TN Cong's veiled attack on DMK govt, flays 'political pressure' to get Rajiv case convicts released

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(Eds: Adds details, background) Chennai,May 21 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee on Friday said it does not agree with Chief Minister M K Stalin demanding that the Centre set free the seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination case life convicts and denounced what it called 'political pressure.' A day after Stalin wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking orders to release the convicts immediately, TNCC president K S Alagiri said his party does not concur with Stalin on this issue and him writing to Kovind.

'We do not agree to it,' Alagiri told reporters over the demand and Stalin writing to Kovind urging the release of convicts.

After paying floral tributes to a portrait of Rajiv Gandhi on the former Prime Minister's 30th death anniversary at the party headquarters here, Alagiri said convicts should not be differentiated on any basis, be it religion, caste, language or race.

Only the courts should award punishment for the guilty and also set convicts free and there must be 'no political pressure' on such matters and this is the stand of TNCC, he said.

Political pressure on such issues would in future lead to 'several undesirable happenings in society and there would be no law and order,' he said.

If the premise for seeking release of Rajiv case convicts was that they were Tamils and if the same yardstick was applied to all Tamils who have spent over 20-25 years in jails, it could then be a humanitarian ground for seeking early release, he said.

However, when this argument was used only for securing the release of seven Rajiv case prisoners, it does not appear to be just and hence unacceptable, he said.

'The Congress party does not welcome it and does not desire it (release of Rajiv case prisoners).' Over 100 Tamil prisoners were languishing in prisons in Tamil Nadu for over 25 years, he said, apparently wondering why the government wanted the release of only seven of them.

Asked about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi months ago stating that he had forgiven those responsible for the killing of his father Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Alagiri said pardoning was one thing and release of convicts was another thing.

'The court will not accept if an aggrieved person forgives one found guilty,' he said.

Alagiri also garlanded a statue of the late leader in the city and later visited the Sriperumbudur memorial -the spot where Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991 on May 21 at an election rally of the Congress party - and placed a wreath alongwith party leaders. He also distributed welfare assistance to beneficiaries.

Congress is an ally of the DMK and the national party won 18 out of the 25 seats it contested in the April 6 Assembly polls.

The DMK won 159 out of the 234 seats in the Assembly and captured power from the AIADMK, which garnered 66 segments and its allies, totally (PMK 5, BJP 4) nine.

Chief Minister M K Stalin, meanwhile, paid floral tributes to a portrait of Rajiv Gandhi in Tiruchirappalli.

Led by the CM,government officials took the anti-terrorism pledge in Madurai on the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,which is observed as anti-terrorism day.

Chief Secretary V Iraianbu and all other government officials similarly took the pledge. PTI VGN SS APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR