Gandhi was 46 when he was assassinated in 1991 at an election rally in the southern state of Tamil Nadu by a female suicide bomber.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan armed separatist group, carried out the assassination.
The convicts were released based on their “satisfactory conduct” in prison, according to India’s Supreme Court, after serving more than three decades in prison.
The six, three of whom were sentenced to death before having their sentences commuted in 2014, are the only ones still in prison for the assassination.
Earlier this year, the court ordered the release of AG Perarivalan, another convict who had been sentenced to death by hanging, citing good behaviour.
Gandhi became India’s youngest prime minister after his mother, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards.
The family’s Congress party dominated Indian politics for decades, and Rajiv’s widow Sonia is still the most powerful figure in the organization, while their son Rahul is seen as the main political opponent of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was widely interpreted as a reaction to his decision to send Indian forces to Sri Lanka in 1987 to disarm Tamil rebels. After losing over 1,000 troops in battles with the insurgents, India withdrew its troops.
The release of the convicts has sparked heated debate in India, with Congress calling the court decision “totally unacceptable” and “completely erroneous.”
“It is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue,” the party said, tweeting a statement by senior member Jairam Ramesh.
My statement on the decision of the Supreme Court to free the remaining killers of former PM Shri. Rajiv Gandhi pic.twitter.com/ErwqnDGZLc
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) November 11, 2022
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