Common charges against the seven convicts: 120-B r/w 302, 326, 324, 201, 212, 216 of IPC; 3,4 and 5 of Explosives Substance Act; 25 of Arms Act; 12 of Passport Act; 14 of Foreigners Act; 6(1-A) Wireless and Telegraphy Act; 3,4 & 5 TADA
Arrested on June 14, 1991
Charges framed under: IPC 302, read with 34; 324 r/w 34; 326 r/w 34; 3(2)(i) of TADA r/w 34 IPC; 3(2) (ii) TADA r/w 34 IPC; 3(3) TADA; 4(3) TADA and 4(1) r/w 34 IPC
The eldest child of S Padma, a nurse, Nalini completed her graduation from a Chennai college and was pursuing her Masters through correspondence while working as a stenographer for a private company in the city.
According to the prosecution, Nalini became close to pro-LTTE activists — and allegedly even the active cadres — at a printing press run by her brother P S Bhagyanathan where pro-Tamil Eelam literature was printed. It was here that she reportedly met V Srikaran alias Murugan, whom she married days before getting caught. Through Murugan, she reportedly met the suicide bombers, Dhanu and Subha, and their leader Sivarasan.
Nalini and Murugan were on the run after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. On June 11, 1991, Nalini’s mother and brother were arrested by the SIT (they were later released). Three days later, the couple too were in custody.
The TADA court sentenced Nalini to death along with 25 other accused on January 28, 1998. By the time the verdict was announced, Nalini had given birth to a daughter who had just turned six.
In November 1999, Sonia Gandhi, in consultation with her children Priyanka and Rahul, requested the then President K R Narayanan to commute Nalini’s death sentence to life, “keeping the need of a mother for a child” in mind. In May 2000, the death sentence was commuted to life by then Tamil Nadu Governor M Fathima Beevi. Priyanka visited Nalini at the Vellore Central Prison for Women in March 2008.
While behind bars, Nalini got a Masters degree in Computer Science and six other diplomas. Her daughter is studying medicine in Europe.
Arrested on July 22, 1991
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA; 14 of Foreigners Act
A Sri Lankan national, Santhan grew up in the same Lankan town as S Packiachandran alias Raghuvaran, the key LTTE figure in the assassination plot who was known as Sivarasan. Santhan came to Chennai in February 1990, accepting an offer from Sivarasan to continue his further studies here, arranged and funded by the LTTE. In Chennai, he enrolled at the Madras Institute of Engineering Technology but did not attend many classes.
Initially, Santhan allegedly was given duties like being an observer in the murder of Padmanabha, the leader of a rival Tamil group EPRLF. He is said to have met LTTE chief V Prabhakaran and his intelligence wing head Pottu Amman after the incident. The prosecution said Santhan returned to India in May 1991, following Amman’s instructions. After the assassination, Sivarasan reportedly woke up Santhan at around midnight and informed him about the blast.
Arrested on June 14, 1991
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA; 14 of Foreigners Act; 6(1-A) of Indian Wireless and Telegraphy Act
Another Sri Lankan Tamil, Murugan joined the rebels in 1988 and was soon inducted into the intelligence wing of the LTTE. The prosecution claimed that Murugan trained new operatives, before Pottu Amman sent him to India in January 1991. It was in Chennai that Murugan met Sivarasan.
Murugan was accommodated in the house of Padma, and soon had a relationship with her daughter Nalini. He was told about the blast by AG Perarivalan and Nalini’s brother Bhagyanathan at around 1:30 am.
Soon afterwards, Murugan, Nalini and Padma went on the run. The couple got married while in Tirupati, but were arrested soon.
Arrested on September 26, 1991
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA; 3(4) TADA; 212 IPC; 3(1) & 25 (1-B) (a) Arms Act
Sri Lankan Tamils and related by marriage — Payas is married to Jayakumar’s sister — the two were allegedly sent to India by the rebels to set up safe houses for the main accused who undertook the operation. They were also charged with aiding the surviving members of the assassination party and concealing weapons. However, the Supreme Court turned down the death penalty awarded by the trial court, holding that they were not found to be part of the actual conspiracy.
Arrested on June 18, 1991
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA
Arrested on January 6, 1992
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA; 3(4) TADA; 212 IPC; 5 of TADA; 3(1) & 25 (1-B) (a) Arms Act
According to the prosecution, Ravi was an active member of the LTTE and had visited Lanka for arms training where he met the rebel leadership several times. He was introduced to Sivarasan by Pottu Amman during one of his trips, and asked to make arrangements for Sivarasan. He was reportedly arrested once along with an LTTE operative in Chennai in 1988. In his case, too, the court reduced the death penalty to life due to the absence of any clinching evidence against him.
Arrested on June 19, 1991
Charges framed under: 3(3) TADA; 109 and 302 IPC; 109 and 326 IPC; 109 and 324 IPC; 6(1-A) of Wireless & Telegraphy Act and 09 IPC; 12 of Passport Act; 4(3) TADA punishable u/s 4(1) TADA and 109 IPC r/w 34 IPC
Perhaps the most well-known among the seven, Arivu was charged with helping the conspirators by procuring materials including a 9V battery used in the assassination, a motorcycle, battery wire and other articles for wireless set, a multimeter for testing the various electrical equipment and opening bank accounts with fake addresses to facilitate money transfer.
A diploma holder in Electronics and Communication Engineering, he was soon dubbed the bomb maker. But Arivu and his family insisted he was innocent, a claim which received a boost after former CBI SP Thiagarajan and chief investigating officer K Ragotha-man revealed the evidence against him may not be as strong as it was made out to be. His mother Arputham Kuildasan emerged as a champion for abolition of death penalty, criss-crossing the nation for support to her efforts to save her son.
Arivu completed BCA and MCA, and six other certificate courses — most of them with gold medal among prisoners — in jail, and is now planning to register for M Phil.
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