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1,000 Youth Congress activists to fast against Tamil Nadu assembly resolution

Monday September 05, 2011 08:34:22 PM, IANS

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Chennai: Around 1,000 members of the Tamil Nadu Youth Congress will go on a day-long fast Tuesday to demand the withdrawal of the state assembly resolution asking President Pratibha Patil to reconsider her rejection of the mercy petitions of the three men sentenced to death for conspiring in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

"Around 1,000 youth-wing members of the Congress are expected to participate in the fast," Tamil Nadu Youth Congress President M. Yuvaraja told IANS. "We are yet to get permission from the state police. But whether we get permission or not, we will stage our fast."

He further said, "Fourteen people were killed along with Rajiv Gandhi. Are the lives of patriots less important than that of three terrorists?"

Faulting Chief Minster J. Jayalaltihaa for moving the resolution, he said: "What she did is wrong and we did not expect that from her. All these years she has been saying that her life is under LTTE threat."

He also wondered whether the politicians who demand commutation of the death sentences would behave similarly if their party leader got killed.

"Just because a court held Jayalalithaa guilty in a case, AIADMK cadres burnt alive three innocent girl students near Dharmapuri some years ago," he added.

According to him, the family members of a Congressman who was killed along with Gandhi at Sriperumbudur May 21, 1991, will be present at the fast.

"We are also planning a protest September 9," he said. "We expect senior party members to join us that day. On September 12, we plan to hold protests in all district headquarters to press our demand."

According to him, the Tamil Nadu Assembly has set a bad precedent for other states by passing the resolution.

"It seems that the three terrorists have become heroes now, whereas former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and 14 other Indians have become villains," Yuvaraja said.

A woman suicide bomber blew herself up, killing Gandhi, prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai May 21, 1991.

In 1998, all the 26 accused in the case - including the three - were sentenced to die by a special trial court for Gandhi's killing.

In 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of four: Murugan alias Sriharan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu and Nalini, an Indian woman who had assisted the killer squad. The capital punishment of the others was reduced to varying terms of imprisonment.

The death sentence of Nalini, who became a mother in prison, was commuted to life imprisonment after her mercy petition was accepted. The petition had the recommendation of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's widow.

Soon after the confirmation of their sentence, they made a mercy plea to the Indian president, which was rejected and their hanging date was fixed as Sep 9, resulting in a demand for cancellation from various political parties, including the DMK.

On Aug 30, the Madras High Court stayed the Sept 9 hanging for eight weeks and the state assembly passed a resolution asking the president to review the mercy petitions.



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