Tamil Nadu rejects Nalini’s plea for release (Lead)

March 29th, 2010 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Chennai, March 29 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government Monday rejected the demand for the release of Nalini Hariharan, sentenced to life for the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Tamil Nadu Advocate General P.S. Raman submitted the government’s decision to the Madras High Court, citing the decision of the Prison Advisory Board that had examined the request.

The board, headed by the Vellore district collector, had listed eight counts on which Nalini should not be released, including her reported refusal to apologise for Gandhi’s assassination.

Raman submitted to the division bench comprising of Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and K.K. Sasihdharan that the DMK government had accepted the board’s verdict.

The case was filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy challenging Nalini’s right for remission. According to him, Nalini has already got one remission - the reduction of death penalty to life imprisonment.

DMK MP T.K.S. Elangovan told IANS: “The government has accepted the decision of the independent board.”

The Congress party, the ruling DMK’s ally, welcomed the decision to keep Nalini in prison.

Congress legislature party leader D. Sudharsanam told IANS: “Our stand is that of the Tamil Nadu government’s.”

Congress leaders had opposed the release of Nalini and others convicted for the killing of Gandhi at an election rally at Sriperumbudur near here.

Gandhi was blown up when a young woman suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) detonated explosives strapped on her body while pretending to touch his feet on May 21, 1991.

Nalini was seated among the audience at the rally along with another LTTE woman member. According to investigators, she was part of the “killer team” that wanted to kill Gandhi for sending the Indian Army to Sri Lanka in 1987 that ended up fighting the LTTE.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had said the state government would consult New Delhi on Nalini’s plea that she should be released since she has spent nearly two decades in prison.

Originally, Nalini was convicted on 16 counts of murder and awarded death penality. Later, at the intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the slain Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, this was commuted to life imprisonment.

In September last year, Nalini filed a petition in the Madras High Court asking the Tamil Nadu government to convene the advisory board to consider her case for release from jail.

In her petition, she said that she was entitled for release in 2005 itself as she had completed 14 years in jail.

After her arrest, Nalini had married LTTE activist known by his nom de guerre Murugan. He is also in prison for the Gandhi killing. They now have a grown up daughter.

In March last year, Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, visited Nalini in the prison. Nalini cited the meeting while demanding her release.

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