The three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, who faced a death sentence in 2011, had then expressed their disappointment with the former DMK Government in Tamil Nadu for not granting them clemency along with another convict Nalini.
In an exclusive interview at Vellore prison in 2011 they recalled the clemency to Nalini by the then DMK government in Tamil Nadu. They pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Government had acted on the letter sent by Sonia Gandhi, widow of Rajiv Gandhi, and provided clemency to Nalini alone, ignoring the other three.
Perarivalan in 2011 had said, “Sonia Gandhi had recommended clemency for all four – Santhan, Murugan, myself and Nalini. But the then DMK government granted clemency only to Nalini but ignored us. “
Santhan had said, “We do not wish to comment on the act of commuting the death sentence in the case of Nalini. We have no objection to that. We welcome it. However, we fail to understand why we were not given clemency. Everyone knew that we were innocent. In fact, the prosecution had made out a bigger case against Nalini and she was classified as A1. But we continued to have the death sentence against us. The then DMK Government could have provided us clemency too. We felt sad that they had ignored us. “
Murugan had said, “Just like they provided clemency to Nalini, they should have treated us also on par and given us clemency. Nalini is my wife and I am happy she got the relief. But Sonia Gandhi had written for all four of us. The then DMK government should have granted relief to us. We fail to understand why the DMK ignored us.”
On Sonia Gandhi’s letter and the doubts raised by some radical Tamil activists about her sincerity in this regard, Murugan said, “We are not here to go into the motives of the letter. The fact is that Sonia Gandhi had written to the then Tamil Nadu Government to grant us clemency. Her daughter Priyanka visited Nalini in prison and Sonia Gandhi also sent a recommendation for clemency. Our point is simple. The then Tamil Nadu Government could have used the letter and granted all four of us clemency. We are very disappointed the DMK Government did not do so.”
“Today, they are issuing statements that we should be given clemency. On the other hand, they had the opportunity when in government to act on Sonia Gandhi’s letter and provide us clemency. They failed to utilize that opportunity,” said Perarivalan in 2011.
It was only in 2014 that the Supreme Court, commuting their death sentence, changed it to life sentence.