Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini has been released on 30-day parole from the Vellore Jail for her daughter’s wedding. Nalini had sought parole for 6 months but she has been granted 30 days by the Madras High Court. On May 21, 1991, Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. The LTTE was seeking revenge for the Indian government’s decision to send troops to Sri Lanka to help the island country fight the Tamil separatists. On January 28, 1998, TADA Court awarded death sentence to all 26 accused, including Nalini nad her husband Murugan. But a year later the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of only four of them – Nalini Sriharan, Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and AG Perarivalan. Three others Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran were sentenced to life imprisonment and the remaining 19 were freed. Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000.
According to reports, Nalini Sriharan walked out of Vellore Jail today on a month’s leave to make arrangements for and attend her daughter Harithra’s wedding. She was received by her mother, a retired nurse. Her daughter, who studies medicine in the UK, is expected to join her next week. As per conditions imposed by the authorities, during this period Nalini cannot leave Vellore and is not allowed to meet politicians or speak to the media.
The Madras High Court had granted Nalini the leave earlier this month in a hearing at which she argued for herself. Asking for leave of six months, Nalini Sriharan made an emotional appeal and argued she had been wrongfully punished in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
“I could not look after my daughter. I did not fulfill my motherly responsibilities,” she said, adding, “I did not fulfill my responsibilities to my father before he died. Now I’ve to meet my family for my daughter’s wedding. I have to arrange for finances.”
Nalini Sriharan was granted a day’s parole last year to attend the last rites of her father, Sankara Narayanan, 92, in Chennai.
The court also exempted Nalini Sriharan from payment of charges for police security, saying she was not a woman of means. She said she had been made to pay Rs. 16,000 last year.
Rajiv Gandhi assassination Timeline
May 21, 1991: Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassinated at an election rally by an LTTE suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur
May 20, 1992: Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CBI files the chargesheet in the case before the TADA Designated Court at Poonamallee
Jan 28, 1998: TADA Court awards death sentence to all 26 accused
May 11, 1999: Supreme Court sentences Nalini, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to death; commutes death sentence of three others to life; frees 19 others
Oct 8, 1999: Dismissing their appeals, Supreme Court confirms the death sentence awarded to Nalini, Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan
Oct 17, 1999: The four death row convicts send clemency petitions to Tamil Nadu Governor
Oct 27, 1999: Governor rejects the clemency petitions
Nov 25, 1999: Madras High Court quashes Governor’s rejection of clemency petitions; directs the Governor to pass a fresh order after obtaining the State Cabinet’s views
Apr 19, 2000: State Cabinet chaired by then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi decides to recommend commuting the death sentence of Nalini alone
Apr 21, 2000: Governor accepts Cabinet decision to commute death sentence of Nalini
Apr 28, 2000: State Government forwards clemency pleas of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan to the President
Aug 12, 2011: Union Home Ministry communicates to State Government about President’s decision to reject clemency petitions
Aug 26, 2011: Execution of three convicts fixed for September 9, 2011
Aug 30, 2011: Tamil Nadu Assembly adopts resolution urging the President to commute the death sentence of the three
Aug 30, 2011: Madras High Court stays execution of Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan on their plea. Petitions transferred to Supreme Court later
May 1, 2012: Supreme Court says it would hear the petitions of three convicts
Feb 18, 2014: Supreme Court commutes the death sentence on grounds of delay in disposing their mercy pleas. The court also says the State Government may consider releasing the convicts under the powers vested with it.
Feb 19, 2014: State Cabinet decides to immediately release Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran; sends its decision to Centre under Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.