Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bomb attack on 21 May, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. Along with him, 13 other people had lost their lives. Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination and currently serving life term, was two months pregnant when she was imprisoned. She gave birth to a baby girl Arithra Murugan during her time in prison. For some time, Arithra lived in jail with her. Arithra is now a doctor in the United Kingdom. Nalini, meanwhile, has spent nearly three decades in prison for her role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
A biography of Rajiv Gandhi by Minhaz Merchant provides the exact role that Nalini Sriharan played in the assassination. According to the biography, Nalini was part of the core group that plotted the assassination. The others in the group were Shrivasaran, Murugan (with who Nalini had an affair), Arivu, Dhanu the suicide bomber, Shubha and three locals, Bhagyanathan, Nalini and Padma. It was this core group that went over every minute detail of the plan.
In 2019, Nalini she was granted a 30-day parole to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. She had pleaded that she was in jail for 28 years and during all that time, she had never availed ordinary leaves of a month available to convicts serving life terms. In the past, she has also said that she regrets the murder of Rajiv Gandhi.
For her part, Nalini Sriharan completely denies all involvement in the case. She had once met Priyanka Vadra Gandhi and when asked by the daughter of the deceased former Prime Minister, she had said that she had no role in his death. She apparently told her that she was a prisoner of ‘circumstances’.
The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release all seven convicts, AG Perarivalan, V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan, wife of V Sriharan under Article 161 of the Constitution is still pending with Governor. Four of the convicts – Sriharan, Santhan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar are Sri Lankan nationals.
Initially, Nalini Sriharan was sentenced to death due to her role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. However, her death sentence was later reduced to a life term after Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, pleaded for clemency on the account of her daughter who was born in jail.
13 others killed with Rajiv Gandhi
On that fateful day, along with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 13 others had lost their lives. When Rajiv Gandhi’s family, including Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, chose to ‘forgive’ the convicts and said they had no objection if the killers are released, the kin of those who had died along with Rajiv Gandhi were not too happy with the move. How could Sonia Gandhi or her children decide on behalf of family members of 13 others who lost their lives along with Rajiv Gandhi, they said.
Safoora Zargar arrested for inciting riots
Safoora Zargar, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia university, is lodged in jail currently for her alleged involvement in the anti-CAA riots in Delhi. Her imprisonment has sparked a lot of outrage because she is pregnant. Despite the Court observing that it could not be said there was no prima facie case against her, usual suspects are outraged and demand her immediate release citing her pregnancy.
However, as can be seen above, there have been cases where pregnant women have been arrested and even convicted for their crimes.