role in securing their release. If not for the efforts of Dr Swamy, these three defendents would have walked free too. It is a sad testimony to the state of India where people who are implicated in the murder of a PM have the sympathies of a large segment of the population and of the political. establishment

from:  Angelo Peiris
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 23:02 IST

@Rajasekaran

There is a theory that some other organizations/Countries also are involved in this conspiracy and LTTE served as a mercenary in this plot. Remember that PLOT of Umamaheswaran attempted a failed coup in Maldives before that period as a part of their mercenary activities.

LTTE would have wanted a photographic proof to show to their masters that everything happened according to their plan.

The initial plan of Sivarajan group was to garland Rajiv in the meeting stage. But as he arrived late on the day the logistics committee modified the plan such that only a selected few would garland Rajiv on the way to Dias.As the plan changed at the last moment HariBabu would have had no clue regarding what to do and he had to meet his fate.

from:  Jagannath
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 19:35 IST

One thing which i could not understand in Rajiv Gandhi's murder for last 20 years is why the photographer Haribabu was asked to take photographs by LTTE? Could they not expect Haribabu also would be killed when he would be taking photos closely to Rajiv? If he would be killed, naturally that film and camera would be also lost and found out by policemen through which all the truth could come out. That is what actually happened? Had the camera was not found out it would have been very difficult to frame case against LTTE Was this could not be thought by LTTE? It is a great puzzle to me and anybody can explain?

from:  R. RAJA SEKARAN.
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:51 IST

How would convicted criminals in RG assassination case become 'alleged to be members' implying that they may be innocent.If you have a story of their reformation so be it.If you have a case for banning capital punishment so be it.But don't fool the people with cooked up conspiracy theories for which our land has no scarcity.The CBI has done an excellent job in implicating this fellows and the court has upheld the rule of law in country.Didnt expect this from The Hindu.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:48 IST

It is really shocking to see that the convicts are being freed.
As few people here claim that even judges do not have right to punish somebody to death, on what basis a criminal person gets the right to kill. Life is valuable to all. Everybody wants to live. If somebody has terminated sombody elses right to live, then why should he be not put to death. The least punishment a killer has to get is death and nothing less than that.
This works as the deterrent and people start to realise the value of life. Or else kill and roam free. This will just give birth to more and more killings. For sure the crime should be proved.And surely the killer can walk free if the relatives of the victim are willing to pardon him.

from:  azim
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:47 IST

I want Rajiv Gandhi and the other innocent people killed also to visit Himalayas and Meenakshi Temple with their relatives. I am sorry, but this kind of 'creating sympathy' for the culprits is very bad. They have done a crime and they should be punished as per the law of the land.

from:  Gopa Kumar S
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 15:35 IST

How many of you people know Trichy veluswamy , a Congress Politician and an important witness of Jain commission who has stated various points regarding the Raviv Gandhi's assassination. I should say the Sonia's government is trying to add 3 to the thousands of innocent tamils killed in Sri Lanka.

from:  Karthikeyan
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 14:03 IST

Excellent Article. HINDU should bring articles out-of-box to find why no congress leaders were killed in the incident and Why no congress leaders didn't come near Rajiv when he garlanded Indira Gandhi Statue in Sri Perumpudur. HINDU also should bring articles out-of-box to find why all the LTTE members were shot dead by our CBI team. Even if one was alive, today we will know the truth behind Rajiv Killing. (Please remember not all committed suicide in Bangalore, many were shot dead). LET US FIND THE TRUTH behind RAJIV ASSASINATION. Whether 1. Its a congress plot against RAJIV? 2. Its a SRILANKAN PLOT against RAJIV? Remember Some armed groups of Tamil were supporting Srilankan govt, they can also do this crime to tarnish LTTE and EELAM struggle). 3. Whether International conspiracy? The way this case has been handled, it clearly shows that no international parties are involved except SRILANKAN GOVT , LTTE and CONGRESS (INDIA).

from:  Edward
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 13:06 IST

never Expected The Hindu will Bat for hard-core LTTE members

from:  suresh
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 12:06 IST

@sathyamoorthy Let me refresh your memory. Those who killed Rajiv committed suicide long back. These three are falsely implicated for helping the perpetrators. No country has awarded capital punishment for those who helped others commit a crime. The hatred against Tamil people is the only rational reason for New Delhi's arrogant attitude i suppose.

from:  kalaiarasan
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 12:03 IST

With so many unanswered questions around Rajiv Gandhi's death, India should not take any risks executing the three. But on the other hand given India has already lost its moral high ground with the unconditional support to Sri Lanka's brutal war against the Tamil people, where over 40,000 Tamils have been killed in 2009 alone, we could execute these 3 and just can add 3 more to the total...

from:  Arun
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 11:55 IST

Media should always bring the words of families killed along with Rajiv Gandhi. I appreciate your title words 'hard-core LTTE members'. We know that many people are trying to create sympathy for these criminals. Justice must be done even though it is delayed. India is a century back in abolishing death penalty.

from:  sathyamoorthy
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 10:09 IST

The suggestion in the above article for the Parliament to convene a special session to debate the issue of death penalty to these three condemned prisoners is not tenable one and is to be rejected outright. It is for the executive to decide what to do in the circumstances.

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 09:17 IST

I sincerely feel that no human being has the right to condemn someone to death including the learned judges.In as much as the death of someone is purely the will of his Creator and that is why,it remains a guarded secret until it happens,it is definitely against the will of God to hang someone irrespective of the crime committed by him/ her.In the case of the three in question,it would be heinous,barbaric and more criminal if they are put to gallows after torturing them to lie in miserable mental agony every day awaiting death during decades of their detention in jail.Let us behave human and allow them to live and lead a peaceful and spiritual life full of remorse and gratitude to all concerned who have pardoned them to be alive,till they are called back by their Creator.

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 08:59 IST

What happened to the conspiracy angle in this case. The real culprits are ruling this country. Poor fellows are facing death.

from:  siva
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 07:33 IST

Alas after becoming so popular worldwide through their actions now they make news! what about the families of those killed along with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. individually i do not have anything against any convicts be it assassins or pic pockets. But is there any value for the law in our land. Having been convicted by the highest court of land and confirmed by the highest person in the land( by turning down the mercy petition) what is so important about these convicts in bringing so much about their wishes. I think these things will happen only in India. Take the case of Libya a few days ago and have your feeling after seeing the world.

from:  hari
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 05:25 IST

These people had fallen prey to vicious and murderous politics and propaganda of selfish politicians -- these people were mere pawns in the entire issue.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 01:54 IST
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