Seeking solace, Rajiv convicts turn spiritual

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Vellore (TN), March 16: Convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Sriharan and Santhan lodged in the Central prison here for nearly 25 years, have turned deeply spiritual. Out of the seven convicts in the case, V Sriharan alias Murugan and Santhan are regular visitors to the temples within the jail premises.

They offer prayers to deities of Goddess Amman, Ganesha and Sai Baba in the temples, according to highly placed prison sources. "Both Sriharan and Santhan have turned very spiritual. Both are regular visitors to the temples within the jail premises to offer prayers, they follow stipulations like rituals during particular times", the sources said.

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The transformation happened over the past several years and the two convicts introspect a lot, the sources said.

However, Arivu alias Perarivalan, another accused in the same case is an atheist. Sriharan, who sports a saffron shirt, has gone even a few notches higher in his spiritual life with regular meditation sessions in his cell.

He is also the husband of Nalini, another convict in the same case and lodged in the women's prison here. "He even discusses his spiritual pursuits, efforts to understand spirituality better with his wife Nalini. Usually, he is allowed to meet his wife once or twice in a month. Like other convicts, Sriharan and others also work in prison and they are trained in craft like tailoring," the sources said.

After the death penalty of Sriharan and Santhan was commuted to life sentence in 2014 by the Supreme Court, they had attributed it to the grace of God.

Nalini is interested in reading books, newspapers and magazines to keep herself abreast of the developments. Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Gnanadesikan had earlier this month written to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi informing him of the government's decision to remit the life sentences of the seven convicts in the Rajiv case.

The seven are V Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, A G Perarivalan alias Arivu, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini -- and sought Centre's views on the matter. The decision of the State government is supported by political parties including the DMK.

All the seven were convicted in the assassination case of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 during an election rally at Sriperumbudur near Chenani.

PTI 

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