The historical verdict, from the Supreme Court, of acquitting Perarivalan has put his kin on a cloud nine as now 50-year-old quinquagenarian is free after experiencing three decades of incarceration in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. While the long legal battle ended with victory for Perarivalana's family, several events of celebrating his release have been held across Tamil Nadu.
Several political leaders in Tamil Nadu including Chief Minister MK Stalin had welcomed the verdict and expressed wishes for Perarivalan. On the other hand, the families and relatives of the victims who were killed along with Rajiv Gandhi in a bomb blast in 1991 are not happy over the verdict of releasing Perarivalan. The development has drawn attention when the prison department in Tamil Nadu had issued an official statement about releasing Perarivalan.
Speaking to a news agency, Mohan, the son of Munusamy who was the former Congress MLC in Tamil Nadu who died in the blast along with Rajiv Gandhi has said that the Supreme Court has now released a murderer and asked whether it will release all the convicted murderers. Mohan said the verdict is a shame to the country as he recalled the celebrations and distribution of sweets over Perarivalan's release.
S Abbas is a mobile repair shop owner in Chennai. He was eight years old when his mother Samdhani Begum was killed in the blast. Reacting to Perarivalan's release, Abbas said he never expected this order. "The convicts say they had spent 31 years in jail, but we too had suffered for 31 years. Under the reason for Governor's delay, Perarivalan has got released", he added and asked whether they thought about the people who got affected by this incident.
Anasuya was a sub-inspector of police when she was injured in the blast. She is now retired and reacting to Perarivalan's release, she said that she suffers from pain due to her injuries even now. She questioned, "If they release these six convicts, then will they also release those convicted in the Coimbatore bomb blasts? Why they should be kept in jail, when they can just release everyone?." Along with the kins of those who had died in the blast, the Congress party has also expressed displeasure over the verdict of releasing Perarivalan.
Speaking to PTI, the Congress party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Today, there is sorrow and fury not only in every Congress worker over the development but in every citizen who believes in India and Indianness. A terrorist is a terrorist and should be treated as one. Today, we are deeply pained and disappointed at the decision of the Supreme Court ordering the release of Rajiv Gandhi's assassin."
The Tamil Nadu Congress unit had conducted demonstrations across the state on Thursday - May 19. K Ramalinga Jothi, TNCC's General Secretary said, "We will hold protests at all district headquarters by tying a white cloth around our mouths to show our shock, from 10 am to 11 am." Earlier on Wednesday, TNCC President KS Alagiri said that the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts were not innocent. However, Alagiri has claimed that he was not contesting the verdict of the apex court and said that the verdict was based on legalities. He further said that the Supreme Court had earlier convicted Perarivalan long ago and that now he was being released by the same court citing legalities.
In his Twitter post, Alagiri wrote, "We don't want to criticize the judgement of the Supreme Court. At the same time, we want to emphasise that the perpetrators are murderers and that they are not innocent." He stated that the Supreme Court's decision to release the convict as a judgment on whether the Tamil Nadu Governor was constitutionally right in referring to Perarivalan's petition for mercy to the President of India without taking a decision.
On May 21, 1991, the blast set off by a suicide bomber of LTTE in Sriperumbudur had killed the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who came for a campaign, and 15 others including the bomber. Perarivalan was arrested after the blast after he was accused of procuring batteries for the bomb. He was awarded the death penalty in 1999 and it was commuted to life in 2014. He was one of the seven convicts and in 2017, former CBI officer Thiagarajan, who inquired Perarivalan after the bombing, has revealed that he had failed to add Perarivalan's statement in his confession that he didn't know the purpose of why he bought the batteries.
Thiagarajan had questioned Perarivalan in 1991 and recorded his statement. Two decades later, the CBI officer has admitted that he had omitted to record an important part of Perarivalan's confession. Perarivalan was imprisoned for 31 years and he was fully released on May 18, 2022, based on the verdict in which the Supreme Court has invoked Article 142 of the Constitution. The apex court bench, comprised of Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai, and AS Bopanna has invoked its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution and released Perarivalan, who was already on bail. The apex court was of the view that the inappropriate delay in deciding Perarivalan's early release plea by the Governor under Article 161 has warranted his release.