Home India News Rajiv Gandhi assassins continue protest fast

Rajiv Gandhi assassins continue protest fast

Chennai, Sep 22 (IANS) S. Nalini and Robert Payas, in prison for the 1991 killing of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Tuesday continued their fast demanding their immediate release.

While Nalini began her protest at the Vellore jail Monday, Payas has been on hunger strike since Sep 17. Vellore is 130 km from Chennai.

Both Indians are undergoing life imprisonment for Gandhi’s assassination and contend that they have spent more than 14 years in jail. Nalini’s husband, Murugan, a Sri Lankan, is also in jail.

The superintendent of the women section in the prison, Vellore Jeyabharathi, told IANS over telephone: “Nalini is still on fast. She said she will fast till her release.”

The official added that under prison rules no one can meet a fasting prisoner.

Both Nalini and Payas were first sentenced to death. Later their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Last week, Nalini filed a petition in the Madras High Court asking the Tamil Nadu government to convene an advisory board to consider her case for release.

Nalini said that she had been entitled for release in 2005 because she had completed 14 years in prison.

In 2007, the Tamil Nadu government rejected her application for freedom. She filed a case the next year in the high court, which directed the state government to reconsider her request for release.

As the government has not constituted an advisory board yet, Nalini asked the court to form a board and submit a report to the state.

On Monday, the court asked the state government to respond in two weeks and posted the next hearing for Oct 6.

Gandhi was killed by a woman suicide bomber belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991.

Nalini had accompanied the killer squad to the venue. She helped the suicide bomber, known as Dhanu, to get to a spot at the rally ground where she (Dhanu) could access Gandhi on his arrival.

Dhanu, who wore a jacket strapped with explosives under her clothes, bent before Gandhi pretending to touch his feet. She then activated a toggle switch, setting off the explosives that killed Gandhi, herself and several others. Nalini and the others fled in the ensuing confusion.

Robert Payas was accused of providing a hideout to Sivarasan, a member of the LTTE intelligence unit who oversaw Gandhi’s assassination.

The Sri Lankan military destroyed the LTTE in May.