Perarivalan's kin on cloud nine; Stalin, others hail SC verdict
Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A G Perarivalan on Wednesday celebrated the Supreme Court verdict directing his release by playing the Tamil percussion instrument 'Parai' and now wants to breathe the air of freedom before thinking about his future, as the apex court ruling put an end to his three-decade prison term.
Political parties -- including the ruling DMK and opposition AIADMK, barring the Congress and BJP, wholeheartedly welcomed the verdict, with the Congress announcing a protest on Thursday against violence.
TNCC President K S Alagiri said while ''we don't want to criticise'' the SC judgement, we want to affirm that they (the seven convicts) are murderers and not innocent.'' Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber of the LTTE at an election meeting in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur in 1991. Perarivalan was charged with procuring batteries for the bomb used in Gandhi's assassination. He was 19 years old when he was arrested.
''I firmly believe there is no need for capital punishment. Not just for mercy...many judges, including Supreme Court chief justices, have said so and there are many examples. Everybody is human,'' he said, with his mother Arputhammal and relatives by his side.
''I have just come out. It has been 31 years of legal battle. I have to breathe a bit. Give me some time,'' he said when reporters asked how did he feel as a ''free bird'' and what his future plans were.
''Many unknown people have supported us. I don't know many people. I thank all of them,'' an emotional Arputhammal said while recalling the ''31 year battle'' her son endured.
Perarivalan later played the 'Parai', an ancient percussion instrument seen as a part of the Tamil pride, in an obvious sign of celebrating his freedom.
Welcoming the judgement, Chief Minister M K Stalin said it could find a place in the ''justice-law-political-administrative history.'' He recalled that the state had placed firm arguments in the court on Perarivalan's plea before the SC.
The outcome of the case reflected the Tamil Nadu government's efforts to establish the state's rights as it made clear that only the state government can decide on the matter and that the Governor could endorse its decision, he said.
While the AIADMK cabinet in 2018 had recommended the release of seven convicts in the case -- Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Jayachandran and Nalini -- to then Governor Banwarilal Purohit, no decision had been taken on the matter, he said.
Later, speaking to reporters, he said the DMK had in its election manifesto ahead of the 2021 state assembly polls mentioned that it would strive for the release of the seven convicts.
Perarivalan has been released on humanitarian grounds and on the basis of human rights, which was welcome, he added. ''Though delayed, this is a historic verdict,'' Stalin said.
Regarding the other six convicts, the government will hold discussions with legal experts on their release after going through the details of the judgement in today's case, the Chief Minister added.
The opposition AIADMK said Perarivalan's release was a result of the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's ''grit, farsightedness and legal acumen.'' The efforts taken by her to secure the release of Perarivalan and six others, and the legal nuances put forth by her were not few, party coordinator O Panneerselvam and joint coordinator K Palaniswami said in a statement.
''Perarivalan being released by the Supreme Court after 30 years in jail gives joy, satisfaction and relief to the AIADMK,'' they added.
They recalled her statement in the state assembly in February 2014 that if the Centre did not act on the matter quickly, the state government will release Perarivalan and the others as per a cabinet decision.
''The cabinet decision taken during the AIADMK regime is the base for today's Supreme Court decision. This is completely a victory for the AIADMK,'' the two leaders said, and urged the state government to take steps for the immediate release of the rest of the convicts.
Later, Perarivalan and his mother met Palaniswami.
TNCC chief Alagiri said Perarivalan was only released on legal nuances. ''We don't want to criticise the apex court verdict. At the same time, we want to stress that the culprits are murderers and not innocent people,'' he said in a party statement.
Hitting back at arguments from certain quarters over the Tamil sentiments behind the support for the convicts, he said many Tamils are languishing in prison for over 20 years and asked why no voices were raised for their release as well.
He exhorted Congress supporters to carry out a protest on Thursday by covering their mouth with white cloth and carry placards saying ''Let us oppose violence; murder is not an answer to difference of opinion.'' The hour-long protest should be held in important locations from 10 am.
BJP state president K Annamalai said the party ''accepts'' the apex court verdict, saying the relief to Perarivalan was given by the SC based on its extraordinary power under Article 142. ''We also believe the Supreme Court will not allow compromising with our unity, security and integrity,'' he said in a tweet.
CPI General Secretary D Raja said his party welcomed the verdict and pointed out at the long incarceration of Perarivalan. He also wanted the Governor to act in accordance with the Constitution and said the verdict raised many questions about the office of the gubernatorial post.
Just after the judgement was pronounced by the apex court releasing Perarivalan, relatives began arriving at his residence here. He offered sweets to Arputhammal.
His sister and her family who hastened to meet and greet Perarivalan turned emotional and expressed great joy over his release. They hugged him and expressed their happiness.
Perarivalan's father Kuildasan expressed great happiness over his son's three-decade incarceration coming to an end.
When reporters asked about Perarivalan's future plans, including wedding, Kuildasan said such matters will be discussed by the family.
Perarivalan, presently on bail, had been granted parole earlier on many occasions by the state government.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)