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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

I regret the killing of Rajiv Gandhi: Nalini

Nalini Sriharan, the prime accused in the case, whose petition for premature release is pending in the court, said the Gandhi family has been kind to her.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2008 13:55 IST
Snehesh Alex Philip
Snehesh Alex Philip

Nalini Sriharan, serving a life sentence for her involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, says she "regrets" the killing of the former Prime Minister and claims that the real conspirators have not been booked yet.

Calling Rajiv Gandhi a "great leader" and a "loss" to the country, Nalini, the lone surviving member of the five- member squad behind the assassination, said "I regret the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi." Nalini was one of the prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

When asked whether the real conspirators have been brought to book, Nalini, whose interview was mailed by her lawyer Elangovan in reply to a questionnaire sent by PTI, said "No, as the real killers Sivarasan, Suba and Dhanu were already dead."

Dhanu, a suicide bomber, had carried out the attack at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on the fateful night of May 21, 1991 killing Rajiv Gandhi and 15 others on the spot. Dhanu perished in the bomb attack.

During the course of investigations, pictures clicked by S Haribabu, an LTTE photographer who was also killed in the blast, exposed the role of Nalini and others.

Arrested about a month after the assassination which shook the country, Nalini was sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted on 16 counts of murder.

However, her sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment at the intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who pleaded for clemency on account of Nalini's young daughter who was born in jail.

Nalini said in her e-mail reply through her lawyer that her meeting with Priyanka Gandhi who had come calling to visit her in jail in March was "historical".

Elangovan, while describing the meeting of Nalini and Priyanka as "unique" added that "the real reason behind the meeting is still to be revealed by Priyanka."

"The meeting is unique. There is no comparison in the world history. Priyanka and Nalini do not know each other prior to the meeting. It is unexpected for a daughter of a victim in a gruesome murder to meet an accused who had been sentenced with death penalty later on converted to sentence for life," he said.

Elangovan further said, "whatever may me the reason (for not coming out with real reason for meeting) the courage and the generosity of Priyanka should be appreciated. The outcome of the meeting in no way helps Nalini."

Nalini, whose petition for premature release is pending before the Madras High Court, said the Gandhi family and especially Sonia Gandhi has been kind to her. Her husband Murugan, an LTTE supporter sentenced to death for the same crime is presently lodged with her in Vellore jail in Tamil Nadu.

Nalini said that if she is ever released from jail, she does not fear for her safety and was also candid about her plans for her daughter Megara, who has turned 15, saying she wants her to be a "software engineer" when she grows up.

Megara, who was living with her grandparents in Sri Lanka, was recently given permission by Madras High Court to come to the country for further studies as it ruled that she was an Indian citizen because she was born in India.