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I do not believe in anger: Priyanka

“It was a purely personal visit that I undertook completely on my own initiative. I would be grateful if this could be respected,’’ says Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2008 01:29 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday said her meeting with Nalini Sriharan was her way of coming to peace with the violence and loss that she had experienced. “I do not believe in anger, hatred and violence and I refuse to allow it any power over my life,’’ Priyanka said in a brief statement on Tuesday. She said she had met Nalini in Vellore Central prison on March 19.

“It was a purely personal visit that I undertook completely on my own initiative. I would be grateful if this could be respected,’’ she said about her meeting with the person convicted for the assassination of her father Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

Priyanka’s meeting with Nalini has created a flutter and recalled her mother Sonia Gandhi’s gesture in intervening to see that Nalini’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment because she had a daughter from Sriharan alias Murugan, one of the four assassins, sentenced to death in the Rajiv case.

<b1>Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi echoed his sister’s sentiments in an interaction with newspersons in Parliament House. “We don't carry hatred; we don't carry anger. She (Priyanka) felt that she wanted to go and see the person. She has been feeling it for sometime,’’ he said in response to queries.

Asked whether he too would meet Nalini, Rahul said: “I have a different way of looking at things. But I don’t have a problem,’’ he added, without elaborating.

The issue of Priyanka meeting Nalini in the Vellore jail came to the fore with a Chennai lawyer, D. Rajkumar, seeking queries from the prison authorities by invoking provisions under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The question is now that Priyanka has confirmed meeting Nalini, will there be a positive spinoff for the prisoner?
Unlikely feels Nalini’s lawyer S. Duraisamy. He said that Nalini’s request for premature release since 2005 has been rejected every year by the state home department. “Normally no life convict is kept in jail for more than 14 years but Nalini has already spent more than 16 years after she was arrested in June 2001. Gopal Godse is the only life convict forced to spend 20 years in jail till his statutory release came about,” he told HT.

Nalini herself will be up for statutory release in another three years unless Priyanka can swing something before that. Barring two jail visits, Nalini’s daughter Arithra alias Meghara, now 14, has hardly spent any time with her mother and lives with Murugan’s parents in Jaffna. When her attempts to get an Indian visit visa to see her mother failed, she filed a case before the Madras High Court in March 2007. The court upheld her claim and directed that she be issued an Indian passport.

“But even one year after the court order the girl has not been issued her passport which proves that there is a silent hand of the officialdom working against these people,” Duraisamy complained. He blamed this silent conspiracy of top officials at the state and centre for delaying the mercy petitions of the three death row convicts in the Rajiv case – Murugan, Chinna Santhan and Perarivalan.

According to Duraisamy when K.R. Narayanan was president, the Union Home Ministry had asked him to reject their mercy petitions. But Narayanan had refused asking the Home Ministry to reconsider their mercy plea. He even gave a reason for this – the three main conspirators (Dhanu, Siavaarasan and Subha) were already dead and that these three convicts were not directly involved in the act.