Rajiv Gandhi killers plea rejected reason

President Pratibha Patil last week rejected the clemency pleas of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers.The death sentences of the three assassins — Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan — were confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000. The apex court had sentenced the three LTTE members as well as a female collaborator Nalini Sriharan to death in 1999 for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991. On Sonia Gandhi’s request in November 1999, the death sentence of Nalini, Murugan’s wife, was commuted to life imprisonment. Sonia’s personal intervention was prompted by the fact that Nalini had to bring up her daughter Megara. A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson confirmed that the President had turned down the mercy petitions of Murugan and the other two. (From the Telegraph).

Rajiv Gandhi was killed an explosion that took place in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, India on 21 May 1991. At least 14 others were also killed. Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was carried out by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, also known as Dhanu, who was found after investigations to be an LTTE suicide bomber. At the time India was embroiled, through the Indian Peace Keeping Force, in the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Rajiv Gandhi reached Chennai about two hours earlier and then was driven by motorcade in a white Ambassador car to Sriperumbudur, stopping along the way at a few other election campaigning venues. During the drive to Sriperumbudur. Along the way to the dias, he was garlanded by many well wishers, Congress party workers and school children. At 10:21 p.m., the assassin Dhanu came to him and greeted the former Prime Minister. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive laden belt tucked below her dress. The former Prime Minister along with many others were killed in the explosion that followed. The assassination was caught on film through the lens of a local photographer, whose camera and film was found at the site. The cameraman himself also died in the blast.

President Pratibha Patil has rejected the mercy petitions of the three accused involved in the conspiracy to assassinate former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Significantly, Rajiv’s widow Sonia Gandhi had forgiven Nalini and wrote to get Nalini’s daughter, then in Sri Lanka, to join her mother here in Tamil Nadu.There are a couple of important death sentences hanging fire for the several years and the BJP has been politically embarrassing the government particularly over the case of Afzal Guru, accused of involvement in Parliament attack of 2001. Now, since the Home Ministry has recommended to the President to reject Afzal Guru’s petition, it may not be long before his mercy petition is also rejected.

Nalini Sriharan

Nalini Sriharan has served more than 18 years in Vellore prison. She claims she is only required to serve 14 years in prison before being entitled to early release under Indian laws. Last year she held a fast in the prison in support of her demand. Nalini Sriharan also went on hunger strike in 2006 because she wanted her daughter, who lives in Sri Lanka, to be given a visa to visit her in India. In 2008, Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, met Sriharan in prison. "I don't believe in anger or violence and I refuse to let it overpower me. Meeting Nalini [Sriharan] was my way of coming to terms with my father's death," Ms Gandhi said after the meeting.


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