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Daughter whose mind is on death row

world Updated: Sep 03, 2011 02:31 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Harithra Murugan is like any other girl on the cusp of adulthood - except that she has spent every single day of the past 13 years in the unbearable knowledge that her father may be executed at any time.

"It's a massive loss, a massive pain knowing that he may be taken away any day," said Harithra, whose father Murugan has been sentenced to death for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. "I would not wish this on anyone. I pray to God every day not to take him away."

The 19 year old, who lives in Scotland with her uncles and aunts, has only one cherished channel to her parents Nalini and Murugan, both convicted in the assassination case. She writes to them by turn on alternate weeks so they get to share her letters every week. They reply every week.

"I miss them more than anyone in the world. But at least this happiness I have - from these letters. Please don't take that away from me," she told the Hindustan Times, frequently breaking down in tears during the course of the conversation.

"I write to them about everything single thing that happens to me. It's like a diary," she said. "They advice me… what I should do or what I shouldn't. Mum always says in the last line, 'Please eat well, study well, we live only for you, there is nothing but you in our lives'.

"Dad writes a lot about me, like in a casual conversation. I do speak about boys to my dad. He writes to me that 'you have to be really careful. You're 19 and this will happen'.

"I ask for advice: Can I do this? Is it a good idea? I wait for their response and then take my decisions - even after two weeks. I need them.

"He tells in a way that I will understand. Even if I make a mistake, and say that 'I am so sorry, won't do it again,' he never judges me. Every time I finish a reading letter, I cry.

"He will know from my writing whether I am happy or sad. Sometimes I think, 'How does he know me so well? Even though he isn't sitting right next to me'."

Harithra thanked Jayalalitha and Sonia Gandhi for pleading on behalf of her parents. "I thank the Gandhi family from the bottom of my heart - they went through the same thing I am going through."

Having lived in Britain for the past five years, she is now awaiting an Indian visa that will enable her to see her parents.