Indian media: Anger at decision to free Rajiv Gandhi killers

Rajiv Gandhi is still one of India's most popular politicians Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rajiv Gandhi is still one of India's most popular politicians

Media are criticising the government of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu for its decision to release seven prisoners convicted of involvement in the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

All of them were members of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel group.

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was seen as revenge for the sending of Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987.

Most commentators condemn the move of the Tamil Nadu administration as an attempt by the state's Chief Minister, J Jayalalitha, and her AIADMK party to woo Tamil voters ahead of general elections due in a few months.

The Times of India says that Ms Jayalalitha had "triggered outrage" in the country.

The paper points out in a commentary that the "indecent haste" with which the state government had made its announcement "smacks of vote bank politics in an election year".

"Sympathising with those who conspired to assassinate an Indian prime minister is unacceptable," it adds.

"The AIADMK government, in its hurry to score a political point over its rivals, should not overlook the gravity of the crime," warns the Hindustan Times.

The daily advises that "political parties should refrain from trying to make capital out of this issue to reap benefits in an election year".

An article in The Hindu says that the Tamil Nadu chief minister has played her cards well.

The newspaper explains that Ms Jayalalitha "will be the one to reap the political benefits" if the central government agrees to the release of the convicts. If not, then "she will be the one that stood up and demanded it".

According to The Indian Express, the "sudden decision" of the Tamil Nadu government could have a negative impact on judicial reform.

"It does little to further a reasoned debate on the death penalty, and indeed, the remission of sentences," the paper argues.

Adoptions ruling

In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has ruled that Muslims can adopt a child even though their personal law prohibits it, reports The Indian Express.

The court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board which said that children adopted by Muslims are not considered at par with biological children.

The bench said that people, irrespective of their religion, were free to adopt children under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The court order came in response to a petition filed by social activist Shabnam Hashmi who sought framing of uniform guidelines for adoption of children irrespective of their religion, the paper recalls.

Making Delhi safer

The disturbing number of rape incidents in the national capital has prompted the Delhi High Court to ask police to identify areas in the city where women are harassed, the Hindustan Times reports.

The court said it wanted to know whether sexual aggression against women was a "social or a policing problem".

Noting that rape is an "aggravated form of eve teasing", a term commonly used to denote harassment of women in India, the court also suggested that sociologists could study the reason behind these crimes, the paper adds.

"Rahul milk"

And finally, the Congress party has introduced its "Rahul milk" campaign in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh ahead of general elections this year, reports the Deccan Herald.

This comes after the recent launch of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) unique "Chai pe Charcha" (Discussion over Tea) promotion strategy.

Congress leaders have set up milk stalls in Gorakhpur town and people are being served hot milk in glasses carrying a picture of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the paper says.

Local party leaders deny copying the BJP, but say that "tea does not have much medicinal benefits while milk is good for health", the paper adds.

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