Chennai: Three men facing death penalty for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi will be hanged on September 9 in Tamil Nadu's Vellore prison, a jail official said on Friday.

Prison Superintendent R Arivudainambi on Friday afternoon received the official communication to carry out the execution of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.

“We have informed the convicts about the date of hanging. The execution will be (carried out) on September 9 early morning,” said Arivudainambi.

He said the movement of the convicts inside the prison will be restricted from now on.

“If they want any book from the library, they will be provided inside their cells but they won't be allowed to visit the library,” he said. 

Family members will still be allowed to meet them, he added. 

On August 11, President Pratibha Patil rejected the mercy petition of the three men who were linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ordered Gandhi's killing. 

A woman suicide bomber blew up Gandhi, who was Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai May 21, 1991.  In 1998, all 26 accused in the case - including the three - were sentenced to death by a special trial court. 

In 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of four: Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan and Nalini, an Indian woman who had assisted the killer squad.  The capital punishment of the others was reduced to varying terms of imprisonment. 

The death sentence of Nalini, who married Murugan and became a mother in prison, was commuted to life imprisonment after her mercy petition was accepted.  

The petition had the recommendation of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's widow.  Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan and the others were charged with criminal conspiracy that led to Gandhi's killing. They then petitioned the Indian President. 

Meanwhile, more and more people in Tamil Nadu are demanding that the three should not be hanged.  PMK founder S Ramadoss urged Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to save the three from the gallows. 

MDMK general secretary Vaiko has made a similar appeal to Jayalalithaa. 

Spare Rajiv assassins' lives: Karunanidhi to Sonia

Meanwhile, DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi appealed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to spare the lives of three convicts facing death sentence for involvement in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

In a statement issued here, Karunanidhi said, “The major ruling party at the Centre - the Congress party and its chief Sonia Gandhi should come forward and save the three lives.”  

He said with few days left to take a decision in this regard, the state and the Central government should take all necessary action to cancel the death sentence to the three. 

(Agencies)