Indian PM opposes release of Rajiv Gandhi killers

NEW DELHI, February 20, 2014 (AFP) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh denounced plans to free former premier Rajiv Gandhi’s killers as an attack on the nation’s soul Thursday as his government launched a legal battle to stop their release. Seven Tamil extremists are due to walk free from prison by this weekend after the chief minister of Tamil Nadu state on Wednesday ordered their release, provided there was no objection from Singh’s government.

The order from Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa came a day after the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence handed down to three of the seven people convicted over their role in the 1991 assassination in her state.

But in his first intervention in the case, Singh said the release of the seven “would be contrary to all principles of justice”.
“The assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India,” Singh said in a statement.

“No government or party should be soft in our fight against terrorism,” he added.

Singh confirmed in his statement that the government had lodged a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the release which is expected to be heard by judges later Thursday.

Rajiv Gandhi, whose widow Sonia is now president of Singh’s Congress pa