Congress party leaders and cadres who gathered across Tamil Nadu took out demonstrations with white cloths tied around their mouths.

TNCC protests against Perarivalan release in Coimbatore
news AG Perarivalan verdict Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 16:09

The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) on Thursday organised protest demonstrations across the state in response to the release of AG Perarivalan, convicted in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In Chennai’s Adyar neighbourhood one of the participants in the protest was Anasuya Earnest, a police officer and one among the 45 persons who were injured when the LTTE exploded an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), killing Rajiv Gandhi. The blast also killed 16 others and the two suicide bombers.  Speaking to TNM, Anasuya, who is now state secretary of TNCC said, “I was on bandobast duty as a sub-inspector when the blast occurred and a witness on behalf of the state when the trial was on. The blast has left deep marks on me. There are shrapnel still lodged in my body. I retired as Additional Superintendent of Police and joined the Congress. So today as a Congresswoman, I am participating in the protest to condemn the release of Perarivalan,” she said.

Similar protests were held in Trichy and Coimbatore too. Party cadres tied white cloths around their mouths, as a symbol of “silent protest” and carried placards saying “we are opposed to atrocities! Killing is not the answer to differences of opinion.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had ordered the release of Perarivalan or “Arivu” as he is widely known, invoking Articles 142 and 162 of the Constitution. Many, particularly Tamils, see Perarivalan’s release as a welcome move due to debates surrounding his conviction and the level of involvement in the assassination plot. He was arrested and charged in 1991, when he was a 19-year-old based on his confession to having bought two nine-volt batteries used in the IED.

Anasuya Earnest, who was a sub-inspector  on duty at the time of the blast and was among the 45 people injured.

 In 2017, Thiagarajan, an ex-CBI officer who investigated the case, admitted to having omitted the part of Perarivalan’s confession where he states of being unaware of the purpose behind the battery purchase. Thiagarajan also went on to express remorse for the time Perarivalan had spent in jail. In 2018, the Tamil Nadu state cabinet recommended that Perarivalan be released along with the six others convicted in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on humanitarian grounds. The recommendation made by the state cabinet remained pending before the Governor for almost two-and-a-half years before it was forwarded to the President.

TNCC State General Secretary K Ramalinga Jothi told TNM ahead of the protest that he does not believe in Perarivalan’s innocence and it was only because of “certain aspects of the law, such as the remission of a life sentence after 14 years” that Perarivalan has been freed. “He was convicted for murder but people are celebrating his release with sweets and music as if a freedom fighter has come out of jail. Rajiv Gandhi thought of Tamil Nadu as a mother’s lap. He had absolute trust in the people of Tamil Nadu. His murder was pre-planned. Releasing someone convicted in this case is atrocious,” he said, adding that the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, which falls on May 21, was around the corner.

It is also of note, that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi made any statements since Perarivalan’s release. An  IANS report quoting senior party leader and former union minister S Thiruvanavakarasu said Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have no regrets over the release of Perarivalan.

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