While the move was a game changer for a party before the elections, the same proved to be a life changer for a handful of families.
We are not taking sides, especially when when we do not know the truth...not yet. With Congress vice-president and Rajiv Gandhi's son crying foul, the situation is growing more complicated, even though he and his sister believe in "non-violence" and "mercy". The political double-standardness may not have changed across these 23 years, but people and ideas do.
A G Perarivalan: One of the three prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination has a strong academic background. He completed his diploma in Electronics and Communication Engineering at the time of arrest and finished his Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) and Master of Computer Applications (MCA) through the Indira Gandhi National Open University while still in jail.
In 2012, he scored the highest among prisoners in the PLus Two Examination with 91.33%. In 2013, he received a Gold Medal for topping a diploma course examination conducted by the Tamil Nadu Open University. Accused of selling a 9-volt battery for the explosive device to assassination conspirator Sivarasan, he was arrested in Chennai.
His mother, who has been crying hoarse of his innocence was the first one to visit Jayalalitha to thank her.
Murugan and Nalini Srinivasan: While both of them have been insistent of their innocence for the past 23 years, there are evident streaks of guilt and repentance in their behaviour. A 2008 report by DNA reports her saying,"My sins have washed away", after meeting Priyanka Vadra (daughter of Rajiv Gandhi).
The meeting was confidential, with reassurances from Priyanka that she has been forgiven. Priyanka too did not throw any light on the conversation, apart from a single liner."I do not believe in anger or violence, and I refuse to let it overpower me. Meeting Nalini was my way of coming to terms with my father's death," she said.
Asked if she regretted the death of Rajiv Gandhi, Nalini had said,"he was a great leader and his death was a huge loss to the country."
Nalini had also thrown light on the fact that the three of them who have been awarded the death penalty were not the actual conspirators as the real ones-Sivarasan, Suba and Dhanu-were already dead.
Nalini, an Indian, was accused for accompanying the Sri Lankan suicide bomber to Rajiv Gandhi. She and her husband (then a close aide)-Murugan had been charged of conspiring the assassination with the prime and dead accused Sivarasan.
In the very same report by the DNA, one could also find Rahul Gandhi quoting."Both my sister and I do not believe in violence. Her meeting with Nalini was in this context. But, I have my own way of looking at things."
Murugan was 21 years old at the time of the assassination. He confessed that he was part of the LTTE and had also encouraged Nalini to do so. He was also a part of the suicide aquad. However, during his jail term, he was found crying in front of his daughter (born in prison) expressing his guilt and seeking forgiveness.
The couple now encourages their daughter Haritha to study further. A scholar of biomedicine at Glasgow University in Scotland, Haritha aspired to be a doctor in 2011 and she thanks her parents for the inspiration.
"In the letters they would encourage me to be serious about my studies. It is for them that I am enduring all the troubles and concentrating on my studies. They have lost the best part of their lives. At least I should give them happiness by living up to their expectations.It is a faint hope," she had said. (Read)
Guilt or no guilt, the Rajiv ruckus is an embarrassing example of Indian politics gone wrong, ruining the life of a family, a country and a group of disoriented youth who spent their lives in jail, away from their families, repentant and contemplative.