Perarivalan (50), who had been a convict with a long-term prison sentence in India, is now free. After three decades of incarceration, it's time for Perarivalan to have a permanent breather so is for his parents - particularly his mother Arputhammal, who deeply fought a legal battle to have a full release for his son. On Wednesday- May 18, the Supreme Court has released Perarivalan, who was one of the seven convicts in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Perarivalan had already been on bail and after the Supreme Court's historical verdict had granted him a full release, it was an emotional moment for his family as after hearing the judgment, they broke down into tears and hugged each other while Perarivalan had celebrated the moment by playing Parai (a traditional instrument) with the local people as the developments were watched by across and beyond Tamil Nadu. The people across Tamil Nadu had celebrated the verdict by distributing sweets.
More than Perarivalan, Arputhammal was flooded with wishes as she has been complimented for his courage and grit to fight for justice in the midst of enduring struggle and pain. Perarivalan is now free after 31 years of incarceration and his residence in Jolarpettai in the Thirupathur district had witnessed a huge gathering of people and media persons. Perarivalan had addressed the media for the first time in three decades during which he thanked his mother for her fight.
Perarivalan said, "Tamil people across the world stood in solidarity with me. They thought of me as their own family. My mother is responsible for the support that I have received. She fought for me for thirty years, despite facing humiliations and obstacles, particularly during the early years of my incarceration. I was saddened that I was taking away her (Arupthammal) life and draining her of her strength. I always hoped that I would be freed while they are alive."
He further said that it was the love of his sisters, father, and brother-in-law that had kept him going and added that he was afraid to face his mother, each time they lost a legal battle. "There are many people who have worked hard to help me and I hope to thank them all one day", he added. As Perarivalan enters a new life with his parents, he has a lot of people to thank including then 20-year-old Senkodi, who had sacrificed her life by immortalising herself to protest the death penalty awarded to Perarivalan and others. To honor his sacrifice, Perarivalan has named his house after Senkodi.
Perarivalan has cited that Senkodi has played a huge role in my long journey. He said, "I have to thank former CBI officer V Thiagarajan for his admittance of not having recorded the entirety of my confession, Justice Krishna Iyer for writing several letters to the former Prime Ministers for me. He had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying he kneeled before him on my behalf as he believed in my innocence. Retired Justice KT Thomas has fought hard for me and advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan has stood by me without even expecting a fee. "
"The current Tamil Nadu government has consulted legal experts on my behalf. If the media had not been supportive, this day could not have happened. Jail officials have also given me their support", he added. Speaking about his future plans, he said, "I have just got released. I have only been able to think of this legal fight for the past 30 years. Let me take a little breather and then I will decide on the future course of my life." Responding to the remaining convicts, Perarivalan said, "I have maintained that I am against capital punishment. This is not just for humanity. Even legal experts have spoken out against it."
Addressing the media, Arputhammal said, "I apologise for keeping you all waiting, but I didn't know what to say. I want to thank all of you. Our struggle has lasted 30 years. I want to thank Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, and all other leaders whom I don't even know, for supporting us for so long. People whose faces I don't know have called me and said they stand in solidarity with me. It would bring tears to my eyes. I also want everyone to take a minute to think about how it must feel to spend 30 years in prison."