‘I don’t have anger...I forgive’: Rahul Gandhi on his father Rajiv’s killers

‘I don’t have anger...I forgive’: Rahul Gandhi on his father Rajiv’s killers
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the killing of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in 1991 brought him tremendous pain but he nursed no anger or hatred towards those responsible for it and he forgave them. During an interaction the Congress MP had with students of a state-run women's college in Puducherry, a pupil asked, "Your father was killed by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) what are your feelings about these people?” Rahul Gandhi answered saying violence cannot take away anything. "I don't have anger or hatred towards anybody. Of course, I lost my father and for me it was a very difficult time," he said, adding, it was similar to having one's heart severed. "I felt tremendous pain, but I don't feel anger, I don't feel any hatred or any anger. I forgive," he said to rounds of applause. To the next question related to his political innings despite losing his father and grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, he said, "Violence cannot take away anything from you... my father is alive in me...my father is talking through me." Rahul interacted with students of Bharathidasan Government College for Women and asked them to not address him as 'sir' and instead call him 'Rahul,' while most addressed him as Rahul 'Anna' (elder brother). He earlier had a dialogue with people from the fishermen community. Answering a question on his friends and girlfriends, he said he had plenty of friends including those both with political background and people who shared similar interests. When the student repeated the question on girlfriends, he said, "We leave that for another day." To a student who said she could not pursue engineering though she loved it, he advised her to chase her dream and assured her of support and that he would speak to her parents if she wanted. Rahul’s younger sister and AICC General Secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi has in the past also spoken about forgiving her father’s killers. In an interview with Barkha Dutt, she had detailed how she coped with Rajiv Gandhi’s death. “In the beginning, when my father was killed, I didn't realise it but I was absolutely furious inside. Not just with the individuals who killed him, I was furious with the whole world,” she said, noting that the anger passed when she grew up. “The minute you realise you are not a victim and the other person is as much a victim of the same circumstances as you are...then how can you put yourself in a position when you are someone to forgive someone else. Because, you know your victimhood has disappeared,” said Priyanka. She had met Nalini Sriharan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case at the Vellore Central jail in 2008. Speaking of her meeting, she said it was her way of coming to terms with her loss. Significantly, though most parties supported the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) had opposed it.  TNCC chief KS Alagiri had said a few months ago that if the Rajiv case case convicts were to be set free, a demand would arise for the release of all "murder convicts" who had spent over 25 years in prison. "If the court announces the release of seven Rajiv case convicts, we will accept it. However, political parties rooting for their release is unacceptable," Alagiri had said. The Tamil Nadu government had in 2018 recommended to Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of all seven convicts. However, on February 4, the Governor acting on a plea by AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts, said the President should take a call on his release. Rajiv Gandhi was killed on May 21, 1991 by a woman suicide bomber at Sriperumbudur near Chennai in a poll rally. The LTTE was defeated in the 2009 civil war in Sri Lanka. (With PTI inputs)  

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