Ex-Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination accomplice gets parole

An Indian court Friday granted a 30-day parole to Nalini Sriharan to allow her to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 July 2019

Ex-Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination accomplice gets parole

  • A court in Chennai on Friday suspended Sriharan’s life imprisonment sentence for a month after she filed a plea for a six-month parole to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding
  • Rajiv Gandhi was the son of former PM Indira Gandhi and the father of Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: An Indian court Friday granted a 30-day parole to a woman convicted three decades ago over her role in the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by militants.
Gandhi and 14 others were killed in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu by a female suicide bomber belonging to Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Nalini Sriharan, an Indian national, was arrested soon after the bombing and found guilty — together with her husband and 25 others — of conspiracy and helping the teenage bomber, Thenmozhi Rajaratnam.
Her death sentence was commuted on a clemency plea by Gandhi’s widow in 2000. Three others are still awaiting execution.
A court in Chennai on Friday suspended Sriharan’s life imprisonment sentence for a month after she filed a plea for a six-month parole to make arrangements for her daughter’s wedding.
Sriharan was pregnant when she was arrested, and delivered the child in prison. Her daughter is a UK national and a doctor.
Gandhi — prime minister between 1984 and 1989 — was campaigning for mid-term national elections in 1991 when militants targeted him over his decision to send the Indian army to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was in the grip of a decades-long armed conflict between the majority Sinhalese government and minority Tamils demanding an independent country for the ethnic group.
The civil war — which ended in 2009 — killed at least 100,000 people, and the Tamil rebels enjoyed widespread support from their ethnic kin in Tamil Nadu.
Rajiv Gandhi was the son of former PM Indira Gandhi — assassinated in Delhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 — and the father of Rahul Gandhi, who stepped down this week as head of the opposition Congress party.


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 10 August 2020

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”