Sriperumbudur: Twenty years ago the suicide blast that killed the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi also claimed 16 other lives. CNN-IBN met up with the families of the victims to get their views 20 years on. With continuing politics over the death sentence of the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the case refuses to die down.
But back in Sriperumbudur where it all happened, the families that lost their loved ones that fateful night are willing to move ahead and leave the past behind.
Just a mention of her sister brings tears to the eyes of GK Santhakumari. Even 21 years after the horrific incident that killed not just Rajiv Gandhi, but 16 others as well.
Santhakumari's sister Saroja Devi was just 20 years old at that time and had insisted on accompanying her, to catch a glimpse of Rajiv Gandhi. Santhakumari had walked ahead after greeting the leader and was waiting for Saroja when she heard the blast. The next moment she saw her sister lying dead, her dismembered body in a pool of blood. But now Santhakumari has forgiven her sister's killers.
"There is no benefit of killing them. Only another family like ours will be affected. I don't think there should be so many after effects of one incident. They have been punished enough," Santhakumari said.
Her sentiments are echoed in other such households as well. A picture of Samdani Begum garlanding Rajiv Gandhi that was taken just moments before the blast went off, is something that her son will never forget. She was just a couple of people ahead of Dhanu and that's perhaps why Mohammad Aslam, who was just 17 years old then, was able to retrieve his mother's body.
Aslam said, "What is the use of hanging them? Will I get my mother back? They have lived in the fear of hanging and dying every minute for so long. That's the worst punishment. I don't think they should be hanged."
Alice Edward was six years old when she lost her father Edward that fateful night. He was the SB-CID inspector in charge of Rajiv Gandhi's security. Even so, Alice feels sorry for Nalini and Murugan's daughter Harithra and hopes their family will be reunited soon.
"I'm not for capital sentence for those three people. And just as I lost my father and suffered for the past 21 years, I don't want another person like me; that is Nalini's and Murugan's daughter to suffer without parents," Alice said.
Even as the debate on commuting the death sentence of the convicts heats up across the country, for the families that lost their loved ones, the memories of that incident is a scar that will hurt them forever. And so many years later, they may have still not forgotten what happened, but they certainly seem to have learned to forgive those, who caused them hurt.