Tamil politicians across Eelam have joined calls to repatriate Santhan, one of the seven released convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who remains in an Indian prison, due to his deteriorating health.
Santhan was convicted with six others for allegedly facilitating the assassination of the former Indian premier. However, in November 2022, the High Court released all seven individuals. Subsequently, they were transferred to the Special Camp, a detention centre for foreigners located in Trichy Central Jail, where they have been held since November 2022. Santhan and the others have spent nearly 32 years in incarceration.
Recently, Santhan fell seriously ill and was admitted to a government hospital in Chennai for treatment. As his health continued to worsen he was then transferred to a government hospital in Trichy. Reports indicate that Santhan is grappling with severe liver and kidney problems. Santhan last requested the court help him obtain his travel documents so he could be sent to Sri Lanka where he wants to be with his aged mother.
The Tamil National People’s Front issued a communique signed by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Selvarasa Gajendran saying that immediate measures must be taken to reunite Santhan with his family and give him the medical treatment he deserves.
சாந்தன் அவர்களை சிகிச்சையளிப்பதற்கும், குடும்பத்தினருடன் இணைக்கவும் உடனடி நடவடிக்கை எடுக்க வேண்டும் pic.twitter.com/QFdlDhAwIL
— Selvarajah Kajendren MP (@skajendren) January 29, 2024
The release states that although Santhan and six others have been released of all charges, they are still being held at the special detention centre and all of their requests to be sent back home to their families have gone unanswered. The TNPF has appealed to Indian authorities to swiftly expedite the issuance of travel documents so that Santhan can be sent back home. “We urgently request that further action be taken with no delays,” they asked.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed leader of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Shritharan Sivagnanam has written to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin requesting the immediate release of Santhan and the other Sri Lankan Tamils in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case.
ராஜீவ் காந்தி கொலை வழக்கில் கைதுசெய்யப்பட்டு விடுதலை செய்யப்பட்டுள்ள இலங்கை தமிழர்களை விடுவிக்குமாறு தமிழக முதல்வர் மு.க.ஸ்டாலினுக்கு, சாந்தனின் தாயாரின் கோரிக்கைக் கடிதத்தை மேற்கோள்காட்டி நாடாளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் சிவஞானம் சிறீதரன் @ImShritharan கடிதம் ஒன்றை அனுப்பிவைத்துள்ளார். pic.twitter.com/WHl4ItJml7
— Outis (@_outisk) January 29, 2024
In the letter Shritharan states that over a year has passed since the convicts were acquitted of all charges and said to be released, however, they have been placed in a special detention camp and no efforts have been made to repatriate them back to Sri Lanka.
Shritharan appealed on humanitarian grounds adding that Santhan had spent 32 years of his life being incarcerated. He is now old and ailing from a life-threatening kidney and liver problem for which he is being treated in Chennai. “In his old age, he has made a fervent wish to be with his mother.” Shritharan states. “Considering the emotional plight of the family and the fact that Santhan is terminally ill, I request you to kindly consider repatriating all of them including Santhan to Sri Lanka.”
Santhan’s mother in an emotional appeal wrote to Shritharan the letter which was shared on social media where she stated that she is 77 years old and would like to see her son whom she had not seen for the last 32 years, at least once before she too passes away. She says the family had written to Sri Lanka's president Ranil Wickremasinghe and the foreign minister Ali Sabry but to no avail.
Santhan’s family also met with Fisheries Minister and pro-government paramilitary leader Douglas Devananda, who promised the mother and his family that he would look into the matter and intervene to bring Santhan back. Santhan's mother told the minister that her son had already been released by an Indian court but had fallen ill and is hospitalized. In response, Devananda, who is accused of crimes ranging from abductions to sex trafficking, said he would discuss the matter with the relevant Indian authorities and assist in bringing Santhan back.