Nalini release, Rajiv Gandhi assasination
Nalini Sriharan has been residing in Chennai since her release from prison I File Photo

Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Nalini says she’s innocent, ‘very sorry’ for Gandhis

Nalini Sriharan and other convicts in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case walked out of Tamil Nadu prisons on Saturday evening (November 12).

Nalini, the wife of V Sriharan alias Murugan, who was the first to be released, claimed her firm belief that she is innocent had kept her alive all these years.

“Otherwise, I would have ended my life. Do you think I have murdered the former Prime Minister? Seventeen murder cases have been framed against me,” the 55-year-old Nalini said in her first reaction to the media after she stepped out of the special prison for women in Vellore, about 150 kilometres from Chennai.

Opinion: SC has altered its previous views to free Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts

Her husband Murugan — a Sri Lankan national — along with another convict Santhan, also from Sri Lanka, were released from the Vellore prison. Besides them, two other Sri Lankan nationals — Robert Payas and Jayakumar — were released from the Puzhal prison here. All four were taken to the special refugee camp in Tiruchirappalli to be lodged there.

Earlier, another convict who was set free in May, A G Perarivalan, along with his mother Arputhammal received the duo at Puzhal prison.

The sixth convict P Ravichandran, on parole in the coastal Thoothukudi district, was brought to Madurai prison where he completed the formalities and was released.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Among 6 convicts, the killer who looked innocent

Immediately after her release from prison, Nalini went to the Vellore central prison and became emotional upon seeing Murugan.

‘Hellish experience’

The Supreme Court on Friday set free Nalini and five other remaining convicts, who are serving life term for about three decades in the Rajiv assassination case, noting that its earlier order releasing another convict A G Perarivalan was equally applicable to them.

“It was a hellish experience in prison during these 32 years. My conviction that I am innocent has kept me alive all these years. Of course, regular yoga, medication and classes from IGNOU had kept me occupied in the prison,” Nalini told reporters in Vellore.

Has she learnt a lesson from her prison life? “It is a unique experience which nobody could learn. I learnt patience and forbearance,” she said.

Watch: SC frees Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts

Asked if she regretted her delayed release, Nalini replied: “Many policemen were killed and some injured. I don’t know if they had received compensation.” She expressed her resolve to join her daughter in London and be a homemaker taking care of her husband and her daughter. She exuded the hope that her husband too would join her soon.

She thanked the Central and state governments, and all those who had supported her release. “I am delighted and grateful that so many kind-hearted souls supported my release from prison,” Nalini said and claimed that she did not have money even to pay her counsel.

Nalini said she was “very sorry” for the Gandhis. “I am very sorry for them. We have spent so many years thinking about it, and we are sorry,” Nalini told a TV news channel when asked about her message for the Gandhis and families of those who were killed.

“They have lost their dear ones. I hope they will come out of that tragedy once and for all, any time,” she added.

‘Victims of terrorists’

She was the longest-serving woman prisoner in the country and was arrested in 1991 when she was 24-years-old. She was a stenographer at a private firm when she met Murugan, a member of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Former PM Rajiv was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber named Dhanu at a poll rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on the night of May 21, 1991.

Ravichandran said that the people of north India should see them as “victims instead of terrorists or killers”.

“Time and power determine who is a terrorist or a freedom fighter, but time will judge us as innocent, even if we bear the blame for being terrorists,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

Read More
Next Story