Rajiv Gandhi assassination: Nalini Murugan moves UNHRC, seeks release from prison
Murugan has alleged she has suffered discrimination at the hands of the Indian government as well as the state government of Tamil Nadu.india Updated: May 26, 2017 07:29 IST
Nalini Murugan, who was convicted for her role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, has moved the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) urging the global body to apply pressure on the government of India to release her from prison.
Murugan was arrested days after Gandhi was killed by a woman suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the former Sri Lankan militant organisation, in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, and has been in jail since then.
Twenty-six people were convicted in 1998 for their roles in planning and carrying out the murder.
In the petition sent to the UNHRC high commissioner in Geneva in Switzerland, Murugan has alleged she has suffered discrimination at the hands of the Indian government as well as the state government of Tamil Nadu for “more than 16 years since I had become eligible to be released from prison as early as in 2001.”
“I have been denied the benefit of early release from prison, which is available to all life convicts in the country, only on the ground that I was convicted in the case of assassination of Rajiv Gandhi … I have not been considered for early release from prison only on political grounds, not on legal grounds,” Murugan said in the petition sent through her lawyers.
She has moved the Madras high court several times demanding her release but the state government has opposed her pleas, saying she has to spend her life in jail. A life sentence is usually for 14 years.
Even Gopal Vinayak Godse, a conspirator in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, was released from prison in 1965, she said.
Murugan’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000 after Congress president and Gandhi’s wife Sonia Gandhi requested the then president KR Narayanan in November 1999 for leniency.
The former prime minister’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met Murugan at the Vellore Central Prison for Women in March 2008.
The Supreme Court commuted the death sentences for three of the seven convicts in the case to life sentences in 2014, paving the way for their release since they spent more than 20 years in jail. The other four convicts were already serving life sentences.
The seven convicts were V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini.
The Tamil Nadu government’s move to free all the seven accused in the case was stalled by the SC after the Centre filed a petition with the top court arguing that the state did not have the power to free the ethnic Tamil convicts. The court blocked the chief minister from releasing three of them until the case was resolved.
In 2016, the Centre once again rejected the proposal of the Tamil Nadu government to release the convicts in the case.