'Thanks, Rahul for not opposing our release': Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini Sriharan tells CNN-News18

A day after the Tamil Nadu government hinted that it stood for the release of all seven convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicts, said that she wanted to let her daughter know that she will be free soon.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court told the Tamil Nadu governor to consider the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan, another convict in the case. Reacting to this, Tamil Nadu law minister CV Shanmugam had said that it was "the stand and desire" of late Amma (Jayalalithaa) that the seven convicts should be released.

In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Nalini said that the Tamil Nadu government and the Centre should work according to the Supreme Court's directions. "I pray that the central government will be magnanimous," CNN-News18 quoted her as saying. She also thanked Congress president Rahul Gandhi for not opposing the release of the convicts.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief Su Thirunavukkarasar did not welcome the apex court's direction on Thursday. "The death of Rajiv Gandhi on the soil of Tamil Nadu is still a wound in the hearts of the people," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Thirunavukkarasar, however, said party president Rahul Gandhi had made it clear that he did not hold any grudge against anyone.

Reacting to Nalini's statements and Rahul's view, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy told CNN-News18 that the Tamil Nadu governor should show no mercy in the matter. "Who cares what their (Rajiv Gandhi) children say? If the children are disloyal to their father's memory, I don't have to be bound by that. They don't have exclusive rights on Rajiv Gandhi. He was the prime minister of India," he said.

On Thursday, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Naveen Sinha and KM Joseph disposed of the Centre's petition regarding Tamil Nadu government's proposal for the release of the convicts.

The Centre had on 10 August told the apex court that it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, saying remission of their sentence will set a "dangerous precedent" and have "international ramifications".

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near Chennai by an LTTE woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally. Reuters

Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur near Chennai by an LTTE woman suicide bomber, Dhanu, at an election rally. Reuters

On 20 August, 47-year old Perarivalan alias Arivu had told the apex court that no decision has been taken as yet on his mercy petition filed before the Tamil Nadu governor over two years ago. He was charged with supplying a 9-volt battery which was allegedly used for the belt bomb that had killed Rajiv Gandhi and 14 others.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on the night of 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber, identified as Dhanu, at an election rally. Fourteen others, including Dhanu herself, were also killed.

Perarivalan, who is among the seven convicts in the case, had said that he had filed the mercy petition seeking remission or pardon from the governor under Article 161 of the Constitution.

He had filed the mercy petition on 30 December, 2015, saying he has suffered more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement.

"As per jail rules, life imprisonment at the ground level is only for a maximum of 20 years and thereafter the prisoner is considered for release. Now, I have already undergone more than life imprisonment," his letter had said.

He had also claimed that the probe was not full-fledged and was incomplete and partial. "The main culprits who designed the bomb made of RDX were not nabbed till date. They are scot-free and investigation is still pending into the vital aspects of the crime itself," he had said in his letter to the governor.

"There will be no justification in keeping me behind bars even after 25 years of actual punishment when the investigation is itself pending", Perarivalan's letter said, giving a detailed outline of the case against him for seeking pardon of his sentence from the governor.

Convicts Perarivalan, Nalini, V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santham, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, and P Ravichandaran have been in jail for 25 years.

After the apex court's direction on Thursday, Shanmugam had said that Chief Minister K Palaniswami will take a decision on Perarivalan's mercy petition after a thorough study of the Supreme Court's judgment and consultations with legal experts.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Sep 07, 2018 22:09:26 IST

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