RP Ravichandran remarked that time will judge them as “innocents” in response to his release from prison in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after more than three decades. After leaving jail on Saturday, he made the comments.
Ravichandran – who along with five other convicts, including Nalini Sriharan, were released from prison, said that the people of north India should see them as “victims instead of terrorists or killers”.
“Time and power determine who is a terrorist or a freedom fighter, but time will judge us as innocent, even if we bear the blame for being terrorists,” he said.
In August, Nalini and Ravichandran petitioned the Supreme Court for early release. Since December 2021, both of them have been on parole. Their action followed the apex court’s May 18 decision to give bail to AG Perarivalan, another assassination case accused. In order to release Perarivalan at the time due to his bad health and good behaviour, the SC had invoked the extraordinary powers granted to it by Article 142 of the Constitution.
The top court freed the remaining six convicts in the case on Friday (November 11), including Nalini and Ravichandran. Its decision was consistent with the justifications given by the court for Perarivalan’s release.
Santhan, Ravichandran, Robert Payas, Perarivalan, Nalini, Murugan alias Sriharan, Santhan, and S. Jayakumar were all detained in 1991. Four of them are Sri Lankan nationals, including Sriharan, Nalini’s spouse.
Nalini, the longest-serving female prisoner in the nation, thanked the people of Tamil Nadu on Saturday for their support over the course of 32 years. She remarked, “I thank the state and Union government.”
Nalini further stated that she is not planning to meet anyone from the Gandhi family, stressing “there is no possibility” of that. “I want to be with my family…I will go wherever my husband goes. We were separated for 32 years. Our family kept waiting for us,” she said.
The Tamil Nadu government had previously advocated for the convicts’ early release, and after the SC’s ruling on Friday, chief minister MK Stalin said he “welcomed” the verdict.
Gandhi was killed by a woman suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an organisation with headquarters in Sri Lanka, on May 21, 1991, in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, during an election campaign. The development was largely attributed to his choice to send over 1,000 Indian military to Sri Lanka in 1987 in order to disarm Tamil militants before later pulling them out.
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