"Dhanu was in front of the house we were going to enter and then disappeared into the walls."

When the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi saw human-bomb Dhanus ghost Nalinis account
news Book Excerpt Friday, November 25, 2016 - 13:51

The secrecy that shrouds the life of Nalini Sriharan ever since she was convicted for the assassination Rajiv Gandhi has always been intriguing for journalists. She is perhaps the longest serving woman prisoner across the world. When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, Nalini was clandestinely married to Murugan, and was pregnant. Since then, she has been meeting Murugan only once every fortnight inside the jail premises, sometimes even forfeiting the right when she decides to lodge a protest for other demands, like being allowed to meet her daughter.

When Priyanka Gandhi met Nalini in Vellore Jail in early 2008, the meeting was again shrouded in mystery. Much was speculated over the years, before Nalini opened up and said what had really transpired.

The book Rajiv Assassination: Hidden truths and the meeting between Nalini and Priyanka is an autobiography of sorts and seeks to place before the readers the assassination and its aftermath, from Nalini's point of view. Throughout the book, Nalini insists she never had an inkling of the conspiracy until it had happened. 

The book will remain a controversial and yet important document on Rajiv's assassination. 

The book has been compiled by journalist Ekalaivan and published through his Yaazh Pathippakam. Eklaivan acknowledges the support of Nalini's lawyer Pugazhendhi, Nalini's husband Murugan, and Murugan's friends Erode Perarivaalan and Vellore Saravanan in helping him work on this book. 

The following is an excerpt from the book, recounting what happened in the immediate aftermath of Rajiv’s murder.

Translation by Kavitha Muralidharan

(Also read: Moments before Rajiv’s murder: Nalini’s account of the assassination which shook India)

 

The Human Bomb! (Chapter 5)

By Nalini Sriharan

Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi was walking towards the stage. We were in the last row of the women’s enclosure till then. Shuba suddenly held my hand and dragged me outside the venue. Even as I was walking with her, I kept asking why she was doing so. I told her I wanted to meet the Thalaivar (leader). “We can, be silent and come now,” she told me.

We would have walked 200 feet towards the road, and I heard a huge explosion. It was common to welcome leaders by exploding crackers, but this one was leaving the area devastated. I turned back and saw a ball of fire and smoke between the sky and the land. The place was filled with commotion. People were running helter-skelter. I am sure many people would have been hurt in the stampede. I was still clueless over what had happened. After a while Shuba stopped. I was shaking in fear and my throat was parched. I still don’t know what had happened, but I was sure something had gone wrong. People were still running in panic.

Now, Sivarasan was hurriedly coming towards us. “Come let’s leave. We cannot stay here any longer. Lots of confusion,” he told us, and took us to the road. I was worried about Dhanu and asked him where she was. “She is fine. She is with some acquaintances and would reach safely. Let us leave now,” he said, and hired an auto. Inside the auto, we did not speak to one another. I could see Shuba was confused and angry. I was still sweating in fear and shock. Sivarasan stopped at a new house. I was keen to go to the Royappettah house, but couldn’t find a vehicle. Sivarasan and Shuba insisted that I stay back and leave in the morning. I was left with no option. Something more shocking happened next.

Twenty-five years have passed since, but I still tremble with fear when I think of it. I have lost sleep on countless nights thinking about this.

We alighted from the auto and were walking towards the house. I suddenly saw Dhanu walk in front of me. All of us could see her. I wondered how she could reach the place before we could. I looked at Shuba. She too was visibly shocked, and asked me to remain silent. Dhanu was walking in front of us, wearing the same attire she wore when she left home, carrying a sandal garland. I wanted to reach out to her, but Shuba asked me to be silent. I could see everyone was seeing Dhanu. Shuba and Sivarasan were also shocked. Dhanu was in front of the house we were going to enter and then disappeared into the walls. We never discussed it but later during the CBI enquiry, the four of us had separately recorded our statements about Dhanu’s ghost.

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