Relatives gather at Vellore jail to meet their loved ones

It was an emotional get-together of family members with Perarivalan and Murugan, whose death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, at the Vellore Central Jail on Tuesday.

Arputhammal, who fought almost a lone and long battle for years to save her son Perarivalan from the gallows, was accompanied by her two daughters and close relatives when she came to the prison around 3 p.m. She thanked the Supreme Court for saving her son's life and appealed to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to set Perarivalan and others in the case free.

As Ms. Arputhammal walked to see her son in the jailor's chamber, Perarivalan said: “Now you need not worry about me. I will come home. All your efforts and prayers have been answered today.”

Perarivalan’s father T. Gnanasekaran (73) said in Krishnagiri that he was now eagerly waiting for his son’s release.

“The commutation of the death sentence was a victory for the collective fight by like-minded social organisations and political parties,” he said.

Somani, mother of Murugan, and Padma, mother of Nalini, also came to the prison after the judgment. “We feel greatly relieved today. It is a landmark judgment that has saved the lives of three persons. We want to express out heartfelt gratitude to the Supreme Court and appeal to the Tamil Nadu government to facilitate the early release of our children,” Ms. Padma said.

Ms. Somani has demanded the release of all three convicts who have suffered incarceration for the last nearly 23 years.

Speaking to journalists outside the Special Prison for Women here after meeting Murugan’s wife, Nalini, another life convict in the case, Ms. Somani said she and her relatives were suffering for the last 22 years owing to the imprisonment of Murugan. “We were in great mental agony after the death sentence was slapped on Murugan. We thank all those, including politicians, social and Tamil activists and our lawyers who fought against the death sentence on the three persons involved in the case. We also thank the Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Sathasivam for having commuted the death sentence to life,” she said.

Asked whether she would plead for the release of Murugan and others, Ms. Somani said she had given a mercy petition to the Tamil Nadu government. “In the wake of the Supreme Court order, we will again represent to the Tamil Nadu government to release all the life convicts in the case,” she said.

Ms. Somani, who earlier met Murugan in the Central Prison for Men said both Murugan and Nalini expressed happiness at the judgment. Ms. Padma also met Murugan and Nalini.

Ms. Somani requested the Centre to grant visa to Haritha, 22-year-old daughter of Murugan and Nalini, currently studying medicine in London, to enable her to meet her parents. She had been very eager to meet her parents for several years, but could not do so as the Union government denied visa to her, she said.

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