Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M Karunanidhi on Thursday urged the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu to adopt a cabinet resolution seeking clemency for the three death row convicts in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case, as he pressed his demand for the abolition of the death penalty.
He said Jayalalithaa had been maintaining her inability to intervene in the issue. In August 2011, he had said that the governor had accepted a DMK cabinet decision in 2000 and confirmed the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.
"In the same way, the Tamil Nadu government and Jayalalitha should adopt a cabinet resolution with the concern to save the three lives and send it to the governor," he said in a letter to partymen.
The DMK patriarch recalled his remarks in 2011 that if he were alive today, Rajiv Gandhi himself would have commuted the death sentence of the three in line with DMK founder C N Annadurai's principles of "forget, forgive."
The execution of the three, fixed for September 9, 2011 after their mercy petitions were rejected by the President, has been stayed by the Madras high court. The case has since been transferred to the Supreme Court.
Karunanidhi said pleas were also being made from various quarters, including from his party, for the commutation of death sentence to life term for alleged Veerappan aides, who have now moved the Supreme Court.
The DMK chief said India and 38 other countries had opposed a resolution in the United Nations against the death penalty in 2007, while 104 nations supported it.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's statement -- that death row convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's plea for clemency was under the Centre's consideration -- has "consoled and given hope" to human rights activists, he said, adding the Centre and states should work towards ending capital punishment as “the innocent should not be punished even if criminals get away”.