India’s top court orders release of six people convicted of killing former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi


India’s top court on Friday ordered the release of six people convicted of killing the country’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, 31 years after he was imprisoned.

The Supreme Court acquitted Nalini Sriharan, the only woman convicted in the case, and five men, according to Anand Landge, the petitioners’ lawyer.

They were arrested just weeks after Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide attack on May 21, 1991, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The attack was blamed on separatist rebels fighting for a Tamil state in Sri Lanka. Gandhi’s assassination was seen as retaliation for his decision to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka in 1987 to enforce a peace deal to end the island nation’s civil war.

Over the years, several Tamil Nadu governments have called for the release of those responsible for the murder.

In May, the Supreme Court ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, another convict in the case.

Perarivalan, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was accused of buying batteries for the bomb. He was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges.

Known as the “unwanted” prime minister who never wanted the job, Gandhi became India’s youngest leader at the age of 40 after his mother and former prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was shot dead by her bodyguards

But he served less than a decade, lost the 1989 general election in the wake of a corruption scandal, and was assassinated two years later.

During his tenure, he signed peace deals with insurgent groups in states where religious tensions were high, and is credited with developing India’s science and technology sectors, earning him the nickname “Father of Information and technology”.

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