Priyanka confirms meeting Rajiv assassin

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New Delhi, Apr 15: Priyanka Vadra today confirmed the news report that she had met her father Rajiv Gandhi's assassin Nalini Sriharan in Vellore prison in Tamil Nadu about a month ago, and said the meeting was her way of coming to peace with violence and loss that she had experienced.

"It was purely a personal visit that I undertook completely on my own initiative," she said, adding that "I would be grateful if this could be respected." Though the meeting between Priyanka, the daughter of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, took place on March 19 this year, it was kept as a secret till a Tamil Nadu lawyer filed an application under the Right to Information Act seeking to know the details of the purported meeting at the special prison for women in Vellore.

There were already reports that Priyanka had visited Vellore on March 19 to pay obeisance at the Sripuram temple there.

"I do not believe in anger, hatred and violence and I refuse to allow it any power over my life," she said, while stressing that "the meeting with Nalini was my way of coming to peace with the violence and loss that I have experienced." Priyanka said she wanted to know why her father was made the target of the fatal suicide bombing that killed him at Sriperumbudur on May 21,1991.

Nalini Sriharan was the only surviving member of the five-member LTTE assassination squad that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She was awarded death sentence in 1998 by a special court for her involvement in the assassination case. However, the sentence was later commuted to lfie imprisonment after Ms Gandhi pleaded for clemency for the sake of Nalini's five year old daughter.

A leading newspaper said today that Priyanka became emotional during the hour-long one-to-one meeting and made Nalini sit next to her.

Quoting two lawyers of Nalini, now 43 years old, the newspaper said she took genuine interest in knowing why her father, a 'good person" was killed and why was her father killed.

Nalini reportedly told her that she knew nothing till the last moment, even though she was present at the assassination spot.

There are reports that the visit of Priyanka must have been prompted by the frequent letter she wrote to the Gandhi family.

Nalini believes that the visit may have been prompted by the frequent letters that she sends to the Gandhi family.

Nalini's lawyers said her client found Priyanka to be "very simple and loveable".


UNI

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