Chennai: The DMK government in Tamil Nadu hasn't made up its mind on the mercy petition Nalini Sriharan, who is serving life imprisonment for her role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Nalini met Priyanka Vadra, daughter of the assassinated leader, in Vellore jail in March and later filed a petition before the Madras High Court to be released early as she had spent over 16 years in prison.
The state government has to respond to Nalini’s petition but it is confused. The government wasn’t informed about Priyanka’s secret meeting with Nalini and the Congress hasn’t given it a clear message about the meeting.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister in 2000 when Nalini's death penalty was commuted to a life sentence. Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi, the current Congress president, had then asked for Nalini's death penalty to be commuted on humanitarian grounds.
This time too the state government is reluctant to respond to Nalini's petition without a clear message from 10 Janpath and is likely to seek more time to file its reply
Nalini’s lawyers though argue that it's a matter entirely in the hands of the state government. "The state government must respond to this petition. We have mentioned in our petition that constitutionally there is no need to consult the Central government,” says Nalini’s lawyer S Duraiswamy.
Janatha Party president Subramaniam Swamy has warned he would file a petition against Nalini’s plea because he believes that giving her leniency would set a dangerous precedent. The Central government and not the state government should decide about Nalini’s petition, he says.
“These people were the conspirators (in the assassination) and they were the infrastructure of the LTTE and therefore they deserved to die,” says Swamy.
The LTTE issue has for long been a thorn in the alliance between the Congress and the DMK and Nalini's fate is yet another delicate question for Karunanidhi.
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