Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Nalini Sriharan, who is lodged in the special prison for women in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore, threatened to end her life after being accused of harassing another co-prisoner, a senior jail official said on Tuesday (July 21).
Nalini’s threat to end her life came after a co-prisoner, who was in a nearby cell, complained against her to authorities. The co-prisoner, also a life convict, alleged that the Rajiv case convict was harassing her by giving more and more work and requested that her cell be changed, a top prison department official said.
Following the complaint, jail authorities questioned Nalini and changed the cell of the complainant. “Nalini, started a quarrel with the jailor during questioning. She said the complaint of the co-prisoner was false and that she did not harass her. Nalini said she will commit suicide if the cell of the co-prisoner was changed,” the official said.
“It was like blackmail. If the complainant’s cell was changed, Nalini could not extract work from her… she only threatened (to end her life) but there was no attempt,” he asserted.
Nalini, in prison for over 29 years, told the jailor that she would end her life in the presence of others, including the assistant jailor and prison staffers last evening, the official said.
P Pugazhenthi, the high profile case convict’s legal adviser, said the jail officials gave “contradicting versions” of the incident, which showed that they were “trying to hide something.”
Pugazhenthi said Nalini tried to kill herself after a fight with a jail official, according to news agency ANI.
The lawyer claimed Nalini had been tortured by jail officials and appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to arrange Nalini’s transfer to another prison.
The lawyer said he was told that the fight started over a complaint by another convict against Nalini, a version that he doubted. “At 8:30 pm, the jailer went to Nalini’s cell and enquired about the complaint. During the inquiry, a quarrel took place between the jailer and Nalini. She got upset and attempted to commit suicide,” Pugazhenthi told ANI.
“This is the view of the authorities. However, we don’t believe this. She has served the last 30 years in prison and never attempted to take such steps. This is not believable. I think the jail officials had tortured her,” NDTV quoted him as saying, calling for an inquiry.
Claiming that Nalini’s life was in danger, the lawyer said he had requested jail authorities and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to transfer her to Chennai. “We have given a representation to authorities to shift Nalini Sriharan to Chennai Puzhal prison for her safety,” he said, according to NDTV.
Besides Nalini, six others, including her husband V Sriharan alias Murugan, a Sri Lankan national, are serving life imprisonment in the assassination case. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally at Sriperumpudur near Vellore on May 21, 1991.
(With inputs from agencies)