‘My mother fought for me for 30 years’: Perarivalan addresses media after release

Released from prison more than three decades after he was jailed in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Perarivalan and his mother, Arputham Ammal, addressed the media for the first time since the Supreme Court verdict in his favour on May 18.
AG Perarivalan and mother Arputham Ammal
AG Perarivalan and mother Arputham Ammal
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Ahead of addressing the media, Perarivalan and his mother Arputham Ammal were seen sharing sweets with family members and supporters. As emotions ran high, the relief of his release, after being lodged in jail for 31 years, was visible on the faces of everyone gathered there. One of the seven convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Perarivalan was jailed for procuring nine-volt batteries, which were used in the improvised explosive device (IED) that had killed Rajiv. It was later revealed that he hadn’t known how the batteries were going to be used.

Addressing the media, Arputham Ammal said, “I apologise for keeping you all waiting, but I did not 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 the other leaders whom I don't even know, for supporting us for so long. People whose faces I do not 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.”

Speaking to the press for the first time since the Supreme Court verdict in his favour came out, Perarivalan said, “Tamils across the world stood in solidarity with me. They thought of me as their own family. My mother is responsible for the kind of support I have received. She fought for me for 30 years, despite all the humiliations and obstacles, particularly during the early years of my incarceration.” Stating that it was the love of his sisters, father and brother-in-law that had kept him going, he added that each time they lost a legal battle, he had been afraid to face his mother. “I was saddened that I was taking away her life and draining her of her strength. I always hoped that I would be freed while they are alive,” he said. 

“There are many people who have worked hard to help me, and I hope to thank them all one day,” Perarivalan said. “The sacrifice of Senkodi (a 20-year-old woman from Kancheepuram who immolated herself protesting the death sentence awarded to Perarivalan and others), my sister, played a huge role in my long journey. (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 the several letters he had written to former Prime Ministers for me. He wrote to Manmohan Singh saying he “kneeled before” him on my behalf. He did that because he believed in my innocence. Justice (retd) KT Thomas has fought hard for me. Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan has stood by me without even expecting a fee. The current Tamil Nadu government 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.” 

When asked about his next plans, Perarivalan replied, “I have just come out. I have only been able to think of this legal fight for the past 30 years. Let me breathe a little, and then I will decide on the future course of my life.” With regard to the remaining convicts in the assasination case, he added, “I have maintained that I am against capital punishment. This is not just out of humanity. Even legal experts have spoken out against it.”


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