Nalini Sriharan (Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Convict) Biography & More

Nalini Sriharan

Full NameS Nalini Sriharan [1]The Statesman
Famous ForBeing India's longest serving female prisoner
Physical Stats & More
Height (approx.)in centimeters- 162 cm
in meters- 1.62 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 4”
Eye ColourBlack
Hair ColourBlack
AchievementTopper in the MCA exams conducted by IGNOU among all the prisoners (2009) [2]The Hindu
Personal Life
Date of BirthYear: 1967
Age (as in 2020)53 Years
HometownAmbalavanapuram, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
College/University• Ethiraj College, Chennai
• Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
Educational Qualification(s)• BA in English-language literature (from Ethiraj College, Chennai) [3]The Print
• Master of Computer Applications (from IGNOU in 2009) [4]The Hindu
Relationships & More
Marital StatusMarried
Husband/SpouseSriharan alias Murugan
Nalini and her husband Murugan
ChildrenDaughter- Harithra
Harithra Sriharan
ParentsFather- P Sankara Narayanan (died in 2016)
Mother- Padmavathi Ammal
Nalini's mother

Nalini's mother

SiblingsBrother- P. S. Bhagyanathan
Sister- Kalyani

Nalini Sriharan

Some Lesser Known Facts About Nalini Sriharan

  • Nalini Sriharan is one of the convicts who is facing a life sentence in the assassination case of Former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi. She is lodged in the Tamil Nadu’s Vellore Central Prison. She has spent nearly 30 years in jail and is the longest-serving women convict in India.
  • Nalini was born into a well-educated Malayalam family. Her father worked as a police inspector in the Tamil Nadu Police, while her mother was a nurse in a Chennai hospital. Reportedly, the father of India, Mahatma Gandhi, was the one who named Nalini’s mother as “Padmavathi”
  • Nalini is the eldest child of her parents. She has two younger siblings; a sister, Kalyani, and a brother, P. S. Bhagyanathan.
  • In February 1991, Nalini came in contact with Murugan, a Sri Lankan national and LTTE activist who reportedly influenced and attracted her to join the LTTE movement.
  • On 21 May 1991, Nalini went along with the assassin’s team, including Sivarasan (key conspirator), Subha (conspirator), Dhanu (human bomb), and Haribabu (photographer), to attend Rajiv Gandhi’s political rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. Nalini and Subha were sitting in the crowd when Dhanu detonated the IED which killed Rajiv Gandhi.

    A picture taken by cameraman Haribabu captured Nalini and Subha sitting in the crowd

    A picture taken by Haribabu captured Nalini and Subha sitting in the crowd

  • After the assassination, Nalini stayed on a run with Murugan for several days. On 14th June 1991, Special Investigation Team (SIT) arrested Nalini, along with Murugan, whom she had recently married, from the Saidapet bus stand in Chennai (Madras).
    A picture of Nalini and Murugan when they were arrested by the SIT in 1991

    A picture of Nalini and Murugan when they were arrested by the SIT in 1991

    Nalini Murugan

  • Nalini used to work in as a stenographer in a private company before she was arrested.
  • Nalini was two months pregnant with Murugan’s child when she was put in prison. On 21 January 1992, she gave birth to her daughter in jail and named her Megara. After giving birth, Nalini was not allowed to see her daughter until two years. Megara was released from prison after she turned 6. After getting out of prison, she was renamed as Harithra and then was taken to London by her paternal grandmother. Harithra now works as a medical practitioner in London.
    Nalini and Murugan with their daughter in prison
  • As the TADA court concluded her trial, she was found to be guilty under the section 120B (for being party to Rajiv Gandhi assassination conspiracy) read with IPC Section 302.
  • On 28 January 1998, she, along with 25 other convicts, was sentenced to death by the TADA court. Several human rights groups protested for the death sentence. Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, wrote a plea to the Supreme Court of India seeking to cancel Nalini’s death sentence as that would orphan her innocent daughter. As a result, on 24 April 2000, the Supreme Court of India commuted her death sentence to life imprisonment.
  • The CBI had also arrested Nalini’s mother and brother in 1991, in relation to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination; however, the Supreme Court acquitted them in 1998. [5]The Free Press Journal
  • While serving her sentence in prison, Nalini attained an MCA (Master of Computer Applications) degree from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). She emerged as a topper among the inmates who took the MCA exams with her. [6]The Hindustan Times
  • On 19 March 2008, Nalini met Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, in prison. She told her that neither her husband nor she was aware of the conspiracy of Rajiv Gandhi’s killing.
  • In 2016, Nalini released her autobiography titled – Rajiv Kolai: Maraikkappatta Unmaigalum, Priyanka Nalini Santhipum (English Title – The Rajiv Assassination: The Hidden Truths And The Meeting Between Priyanka And Nalini). The book of over 500 pages, unveils the tale of her life, comprising her childhood, her love affair and marriage with Murugan, then the circumstances because of which she became privy to Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination, her arrest, the ordeal she faced in prison, birth of her daughter in prison, the life in jail, her meeting with Priyanka Gandhi and much more.

    Cover page of Nalini's book

    Cover page of Nalini’s book

  • Till 2020, Nalini has come out of prison on parole for three times. The first was for her brother’s marriage in 2004, the second was in 2016 on her father’s demise, and the third was parole (for 51 days) in July 2019, for her daughter’s marriage.
  • Nalini has written plea letters several times to the Madras high court, seeking premature release; however, all of them have been rejected.