Rajiv killer Santhan dies in Chennai hospital

Chennai: T Suthendraraja, also known as Santhan, one of the seven convicts freed in the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, died at a Chennai hospital on Wednesday, a hospital official said.

Santhan, a Sri Lankan national, had been admitted to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital for treatment a few days ago. He passed away at 7:50 am after suffering a cardiac arrest, hospital dean Dr. V Theranirajan said.

“He was admitted for treatment of liver failure,” Dr Theranirajan said. “Early morning today, around 4 am, he suffered a cardiac arrest but he was revived with CPR. However, later around 7:50 am, he passed away.”

Santhan was among the three convicts whose death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1999 for their involvement in the assassination plot. The others were Murugan and Perarivalan. However, all three were eventually granted reprieves, with Santhan being released in November 2022.

Following his release, Santhan was lodged in a special camp in Trichy, as per Indian regulations for foreign nationals. The Tamil Nadu government had recently informed the Madras High Court that Sri Lanka had issued temporary travel documents for Santhan to return to his home country.

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, carried out by a suicide bomber affiliated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1991, remains a significant event in Indian history. Santhan, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was a member of the LTTE’s intelligence wing and played a role in the conspiracy leading to the assassination.