Murugan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar-Who are they and their roles in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination; We Explain

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Chennai: A total of seven individuals were convicted by the Supreme Court in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case in 1999 namely – AG Perarivalan, Nalini, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar, and Ravichandran alias Ravi and all the seven were released prematurely by the Supreme Court in November 2022. Of this, three freed Sri Lankan life convicts- Murugan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar were released from the Special Camp in Tiruchi on Tuesday night and they are set to fly back to Sri Lanka from Chennai this morning.

At this juncture, we explain who are they and how they were connected to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Murugan alias Sriharan

He was an active member of the Tamil militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Murugan, native of Sri Lanka, joined the LTTE movement at a young age. He was also said to be a member of the suicide squad beginning in January 1991. He was sent to India by LTTE leader Pottu Amman with the task of drawing sketches and photographing and filming key locations. He became friends with Nalini’s brother Bhagyanathan, and then with Nalini and her mother Padma. Murugan married Nalini, an Indian citizen. 1992, the couple had a baby girl while they were in jail.

The Special Investigation Team of the Indian Intelligence Service had alleged that Murugan alias Sriharan was the mastermind behind the assassination.

Robert Payas

One of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, P Robert Payas is a citizen of Sri Lanka.
An investigation confirmed that Payas harbored active members of the LTTE in connection with the assassination of the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Payas was suspected by intelligence to be a member of the LTTE.
The CBI said he was sent to India to set up bases for the militant group and was complicit in planning the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by renting places where other criminals stayed.


According to the chargesheet, Jayakumar, Payas’s brother-in-law, was deported to India by the LTTE in 1990.
He was accused of helping to organize a house in Tamil Nadu for the criminals to carry out the massacre.

Besides them, Santhan, one of the seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, passed away at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai in January this year after he was admitted for liver failure.

Santhan, a Sri Lankan national, was released in 2022 after serving over 20 years in jail. He had sought to travel to Sri Lanka to reunite with his mother.

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