Harithra Srikaran, 22, who was born in jail while her parents underwent trial in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, issued an emotional appeal to the relatives of all victims, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
“I can understand what it feels like when you lose somebody you love. But all I am saying is my parents have not done the crime, and it is not fair to punish somebody who hasn’t done it. If others believe they have done it, (my parents) have spent 23 years in prison. I hope they deserve forgiveness,” the daughter of V Srikaran alias Murugan and S Nalini told a news channel on Thursday.
“I am really sorry for Rahul Gandhi… I can clearly understand how it feels,” she said.
With her parents, maternal grandmother S Padma and uncle P S Bhagyanathan in custody, Harithra was born and raised at the court complex. In May 1999, Padma and Bhagyanathan completed their sentences and were released, and Harithra was sent with them. Later that year, Congress president Sonia Gandhi sought clemency for Nalini, keeping in mind “the need of a mother for a child”. Nalini’s sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
In 2006, Harithra, who was with Murugan’s parents in Jaffna, wanted to complete her studies in Chennai. But the Indian mission there rejected her visa application, following which Nalini and Murugan went on a fast at the Vellore central prison. The Madras High Court ruled in their favour, but Harithra eventually went to Europe, where she is said to be pursing a medicine course.
Meanwhile, the family members of the other victims have decided to wait and watch before deciding their next course of action. “Now that the Supreme Court has intervened, we will see what efforts the Centre takes. Our position has remained the same over the years, that they should be punished for their crime, and we will move court if the Centre doesn’t,” said ‘League’ M Mohan, son of ‘League’ Munusamy, one of the victims.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.