Nalini, five other Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts walk out of prison

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the immediate release of six life convicts who have been in prison for more than three decades in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Updated - November 18, 2022 04:29 pm IST

Published - November 12, 2022 06:30 pm IST - Chennai:

Rajiv Gandhi case convict Nalini Sriharan breaks down after meeting her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan after their release from prison in Vellore on November 12, 2022.

Rajiv Gandhi case convict Nalini Sriharan breaks down after meeting her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan after their release from prison in Vellore on November 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: C. Venkatachalapathy

The six life convicts — Nalini, R.P. Ravichandran, Santhan, Murugan, Robert Payas and Jayakumar — in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were freed from prisons on Saturday evening after the Supreme Court ordered their release.

Director-General of Police (Prisons) Amaraesh Pujari told The Hindu, “After receiving the orders of the Supreme Court on Saturday afternoon, we completed all the formalities for the release of the prisoners. Subsequently, we have set them free from our prisons... Two of them — Nalini and Ravichandran — who were on ordinary leave were recalled and they reported back to the prisons. They were set free later after finishing the formalities...”

Nalini Sriharan and her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan, convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, after their release from prison, in Vellore on November 12, 2022.

Nalini Sriharan and her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan, convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, after their release from prison, in Vellore on November 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Nalini was released from the Special Prison for Women, Vellore. Murugan and Santhan were freed from the Central Prison, Vellore, Robert Payas and Jayakumar from the Central Prison, Puzhal, and Ravichandran was freed from the Central Prison, Madurai.

Following its order in May directing the release of life convict A. G. Perarivalan by invoking its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court on Friday invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction to extend the same benefit to six others convicted and ordered that they be set free forthwith. The court held the six are on the same footing as they all also spent more than 30 years in jail.

Prison authorities handed over to each of them the cash that they had earned through working in prison. They also carried books and other non-valuable personal belongings from the prisons.

Murugan, Santhan, Robert Payas, and Jayakumar were escorted to the Special Camp (Foreigners Detention Centre), Tiruchi, which was identified by the District Collector, Tiruchi. The Foreigners Regional Registration Officer issued an order on Friday and the order stated the foreigners will not move out of boundaries of the special camp until they are deported to their home country.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Ravichandran reacts after his release from the Madurai Central Prison on November 12, 2022.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Ravichandran reacts after his release from the Madurai Central Prison on November 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Reacting to her release after 32 years in prison, Nalini told The Hindu, “I am not happy about my release because I lost most of my life serving the term in the prison. I was disheartened today (Saturday) when I saw that my husband (Murugan) being taken in a vehicle that was used to take dogs while being shifted to a special camp in Tiruchi. Nevertheless, I will continue my struggle to bring him out of there soon.”

Asked about whether she will continue to stay in Vellore, she said, “I don’t have anything in Vellore anymore. As my husband was shifted to Tiruchi, I will also move there so that I can meet and interact with him.”

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