(died 21 May 1991
) was the assassin
who killed Rajiv Gandhi
, herself, and 14 others in a suicide bombing
on May 21
, in the Indian
town of Sriperumbudur
, near Chennai
. An associate of The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(the Tamil Tigers), Rajaratnam was also known as Gayatri
. Her birth year has not been conclusively established.
Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning in Tamil Nadu
for the upcoming parliamentary elections when the bombing occurred. The last time Rajiv Gandhi had been in power, his government was instrumental in sending an peace keeping force
into Sri Lanka
to help enforce a peace accord, which earned the ire of various Tamil militant groups. The troops he had sent in 1987 had fought the Tamil separatist guerrillas. .
Rajaratnam had the belt bomb with the explosive material in her lower back region and the power pack, two switches and the circuitry in front. One switch initiated the circuitry and the other activated the bomb. The explosive used was an RDX, about 10,000 2 mm steel balls were embedded in the bomb. After garlanding Rajiv Gandhi, Rajaratnam evidently stooped to touch Rajiv's feet and activated the explosive. Rajiv Gandhi might have tried to stop her; his face bore the impact of the blast.
Seven years later in 1998, an Indian court convicted twenty-six people in the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. Upon appeal, the death sentence of only four of the twenty-six people was upheld.