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Action mulled against Nalini

india Updated: Apr 23, 2010 13:18 IST

Sriharan Nalini, serving life sentence over former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, may face disciplinary action following the seizure of a mobile telephone from her cell, a senior official said on Friday.

As possession of a mobile phone by a convict is a criminal offence, she could be shifted from the Vellore prison to another jail and her prisoner status could be downgraded from 'A' class to 'B' class.

"We haven't got any report on the issue. Only after the receipt of the report we can take appropriate action," KR Shyamsundar, the assistant director general of police and inspector general of prisons, told IANS.

He said investigation on the matter was on and he would not to comment on speculations.

The Vellore prison authorities have sent the mobile telephone and the SIM cards, seized during a routine check, to trace the calls Nalini may have made.

But the prison authorities could not seize the battery charger. A vigilance team from the prison department in Chennai is investigating the issue.

The latest development is a setback to Nalini, who has approached the Madras High Court against the Tamil Nadu government's decision to reject her appeal for release before her life term ends.

The government based its decision to reject Nalini's appeal on the findings of the Prison Advisory Board headed by the Vellore district collector.

The board had listed eight counts not to free Nalini, including her reported refusal to apologise for Gandhi's murder in May 1991.

A woman suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) detonated explosives strapped to herself while pretending to touch Gandhi's feet at an election rally near here May 21, 1991.

Nalini was part of the team of conspirators that witnessed Gandhi getting blown up. The LTTE apparently wanted to avenge Gandhi's decision to deploy the Indian Army in Sri Lanka's northeast in 1987.

Originally, Nalini was convicted on 16 counts of murder and given death penalty.

On the intervention of Rajiv Gandhi's widow and now Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

In September last year, Nalini filed a petition that she was entitled for release in 2005 itself as she had completed 14 years in jail.

After her arrest, Nalini married LTTE activist known by his nom de guerre Murugan. He is also in prison for Gandhi's murder. Their daughter, who was born when Nalini was in prison, is grown up.

In March last year, Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, visited Nalini in the prison. Nalini also cited that meeting while asking for her release.