Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi on Monday appealed to the Centre and the State government to save the lives of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, the death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
In a statement here, Mr. Karunanidhi said the lives of the three youths were hanging in balance and the duty to help them at this crucial juncture had 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', said Mr. Karunanidhi.
The DMK leader also suggested that the sentence of death by hanging be annulled. “If they had really committed the offence, but they are now repentant and feeling sad, and given the fact that they have spent nearly 20 years in prison, which is longer than life imprisonment, the capital punishment to be imposed on them should be cancelled,” Mr. Karunanidhi said. The Tamil race would extol such a humanitarian action.
Contending that execution by hanging was basically against human rights and noting that many countries have scrapped the death penalty, he said it would be a harsher punishment, if an accused charged with murder was made to repent his deed, haunted by sadness for the rest of his life, than hanging him. “I have been insisting for the past several years that capital punishment should not be resorted to.”
Mr. Karunanidhi said he knew many who had been initially sentenced to die, but were later released, taking to a constructive way of life. As one of those responsible for their release, the former Chief Minister appealed to the Centre and State government to save the lives of the three youths from the clutches of death by taking “this not as an epistle but as a mercy petition”.
The DMK president said he was not willing to be drawn into politics with the ruling AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who had accused him of playing double role since it was the DMK government that adopted a resolution in April 19, 2000, seeking to commute the death sentence of Nalini, on the ground that she had given birth to a child, and not of the three others.