Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convicts Demand Early Release

Accused in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Nalini Sriharan and husband Murugan have launched a hunger strike from jail

2 min read
Nalini, convict in Rajiv Gandhi assassination, has written a book documenting her side of the story.

Demanding their early release from Vellore central prison, Nalini Sriharan, 55 years, and her husband Murugan, aged 52 years, accused in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, have launched an indefinite hunger strike.

This comes five months after the Tamil Nadu Cabinet recommended their release from prison, reported The Hindustan Times.

They have also put forward an appeal to Governor Banwarilal Purohit for the release of the other five convicts – Perarivalan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.

Nalini’s lawyer P Pugazhendhi said that the duo had launched an indefinite hunger strike as the Governor has not responded to the Cabinet’s resolution last September, recommending the release of all seven convicts.

P Pugazhendhi said that Nalini started her hunger strike inside the special prison for women on Saturday, 9 February, her husband launched his protest on 2 February. She said that it was not fathomable why the Governor was not signing off on their release despite the Cabinet resolution.

“Even as the state government has urged the TN Governor for the release of seven convicts, the Governor has not taken any decision. Even though all the seven convicts have spent most of their lives in prison, it is not fathomable why the Governor is delaying the signing of papers enabling their release in spite of the TN Cabinet resolution recommending the same.”
P Pugazhendhi to HT

According to the lawyer, Murugan had only been consuming water since 2 February and as of last Friday, had stopping taking water as well. She also said that the prison staff had requested Nalini and Murugan to end their strike.

The Tamil Nadu Cabinet had invoked Section 161 of the Constitution to recommend the release of the convicts. According to Article 161, Governors have the power to grant pardons and suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.

Nalini had also written a letter to the Governor on 9 February.

“I want to go away from the earth by observing fast from Saturday morning, till I accomplish eternal freedom. Justice was denied to us for the past 28 years. We all are just innocent and circumstances made investigation officers to bring us under this case.”
Nalini in her letter to the Governor

The lawyer also said that a petition would be filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Governor to act on the Cabinet resolution recommending their release.

On 10 August last year, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it will not agree to the release of the prisoners. It maintained that 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 in Tamil Nadu by Dhanu, a woman suicide bomber belonging to the LTTE.

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