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Aug-01-2012 03:18printcomments

Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, and the Academic Achievements of Assassins

Growing numbers believe men Convicted in Rajiv Gandhi's Assassination should be freed after 20 Years of looming death.

 Tamil girl holds banner to the visiting Indian Prime Minister in Myanmar. Asks for justice.
Clockwise from top left: Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan; India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi; the fate the three men could face; and the proximity of the two nations.

(SALEM) - Every day it seems, I find it necessary to explain to yet another person, what Tamil means. I don't find it surprising since I spent most of my life unaware also, but today I know about the significance of this ancient culture and rarely fail to appreciate their tenacity and ability to endure some of the worst forms of human mistreatment.

A Rohingya child at a camp in Kutupalong, Burma. The Rohingyas' plight highlights the many challenges to building an ethnically inclusive Burmese state. Photo: flickr/FAMSI From: Lady Liberty and the Ethnic Cauldron – II

Tamil people form a tightly bound society, yet due to war and strife and state terrorism, and for other natural and benign reasons, they are spread out all over the world in a Diaspora, with the largest population base in India. Their culture dates back to the earliest records of man, and overlaps and intertwines endlessly with others. Take for example the girl in the photograph inset below.

She's Burmese Tamil and while this bright youngster rallies in support of Tamil political prisoners, those she references aren't from her country, and we can scarcely mention Burma today without considering the plight of the ethnic Rohingya refugees; Muslims chased out of Burma's Arakan state by angry, deadly Buddhist mobs. They are desperate families trying to escape horror and Bangladesh refuses to accept them on their shores.

The deadly violence toward Muslims in Burma/Myanmar began with the reported rape of a Buddhist girl by a Muslim man who was caught and reportedly died in jail. Ten Muslim were initially pulled from a bus and murdered by Buddhists in a fiery rage. Not only did those ten men have nothing to do with the alleged crime, they weren't even from the region where it happened.

Buddhism and Violence

People of this so-called 'faith' turned militant religion; Buddhism, have become increasingly violent since the Genocidal rape of Nanking; the Japanese invasion of China, which came before the days of WWII when the Japanese military tortured, mutilated and cannibalized U.S. military pilots who were shot down and captured.

Author James Bradley exposed the details of this barbaric practice in Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, a gut stirring nonfiction review of events including a World War II incident involving the execution and cannibalism of five of eight American P.O.W.s on the Pacific island of Chichi-jima, one of the Ogasawara Islands[1].

Child victims, 2009 Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide

The Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka similarly respond in violent fashion and are behind the mass murder of tens of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils in 2009. In a hideous display of extreme inhumanity, Tamils were swept over by the Sri Lankan military and victimized in a 'Total War' scenario which means there was no distinction between civilian non-combatants and armed fighters, and no recognition of the rights afforded to Prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

The world focuses its energy in persecuting Muslims, and Hindus, yet these rogue Buddhist militant governments are the deadliest and most deceptive, history shows us.

The lack of understanding of this complex problem is a reflection of the poor level of education in the United States in regard to geography and culture; and we can also blame the mainstream media squarely for its endless persecution of Muslims and Islamic states that speak out over human rights abuse in Palestine.

Millions of human beings are living without their most basic rights in this day and age in Asia, but unless they are Christian or Jewish or Buddhist, we fail to hear about their tragedy.

Likewise, the news never fails to acknowledge political branding of groups like the Tamil Tigers and Hamas and Hezbollah as 'terrorists' when they represent impoverished populations, living under illegal military occupation.

Burmese Tamil Saratha Muthuraamalingam

The girl in the photo: Saratha Muthuraamalingam who again is a Tamil descendant in Burma, was photographed when she decided to hold a banner on the route of the visiting Indian Prime Minister in Burma.

On behalf of Burma (Myanmar) Tamils, Saratha appealed to the Indian Prime Minister to:

  1. Separate Tamil Eelam (the only final and permanent solution for the Sri Lankan Tamils alone will assume the safety, security and the freedom for the 'Sons of the SL Tamils which will be a milestone in the history of the mankind
  2. We need Justice for the Tamil Genocide that happened in Sri Lanka. If the criminals escape from punishment, the world will become a world without human rights
  3. We need freedom for the Innocent Tamil Prisoners {Including Thiru Perarivaalan, Thiru Murugan, Thiru Santhan, Thiru R. Payas, Thiru Jeyakumar and Thiruma thi-Nalini.[2].


She contends that the four have already undergone 20 years of imprisonment and must be released, and that these people are not directly connected with Rajiv's murder.

Tamil Eelam is the Tamil breakaway state in the north and east coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

Of course everyone should appreciate this brave girl's approach. It was just a few months ago, in August, when a woman in Chennai self-immolated in front of a government office in Kanchipuram in protest against the death sentences of three convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination case. 27-year old Senkodi, died on her way to the hospital. A police spokesman in Kanchipuram said Senkodi immolated herself around 5.45 pm that day[3].

