Rajiv Gandhi case-related developments invariably happened in May

Supreme Court verdict freeing Perarivalan is the latest addition

Updated - May 19, 2022 12:28 am IST

Published - May 18, 2022 11:59 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Rajiv Gandhi memorial at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district. File

The Rajiv Gandhi memorial at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district. File | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

The Supreme Court’s decision to release A.G. Perarivalan, a life convict in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case, is yet another addition to the “special coincidence” between the month of May and events and personalities associated with the case.

It was on the night of May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur that a ‘human bomb’ killed Rajiv Gandhi and 15 others, including a Superintendent of Police.

Exactly a year later — May 20, 1992 — the Special Investigation Team filed the charge sheet before the designated special court, constituted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). [The law was repealed in 1995]. The charge sheet narrated the sequence of events from July 1987, when the India-Lanka Accord was signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayawardene, to the Prime Minister’s assassination in 1991. Forty-one persons were listed as accused in the case, of whom three, including the chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, V. Prabhakaran, were in the category of ‘absconders’ and 12 dead. Twenty-six accused were charged for offences under various laws.

Seven years later, on May 11, 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence of only four persons — Nalini, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan — out of the 26 who were awarded the death sentence earlier by the trial court in January 1998. The apex court reduced to life imprisonment the sentence of three others — Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran - while setting free the remaining 19 persons.

Ten years later — in May 2009 — Sri Lanka’s civil war, which lasted over 25 years, came to an end. On exactly the same day [as May 18’s judgment] 13 years ago (May 18, 2009), the Sri Lankan authorities declared that Prabhakaran was dead.

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