Nalini Sriharan: The unfolding mystery
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The secrecy that shrouds the life of Nalini Sriharan ever since she was convicted for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi has always been intriguing for journalists. She is perhaps the longest serving woman prisoner in the world.

Nalini, who was a close friend of an LTTE operative known as V Sriharan alias Murugan, another convict in the case who had been sentenced to death, later gave birth to a girl, Harithra Murugan in prison.

Nalini, who has been in prision for over 27 years, wanted the high court to direct the suprintendent of police, Special Prison for Women in Vellor to produce her before the court so that she could argue her case for leave as a party-in-person.

Nalini lives to tell the tale. Since she has been the longest serving women prisoner, she has tried every bit to tell her side of the story. Finally she has been permitted by the Madras High Court to argue her case in the prison.

Nalini’s narrative of her 50-day ordeal in the custody of special investigation team probing Rajiv Gandhi assassination and the travails of her daughter Arithra born in jail, are not for the weak-hearted. Disrobed, punched in the chest, asked to make love with her husband in front of others, threatened with gang-rape by policemen, chained and kept in a 5X5 room for weeks and going through every possible third-degree torture in custody. Her pregnancy survived all this.

Not Many know it was Mahatma Gandhi who name Nalini's Mother as Padmavati, who was a nurse in a Chennai hospital when Sriharan , a lankan Tamil, entered their lives while looking for a house on rent. Srivasan made his entry soon after, since he, too hailed from the same area as that of Sriharan. within days, Srivarasan brought Dhanu, who later acted as the human bomb and Subha. After the assassination, Nalini had said the she was surrounded by blood-thirsty wolves.

Maintaining that neither she nor her husband were aware of the assassination plan, Nalini told Priyanka Gandhi when they had met that she was a prisoner of circumstances.

Priyanka Gandhi kept on asking Nalini about the assassination but Nalini was not able to asnwer as she was not an LTTE operative.

Nalini was born in Chennai. She had studied English literature and worked in a private company till Sriharan entered her life.

Her daughter, Arithra is now a doctor in London. Arithra as a child wailed for food in jail. With the help of several officials, she was sent to Coimbatore and later to Sri Lanka from where she went to Europe by illegal ferries along with her uncle and aunts. While India denied her student Visa, though she was born Indian, the UK government offered asylum and assistance, helping her all the way to become a docotr now.

The book Rajiv Assassination: Hidden truths and the meeting between Nalini and Priyanka is an autobiography of sorts and seeks to place before the readers the assassination and its aftermath, from Nalini's point of view. Throughout the book, Nalini insists she never had an inkling of the conspiracy until it had happened.

The book was compiled by journalist Ekalaivan, also speaks about the torture she claims to have faced as a pregnant woman at the hands of the police. Having spent 26 years in jail, Nalini still hopes to prove that she is innocent, so that she can be released and can lead a peaceful life with her husband and daughter.

-With inputs from online reports

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Free Press Journal

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