New Delhi: Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination is making news once again. This time it is because of his daughter Priyanka Vadra's visit to a Vellore prison, where the only living member of Rajiv's assassination squad, Nalini Sriharan, is lodged.
According to a leading daily, a local lawyer D Raj Kumar filed an RTI application seeking clarifications about a meeting in jail between Priyanka Gandhi and Nalini on March 19.
Raj Kumar's petition sought clarifications on details such as the nature of the talks between the two women, who accompanied Priyanka and under which legal provision was Priyanka permitted to meet the prisoner.
Nalini's mother in Coimbatore reportedly confirmed this while her two lawyers Duraisamy and Elangovan described the meeting as "very cordial".
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Priyanka said, “Yes, I did visit Vellore to meet my father’s assassin.
“The visit reported on 19th March as a visit to Vellore temple was not to the temple. I went to speak with her,” she said.
“It’s completely personal, I don’t want to say anything about it,” Priyanka added. “It was a purely personal visit on my own personal initiative, which must be respected.”
“I needed to make peace with all the violence in my life,” she explained. “I don't 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.
Rahul Gandhi, on his part, stressed that his sister's meeting with Nalini was important in dealing with violence in their lives.
"Both me and my sister don't believe in violence and her meeting Nalini was in this context,"
When asked if he would want to meet Nalini as well, Rahul politely deflected the question.
"I have my own way of looking at things," he said.
Nalini reportedly told her lawyers that Priyanka was keen to know why her father, whom she called a “good man”, was assassinated.
Her lawyer Duraisamy corroborated this.
“On 19th Priyanka came to Vellore and met Nalini at the central prison. They were there for some time and each consoled the other,” he said.
“After the formal discussion, Priyanka asked Nalini, why they killed her father, who was a good man.”
Nalini was part of a five-member squad recruited to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. The attack had been carried out by a suicide bomber Subha, in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991. Rajiv Gandhi and 17 others had been killed on the spot.
Thirty-three-year-old Nalini Sriharan had been sentenced to death. The sentence was, however, commuted to life imprisonment after Rajiv’s widow and Congress President Sonia Gandhi pleaded for clemency on account of Nalini’s five-year-old daughter.