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Finally home - Released Rajiv Gandhi convicts return, but face more questioning in Sri Lanka

A group of three Tamils who were released after spending three decades in prison over the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi were finally reunited with their families, but faced further questioning from the Sri Lankan police on their arrival back on the island.

In an emotional reunion that eventually saw them embrace family and well wishers, the three men - V Murugan alias Srikaran, S Jeyakumar and B Robert Payas – were able to return after decades in Indian detention.

They three are among six who were freed in November 2022 by India’s Supreme Court. They had been held at a special camp in Tiruchirappalli following their release, whilst they awaited permission to return to their homeland. The men were finally taken to Chennai International Airport by a team of police officers early this morning.  

Family members and Tamil politicians were eagerly awaiting their arrival at Colombo. However, just moments after they had landed, Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar were taken away for questioning.

After almost 4 and half hours of questioning by Sri Lankan officials, the three were released.

Their journey home has not been easy. Though they had been released in 2022, the men had to wait months to be allowed to leave India. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier informed the Madras High Court they could travel back home once the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) issued a deportation order. The Sri Lankan High Commission also had to issue them travel documents.

Another fellow Eelam Tamil who was released over the assassination, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, was also waiting to return. But last month he died just days before he was due to leave India, having never seen his mother in Jaffna who had worked tirelessly to secure his release.

Following Santhan's death, pressure had grown on the Indian government to expedite the return of the other three men.

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