Rajiv Gandhi at a polling station in New Delhi during 1991 general elections. File / AFP
Nirmala Joseph, Correspondent
Reports have emerged that Sri Lankan Tamil AG Perarivalan, who has spent years in jail as a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, could soon be leaving jail.
His release is one of the issues that Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit discussed with Central leaders during his visit to Delhi this week, the officials confided.
The Supreme Court had earlier this week expressed dismay at the fact that a state government recommendation for the life convict's release had been pending with the governor for well over two years.
It is understood that Purohit discussed the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Both leaders have agreed that the delay in release hurts Tamil sentiments and could become an election issue, the official sources said.
The Centre will now have to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to release Perarivalan as the case was handled by the agency.
Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 in Sriperumbudur near Chennai when he was on campaign trail.
Convicts Nalini, Murugan, Chandan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Bios and P. Ravichandran were jailed for 29 years in connection with the murder.
The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and the state cabinet in 2018 sent a recommendation to the Governor recommending the release of the seven convicts.
The governor has not yet acted on that recommendation.
Purohit had sat with BJP state president L. Murugan for about half an hour before he flew to Delhi. He met Modi at his residence at 4.30 pm on Wednesday.
The convicts are said to have demanded not only their release, but also transfer to another state. At the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a bench consisting of Justices Nageswara Rao, Ajay Rastogi and Hemant Gupta said: "We do not want to exercise jurisdiction. But we're not happy with how this recommendation has been pending before the Governor for two years.”
DMK Chief and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin has written to Purohit to expedite their release.
Stalin wrote to Purohit on Wednesday, explaining that all seven convicts have been in prison for the last three decades.
"It is a must that a Constitutional authority should perform his duty within a reasonable timeframe,” the letter said.
CPI (M) leader and Lok Sabha member from Madurai S. Venkatesan has written to President Ram Nath Govind urging him to prevail upon Purohit to immediately release the seven convicts.
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