By Manuwant Choudhary
I am not a fan of the Gandhi family yet I recall the day when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.
We were returning from a pilgrimage of Kedarnath with my parents and my father told us to have a good breakfast before the journey but we hated that and ignored his suggestion.
My father of course had a good meal.
As our bus descended the hills and the sharp jagged rocks grew distant we noticed all the roadside shops shut. When the bus stopped for chai-paani we couldn't find a single open shutter. We went hungry.
We were told by villagers that Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated !
I cried not because Rajiv Gandhi had been killed but because the enemies of India could kill a former Prime Minister so easily - just like that...
Now almost 24 years later I feel just the same.
India's Supreme Court turns death penalties to life for the convicted assassins and even allows the government to set them free (as they had already suffered for 22 years).
If this is the yardstick for justice then all of India's prisons should be cleared.
India's prisoners live under unimaginable conditions - a violation of even basic human rights.
I am too not for the death penalty but there must be justice.
This is a travesty of justice.
Within hours of the Supreme Court order Tamil Nadu's Jayalalitha government frees all the assassins and gives the centre three days to respond, otherwise they would all walk free.
Rajiv Gandhi's son Rahul Gandhi finally speaks up and says he is sad.
But he also tells us he is against death penalty.
Rahul Gandhi has himself and his government to blame for such a thing to happen.
His government is too intent on destroying Andhra Pradesh but for almost ten years now the Congress Party is in power but they never talked about abolishing capital punishment.
They could have done that...
Instead his sister Priyanka went around meeting the assassins and saying she wanted to come to terms with the violence..
Is that possible?
And all her TV interviews were they not done to influence the course of justice - a contempt of court?
Private matters should be private.
Rahul is right when he says if there is no justice for a Prime Minister of India how can there be justice for ordinary Indians?
This is felt more acutely by every Indian citizen not just the `aam aadmee'.
The root cause for the leniency shown by the Supreme Court is the delay in the Mercy petition of the assassins...but such leniency was not shown to Afzal Guru, the convict from Kashmir in the parliament attack case.
Afzal Guru wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court after his mercy petition was rejected by the President but India's government quickly hanged him to death.
What message does this send to the people of Jammu & Kashmir?
That the Tamil terrorist deserves mercy and they don't...because Tamil votes are more important than theirs.
Its really the same double -standards that India had for the LTTE.
But every wrong policy has had an equal and opposite reaction.
The Sikhs continue to suffer..there has been no closure to what happened after Mrs. Indira Gandhi was killed.
I do not think Rajiv Gandhi was perfect but he was relatively better than many PMs India has seen and after having researched some facts I would say he had a wrong set of advisors...even cronies...and Doon school boys..who took him on a path of national disaster.
And maybe even Sonia Gandhi is to blame....otherwise her government would not have worked overtime for Octavio Quattorochi and set him free...
I remember how the fortunes of the Congress Party changed after Rajiv's killing...and there were so many conspiracy theories.
I still wonder.....
Let our President sit on all Mercy Petitions and Lord Have Mercy !
I would say all heads of state assassinations should be tried at the International Court of Justice, Hague, far away from electoral domestic politics.....