A 20-year-old woman immolated herself inside the Taluk office in Kancheepuram on Sunday evening, protesting the death sentence awarded to Santhan, Murugan and G. Perarivalan alias Arivu, convicted of plotting the 1991 assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
P. Senkodi died within two hours after she set herself on fire. She emptied two litres of petrol from a bottle before setting herself ablaze.
Police sources said eyewitnesses had noticed a young woman, dressed in a salwar kameez, walking into the office around 5.45 p.m. Minutes later, they heard a woman's cries and rushed to the spot and noticed her engulfed in a ball of fire. Residents and the skeleton staff of government offices, including the police and fire stations, put out the fire. A government ambulance stationed nearby rushed her to the Government General Hospital, where she succumbed to injuries around 7.30 p.m.
Police sources said Senkodi was completely charred above her waist and her chances of survival were slim when she was brought to the hospital.
Senkodi, they said, had left behind a letter stating that she was protesting the capital punishment awarded to Murugan and Santhan, both Sri Lankan Tamils, and Perarivalan, an Indian, and the subsequent rejection of their mercy petitions by the President. Their execution has been fixed for September 9.
According to these sources, she wanted to emulate K. Muthukumar, a youth who had sought to highlight the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils by immolating himself at Shastri Bhavan in Chennai on January 29, 2009.
A resident of Orikkai village on the outskirts of the temple town, Senkodi was the daughter of Parasuraman. A member of ‘Makkal Mandram,' a non-governmental organisation involved in issues of child and bonded labour in Kancheepuram district, Senkodi participated actively in street theatre performances and other awareness campaigns on issues of social importance, playing the “thappattai,” a traditional percussion instrument.