Perarivalan, Murugan, and Santhan, so many contend, were not even involved in the death of Rajiv Gandhi, an Indian political leader who enjoyed much popularity, but then was caught in a corruption scandal, and turned against Tamil Eelam, in effect signing his death warrant with the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

As the days ticked away last August, growing closer and closer to the scheduled September government execution, noted lyricist and activist, Ms Thamarai, said the hanging is a political weapon of the Congress-led Centre which abetted genocide in Sri Lanka. She said that by recommending the hanging, the Union home ministry was only sending out a strong message to the state where Tamil nationalism was gaining momentum, she remarked[4].

The President had rejected the mercy petition of the trio, and Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan were to be hanged on 8 September 2011. However, the Madras High Court on 1 September, stayed their execution for eight weeks.[5].

Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan

Murugan and Santhan, both 41, and Arivu alias Perarivalan, 37, were sentenced to death in January 1998 by a Special Anti-Terrorist Court on grounds of involvement in the assassination of India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Their sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court of India in May 1999. According to information received by Amnesty International and reports in the Indian media, their mercy petitions were rejected by the President in August 2011, following the advice of the Government of India.

The three men were amongst 26 people sentenced to death by a special court at the Poonamallee jail complex in Tamil Nadu, under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA) – a law that contained provisions that were incompatible with international standards for fair trial. On appeal, a three-judge Supreme Court bench confirmed the death sentences of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and a woman, Nalini, while acquitting 19 persons of the murder charges and commuting the death sentences of three others.

From Three Men Face Imminent Execution in India

There is no question that with the President having rejected the mercy petition of Perarivalan, Murugan, Santhan, the trio seemed doomed. However, the Madras High Court's eight-week delay was just what they needed. The Supreme Court said they would hear a plea to transfer the petition on 19 October[6].

Then support for the three continued to grow, and the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution urging President Patil to reconsider the mercy petitions. The resolution was moved by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who was prompted to change her stand by the open support for the assassins' case.

"Had young leader Rajiv Gandhi been alive today, that noble man would have definitely come forward to save the lives of Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan, responding to the voice of true Tamils," Karunanidhi said[7].

Pleas from human rights and anti-death penalty activists and many candlelight vigils have fallen short in terms of public exposure, but Perarivalan and Murugan are still among the living and their journey they've gone from being convicts on death row in the most sensational crime in the country - to poster boys of prison rehabilitation.

It was on 23 March of this year, that a refreshing change came to light for two of these men.

Perarivalan and Murugan both of them passed the Class XII examination of the Tamil Nadu state board with flying colors. Perarivalan scored 1096 out of 1200 marks; and fellow convict Murugan, a Sri Lankan Tamil, scored 200 out of 200 in commerce.

Images of the young Perarivalan and Murugan flashed across prime time TV in India with presenters proclaiming their exceptional feat, made even more exceptional by the fact that both have been on death row for over two decades with hardly any exposure to the external world, The Siasat Daily reported.

    For more than a decade, they survived on the hope of a Presidential pardon and have narrowly escaped the gallows thanks to another petition for mercy which is now pending in the Supreme Court.

    Even with death closely stalking them, they were vigorously studying with whatever they could lay hands on. Some times books, sometimes some contraptions. Before Class XII, the duo had studied other courses[8].


[1] Flyboys:A True Story of Courage (Google eBook)

[2] Tamil girl holds banner to the visiting Indian Prime Minister in Myanmar. Asks for justice - The Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights

[3] Woman torches herself to save Rajiv killers Indo-Asian News Service

[4] Rajiv Gandhi murder: Tamil Nadu activists fret and fume over death row - DECCAN Chronicle

[5] Death sentence is judicial murder, says Judge in Rajiv killing - Jagram Post

[6] Karunanidhi wants to save the killers of Rajiv gandhi -

[7] Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins now poster boys of prison rehab - The Siasat Daily

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Al Franken and Tim King in Afghanistan

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.

Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu, India.

Tim's notorious list of ancestors includes Pedro de Alvarado, the lieutenant of Hernando Cortez of Spain; King Phillip IV, Eleanor of Aquitaine and William the Conqueror. Perhaps most interestingly, King John; the dark force in the story Robin Hood, and also the last Spanish governor of California, a real person fictionalized as the arch rival of the character in Zorro, are in reality both Tim's multiple-great grandfathers.

Tim at his family ranch in Chino, California.

Others include a Confederate officer in the U.S. Civil War and a decorated 'hero' of the Mexican-American War and the so-called 'Indian Wars'. In fact on the east coast, Tim's lineage with the Slaughter and King families, pre-dates the Mayflower and several members of his family were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. He says his family's past; some of which is very dark; some quite chivalrous, presents a certain responsibility, and that in part drives his desire to see that people in today's world are not exploited or allowed to suffer in silence as victims of Human Rights violations, as people of previous times were.

In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: Visit Tim's Facebook page (




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