Chennai: Harithra Sriharan, the 22-year-old daughter of Murugan and Nalini, who were convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has sought forgiveness from the former prime minister's son Rahul.
"I'm really sorry for Rahul Gandhi. My parents have regretted enough, they deserve forgiveness. I can understand losing someone you love," Harithra said to NDTV on the phone from the United Kingdom, where she has lived for the last nine years.
"I have suffered the same punishment. I deserve to be with my parents. Though I have parents who are alive, I have never had them. Even if they had done the crime they've suffered enough," she said. (Rajiv Gandhi's killers to be freed if Centre doesn't respond in three days: Jayalalithaa)
Harithra also profusely thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for her cabinet's decision to free her parents, after the Supreme Court spared three men, including her father Murugan, from execution earlier this week. (To stop Rajiv Gandhi killers' release, Centre to move Supreme Court)
"I'm thankful to Ms Jayalalithaa. She made it possible. I can't express how happy I am. I always knew one day my parents would walk free. They are innocent," she said.
Rahul Gandhi, 43, said yesterday of that decision, "Rajiv Gandhi's killers are being set free, I am saddened by this. I am personally against the death penalty but this is not about my father. If a Prime Minister's killers are being released, what kind of justice should the common man expect?" ('If PM's killers are freed, can common man expect justice?': Rahul Gandhi)
He was a month shy of his 21st birthday when his father was assassinated by a woman operative of the Lankan Tamil separatist outfit LTTE, who greeted him with a sandalwood garland and a bomb strapped to her chest during an election rally in 1991.
Murugan and his wife Nalini Sriharan were among seven people arrested and convicted. They have been in jail for the last 23 years. Harithra was born in Vellore jail and raised there for the first two years of her life.
Her parents were handed the death sentence in 1999. In 2000, Nalini was granted mercy after Congress president and Rajiv Gandhi's wife Sonia Gandhi intervened.
Recollecting that intervention, Harithra, now a student of Bio Medicine in the UK, said, "I admire Sonia Gandhi. She had all reasons to be angry but she forgave my mother. I will never forget Sonia Gandhi".
Harithra, who left for the UK in 2005, now wants to come back to meet her parents. "I would want to receive my parents outside the Vellore jail and take them to be with me," she said, repeatedly thanking the "Supreme Court, the judges and all the people".