M A I N   N E W S

I met Nalini, says Priyanka
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today confirmed she had met Nalini, a conspirator in her father Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. “It is true that I met Nalini Sriharan in Vellore Central Prison on March 19. The visit reported as a visit to the Vellore temple was not to the temple. I went to speak with her,” she said when her comments were sought on a newspaper’s report.

“It was purely a personal visit on my own initiative, which must be respected. I do not believe in anger, hatred or violence and I refuse to allow it any power over my life. Meeting Nalini was my way of coming to terms with the violence and loss that I have experienced,” she said in a written statement.

Endorsing his sister’s decision, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said today he supported Priyanka Vadra’s decision to meet a conspirator in their father’s assassination, adding that his family doesn’t want to carry “anger and hatred”.

Rahul Gandhi was reacting to queries from mediapersons about her meeting with Nalini, one of those convicted for the assassination of their father “We don’t carry hatred. We don’t carry anger. It’s not an exercise. She felt that she wanted to go and see the person. She has been feeling it for some time,” Rahul said.

However, he admitted that he had a different take on his when asked if he would have also liked to meet the convict. “I have a different way of looking at these things,” he stated cryptically, without any further elaboration.

Forty-three-year-old Nalini, an Indian and a close friend of an LTTE operative Murugan, was sentenced to death by a special court for her involvement in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination at Sriperumbudur near Chennai in 1991. The sentence was, however, commuted to life imprisonment after Congres president Sonia Gandhi petitioned for clemency for the sake of Nalini’s daughter, who was born in prison. Nalini had accompanied the woman suicide bomber who blew up Rajiv Gandhi with hidden explosives at Sriperumbudur.

Arup Chanda adds from Chennai

On March 19 noon, Priyanka drove straight to Vellore special jail to meet Nalini, one of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, who is serving a life sentence and spent more than an hour with her.

The moment she saw Nalini, now aged 43, at the jail superintendent’s chamber, she broke down and started sobbing. Other than her NSG bodyguards, Priyanka was accompanied by a central intelligence officer named Pankaj Kumar, who was instrumental in setting up the meeting. According to informed sources, Priyanka had long been thinking of meeting Nalini, who had written many letters to her mother Sonia Gandhi, at whose instance Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life.

After discussing with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, she expressed her desire to meet Nalini and Pankaj Kumar arrived at the Vellore special jail, 150 km from here, with her photograph and obtained Nalini’s consent on March 18.

However, contrary to jail manual only the two women were present in the chamber and Pankaj Kumar was asked to leave.

Nalini’s lawyer, S. Duraiswamy said here today, “The moment Nalini entered the chamber Priyanka started sobbing. Nalini, too, shed tears and was asked by Priyanka to sit beside her.

“Priyanka told her ‘My father was a good man’ and asked ‘Why did you kill her? What purpose did it serve? What was your involvement? But Nalini kept quiet about her involvement but admitted she was present at the spot,” he narrated.

Replying to a question as to when did she see Rajiv Gandhi last, Nalini said when the former Prime Minister got out of his car at the public meeting venue at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, minutes before he was blown up by Dhanu, an LTTE suicide bomber. Priyanka also enquired about Nalini’s 16-year-old daughter Meghara, who was born in jail, and later brought up by her grand parents in Sri Lanka.



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