Robert Payas, a 46-year old convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has written to the Puzhal prison authorities pleading for ‘mercy killing’. Payas, a national of Sri Lanka was 20 years old at the time he was arrested in 1991 and completed 26 years in prison on June 11.
After spending 26 years in jail, Payas has no hope of getting released from jail and is deeply affected by the fact that no one from his family has turned up to meet him in several years. Not wanting to live like this anymore, Payas has requested for mercy killing, and, thereafter, having his body handed over to his family.
Payas claimed that he joined the assassination plot as he had lost his child because of the alleged barbarity of the Indian Peace Keeping Force which came to Sri Lanka in 1980. His name was included in the list of 26 key suspects of the conspiracy.
At the moment, he is one of the 7 people imprisoned for conspiring to assassinate the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, during an election rally in Siperumbudur on May 21, 1991. He was initially given the death sentence in 1998 under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). However, in 1999, the Supreme Court of India upheld the death sentence of four of the convicted, freed 19 and reduced the punishment of three including Robert Payas.
NDTV reports that in 2014, the then Tamil Nadu government led by J Jayalalithaa had made efforts to get seven of the convicted released by writing to the central government. The central government then approached the Supreme Court. After a couple of years, a bench of the apex court comprising five judges held that the state government was not empowered to take a call to free convicts sentenced under a central law and for a case investigated by a central agency.