Vellore jail official denies Priyanka-Nalini meeting

May 3rd, 2008 - 1:38 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Chennai, May 2 (IANS) The Vellore prison superintendent has kicked off a controversy by denying that a secret meeting took place March 19 between Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin Nalini Murugan and his daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. K. Raja Saundari made the disclosure in a written communication.

According to sources, senior lawyer S. Doraiswamy, who argued for Nalini’s premature release in the Madras High Court Wednesday, is in possession of Saundari’s statement through his colleague Raj Kumar, wherein she has said, “Nobody had visited the prisoner under contention between March 14 and March 19.”

Government Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy told IANS Friday: “Though there is nothing earthshaking about a prisoner meeting a private citizen on mutual agreement, under normal circumstances records of such meetings exist in all prisons. However, as we are officially unaware of the matter, it can only be said that the government will follow rules if such a thing has come to pass. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”

Neither Home Secretary, S. Malathi, who has to take a decision on the ticklish issue, nor S. Doraiswamy, who represents Nalini in court, were available for comment.

A retired Additional Superintendent of Police, currently practising as a lawyer, said: “It is also highly unlikely that someone politically savvy as S. Doraiswamy would press the matter of the prison superintendent Saundari lying vide the Right to Information Act, which is the only way the counsel could have accessed the document. However, if the matter comes out, it will be an embarrassment for the state and central governments which knew such a meeting took place before Priyanka admitted to the meeting.”

Priyanka had on April 15 stated: “I met Nalini on March 19. It was purely a personal visit on my own initiative which must be respected. I do not believe in anger or violence and I refuse to let it overpower me. Meeting Nalini was my way of coming to terms with my father’s death.”

The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences of Nalini, her husband Murugan alias Sriharan and Perarivalan in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on May 11 1998.

Nalini was found guilty of being part of the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, at an election rally near Chennai.

The LTTE denied any role in the killing.

Nalini was granted clemency following the intervention of the state and central governments in April 2000.

This was facilitated by the recommendation of Sonia Gandhi to commute her death sentence into life imprisonment on compassionate grounds. Nalini has a daughter, who is studying abroad.

Other co-conspirators in the assassination include Murugan and Perarivalan, who are serving death sentence at the Vellore prison since 1998.

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