Penning his side of the story as a death row convict in prison for the past 21 years in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, A.G. Perarivalan's book An Appeal From The Death Row (Rajiv Murder Case — The Truth Speaks) was released by Communist Party of India general secretary A.B. Bardhan here on Tuesday in the presence of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko, CPI leader D. Raja and Perarivalan's mother Arputham Ammal.
The book, whose Hindi translated edition was released, narrates the incidents, facts, the handling of the case and Perarivalan's letters, and appeals for justice.
The book release comes in the wake of the rejection of the mercy petition of Perarivalan along with two other death penalty convicts Murugan and Santhan in the same case by the President of India earlier this month.
Advocating the case for commuting Perarivalan's death sentence, Mr. Bardhan said: “Despite being in public and political life for so long, reading about his torture and the so-called confession statement extracted from him in prison moved me to tears. The police torture in our country can be compared to what the Americans did at Guantanamo Bay.”
Issue of conscience
“The only way out to prevent his death penalty is to request the government to commute his sentence from death to life imprisonment. We must do this for a just cause. It is our duty and an issue of our conscience to make this demand. This request has been granted in other cases of this nature before and so it should be done in the case of these three persons as well. Let this be the last door Perarivalan's mother has to knock on,” he said.
Arputham Ammal also made an emotional appeal in Tamil to the gathering to help get justice for her son. Choking with emotions and finally succumbing to tears while reading the lines from her son's latest interview in prison, in which he describes his thoughts and aspirations, she said:
“The police and the CBI have fabricated the case against my son and his confession statement was recorded forcibly. In all such cases, while the rich get away, it's the poor and underprivileged who have to suffer. My son went to jail when he was 19. In his last interview he said that he wants to see the world, hold my hand and thank all those who supported his appeal. I appeal that we raise our voices against his death sentence and take steps to save him along with the two others as they are innocent.”
Coordinator of the Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in South Asia Jagmohan Singh, who was also present at the event, pushed for more transparency and clear-cut guidelines to deal with cases of those on death row. “This is needed as the Indian judiciary and the Indian establishment has been following double standards regarding capital punishment cases in India.”