Perarivalan was the youngest accused in the case and was arrested in 1991.

Twenty five years in prison and a march for Rajiv Gandhi assassins
news Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 17:49

On Saturday, a group of people gathered at the Rajarathinam stadium in Chennai's Egmore carrying banners asking for justice. Leading the crowd was Arputhammal, a mother who has been resolute with her demand- the release of her son Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

As she marched from the stadium to the Secretariat for the release of her son, she was joined by about 300 others, including actor Sathyaraj.

“On June 11, 1991, the CBI took my son saying that they were taking him for questioning for a day,” Apruthammal told TNM. “It has been 25 years now, I want Jayalalithaa's government to release all the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,” she demanded.

Now 44, Perarivalan was the youngest accused in the case and was arrested in 1991. Although he was on death row along with the others convicted, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014 by the Supreme Court, along with that of two others – Murugan and Santhan.

However, over the last few years, Perarivalan’s case has become a focal point for voices that are pushing for the seven convicts of the case to be released. Moreover, Perarivalan has stood out even among these due to the ambiguity around his involvement in the assassination.

When he was convicted in 1991, it was for supplying a 9-volt battery that was used in the explosive device by Srinivasan who masterminded the entire operation. However, tried in the court under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), along with sections 302 and 120-B of the IPC, he was held for being accessory to the crime.

Other reports suggest that he was not aware of what his battery was going to be used for, which is also the reason why the justification for his punishment has been the most hotly debated.

In 2013, a documentary against death penalty featured his case too. The 55-minute film was called Uyir Vali (Pain of Life) and was made by People’s Movement Against Death Penalty. The film sparked fresh debate around the issue for it featured former CBI officer V Thiagarajan saying that he had modified Perarivalan’s statement while presenting it to the court. It was on the basis of this tampered statement that Perarivalan was held guilty.

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