Nalini Sriharan, India’s longest-serving woman prisoner and convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, is set to walk out of the Vellore central prison on a month-long ordinary parole.
The Madras High Court had on July 5 granted her the parole, her first such leave in 28 years of incarceration, to make arrangements for the wedding of her daughter, Harithra Sriharan, who was born in prison and is currently a medical practitioner in London.
Nalini was granted 12-hour parole in 2016 to attend the last rites of her father P Sankara Narayanan.
According to Nalini’s counsel M Radhakrishnan, Nalini may be released on an ordinary parole on Sunday or Monday after completing prison formalities. She was forced to move a petition in the high court after the state prison authorities did not respond to her requests for parole.
However, Nalini may not come to her Royapettah home in Chennai. “We have made arrangements for stay in Vellore during the parole period. We do not want to entertain anyone, media or politicians, as per the parole conditions set by the court. She prefers to spend these 30 days with her daughter and close relatives,” Radhakrishnan said.
Confirming her stay in Vellore, a source close to her family said that they have already arranged the house. Her close relatives, including mother Padmavathi, sister Kalyani and brother Bhagyanathan are expected to be with Nalini during the parole period. The source close to Nalini’s family said it has been a long time since Nalini and her husband Sriharan alias Murugan have seen their daughter, who lives with Sriharan’s mother Shomani and other relatives in London. “Charithra left the prison in her early childhood, so Nalini is left with nothing but the old clothes Charithra used since her birth in prison… she was taken by the family of a co-prisoner in Coimbatore where she was admitted in a school under a different name and studied for three years. Later, Murugan’s parents took her to Sri Lanka before they managed to migrate to the UK at the peak of the Lankan war,” the source said.
Nalini was pregnant when she saw the blast that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and she fled Chennai along with Sriharan after realising that the assassination was executed by people whom she had been accompanying for several days, the court held. In a portion in the SC judgment about Nalini, Justice K T Thomas observed Nalini as “an obedient participant without doing any dominating role”.
“She realised only at Sriperumbudur that Dhanu was going to kill Rajiv Gandhi. But she would not have dared to retreat from the scene because she was tucked into the tentacles of the conspiracy…She knew how Sivarasan and Santhan had liquidated those who did not stand by them,” Justice Thomas wrote. Nalini was a graduate in English Literature and was working for a private firm at the time of her arrest. Her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000.