Senior advocate Indira Jaising urged the mother of Nirbhaya to pardon the men on death row who were convicted for the 2012 gang rape of her daughter
Senior advocate Indira Jaising urged the mother of Nirbhaya to pardon the men on death row who were convicted for the 2012 gang rape of her daughter

On Saturday senior advocate Indira Jaising urged the mother of Nirbhaya to pardon the men on death row who were convicted for the 2012 gang rape of her daughter.

"While I fully identify with the pain of Asha Devi I urge her to follow the example of Sonia Gandhi who forgave Nalini and said she didn't not want the death penalty for her. We are with you but against the death penalty," Jaising tweeted.

Asha Devi however does not quite agree. Responding to the tweet she wondered who Jaising was "to give me such a suggestion".

"Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims," Asha Devi told ANI.

"Cannot believe how Indira Jaising even dared to suggest this. I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, not even once has she asked for my wellbeing and today she is speaking for the convicts. Such people earn their livelihood by supporting rapists, hence rape incidents do not stop," she added.

Asha Devi further accused Jaising of using "the garb of human rights" to make a living.

What are the updates on the Nirbhaya case so far?

A Delhi Court on Friday issued fresh death warrants against the four convicts -- Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and Vinay in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora fixed February 1 as the date of execution of the four death row convicts. They will be hanged at 6 a.m.

The move came after the prosecution moved an application seeking issuance of fresh death warrants following the rejection of the mercy plea of one of the convicts Mukesh by President Ram Nath Kovind.

While opinion is divided on whether the death penalty should be abolished, Jaising's words - and Asha Devi's scathing response - has also brought up the topic of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

The comments have also created a buzz on social media, with 'Sonia Gandhi', 'Rajiv Gandhi', and 'Indira Jaising' trending on Twitter.

Who is Nalini?

The Nalini mentioned in Jaising's tweet is Nalini Murugan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Arrested in 1991, she was sentenced to life imprisonment and has spent over 28 years in jail.

She has been granted parole twice - once for 12 hours to attend her father's funeral and in July 2019, for 30 days to arrange her daughter's wedding.

What was Nalini's role in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination?

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber in May 1991. Gandhi had been campaigning in Tamil Nadu when he was approached and greeted by a woman named Dhanu. She detonated the explosive even as she bent to touch his feet.

Nalini was the lone survivor of the the team behind the assassination. Photos taken by a local photographer, who died in the blast, exposed her association.

Reportedly she was the close aide of an LTTE operative. She had initially been sentenced to death for her role in the assassination.

Where does Sonia Gandhi come into the picture?

In the year 2000, Nalini's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi pleaded for clemency, citing the convict's daughter. Nalini had been pregnant at the time of her incarceration and delivered a girl in prison.

In 2008, Priyanka Gandhi met Nalini in jail.

Where is Nalini now?

Towards the end of November last year, she had written to Prime Minister Modi and the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court seeking mercy killing.

An India Today article quoted her advocate Pugazhendi to say that Nalini had been driven to take this decision by stress and a loss of hope.

The reason stated is that in 26 years they were hopeful that they would be released but that hope is now fading. Also, the prison officials are ill-treating her husband Murugan. She is unable to see the ill-treatment of her husband. She has also sent a petition to Tamil Nadu government seeking transfer to Puzhal Prison."

She had, earlier in the year moved the Madras HC seeking the direction of the Tamil Nadu Governor to approve the state's recommendation for the release of the seven convicts. She had also appealed to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami seeking an early release.

(With inputs from agencies)

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