The following is an email interview conducted by Dhanya Rajendran, Editor, TNM, with Harithra Srikaran, daughter of Nalini and Murugan, both convicted and sentenced to death for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
While Nalini’s sentence was commuted to life earlier on compassionate grounds, Murugan got his commutation yesterday following the Supreme Court verdict which said that his execution was unreasonably delayed for 11 years. The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free Murugan and all the other convicts in the case – now temporarily stayed by the Supreme Court following an intervention by the centre – means that Harithra will not get to see her parents after eight years.
The following is the full text of the emailed questions and the answers given by Harithra, now in London. We have edited the replies minimally – including some of the misspellings and incomplete sentences, for the sake of authenticity.
When did you get to know the news? What was your first reaction?
In the morning yesterday. I was extremely happy. Could not really sleep last night and got a ring from my aunt in the morning for the second news: the feeling isn’t describable by words. Felt like flying in the sky. It was amazing.
What would you like to tell the Tamil Nadu government and Jayalalithaa?
Jayalalithaa Amma gave me the best present in the world. It means the world to me. I thank a million times (of course, words isn’t enough to describe how thankful I am).
Rahul Gandhi has objected to the release. Would you have anything to say to the Gandhi family?
I am extremely sorry for their father's loss. The amount of pain they went through I been having it (for the) past 23 years without both my parents. I believe my parents are innocent. If the world believes they have done it..they (have) been punished for 23 years. Not just them, me ‘n’ my relatives... I haven’t done anything wrong.. It’s not fair to punish me for 23 years…Rahul Gandhi knows what (it) feel(s) like without having (a) dad..am going through even more pain without both my parents..So I beg them to release my parents. Special thanks to Sonia Gandhi for reducing my mum's death penalty and Priyanka Gandhi for visiting my mum!
When was the last time you spoke to your parents?
8 years ago I met them! I write to them every month.
What is your memory of them?
I still remember the time when I visited (them) - the happiness on their face(s), (the) warmth of their hug(s) and crying face when the time was finished. On that day mum feed (sic) me food. It was the tastiest meal I ever had - full of love. I yearn to be with my parents each and every day.
Did you ever really expect this day to come?
I always prayed to god for this day. Thanks to Amma for making it real.
Family members of others who died that night want to approach the court with review petitions. Would you want to react to that or say anything to them?
I am extremely sorry for their relatives' loss. The same pain they went through I (have) been having it 23 years without both my parents. I believe my parents are innocent. I haven’t done anything wrong..It’s not fair to punish me for 23 years..Please let’s be together with parents. I would be always grateful to you. I hope their relatives soul rest is peace.
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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2014 16:24:43 IST