Rajiv Gandhi assassination case Tamil Nadu

Let me breathe for now, says Perarivalan

A.G. Perarivalan playing ‘parai’ in front of his house at Jolarpet in Tirupattur district on Wednesday.

A.G. Perarivalan playing ‘parai’ in front of his house at Jolarpet in Tirupattur district on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: C. VENKATACHALAPATHY

“Let me breath the fresh air,” said Perarivalan, when asked about his future plans.

This ‘breathing freedom’ was foremost in the mind of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict, who has spent 31 years in jail. Out on parole (and later on bail), he came home in Jolarpet on Tuesday night. The family spent anxious moments till the Supreme Court set him free on Wednesday morning.

When the news broke, the family distributed sweets to mediapersons in front of their house. After his thanksgiving speech, reporters asked Perarivalan about his future plans - agriculture, politics or wedding. “For the past 31 years, my mind was focused only on the legal battle. Our hope in the judiciary never went away. We believed that we will win at some point. Mine is a classic example of how tedious the legal battle can be for an ordinary man,” he said.

On capital punishment, he said he was clear that it should not be in practice. “It is not about mercy. Everyone is human.”

“My mother’s sacrifice and struggle kept me going for 31 years. Initially, she faced many insults and humiliation. I have read Maxim Gorky’s ‘Mother’ four times. Each time, it has given me a new meaning. Later, I started relating my mother to it. I never told her that because I did not want to undermine our love. Both of us knew the truth and believed in justice. My mother and my father struggled a lot and sacrificed so much of their personal life. I am happy that I have been released during their lifetime,” he said.

Turning points

“The major turning point in the struggle for freedom was Sengodi’s sacrifice in 2011. Government and popular support came only after that,” Perarivalan said.

“In 2013, (ex-CBI officer) Thiagarajan IPS, in an interview [in which he said he did not record Perarivalan’s statement in full and had tweaked it to strengthen the case] and then in the court, gave statements...Justice K.T. Thomas’s interview and his articles, and the legendary Justice Krishna Iyer’s support helped a lot,” he said. “Krishna Iyer believed that I was innocent. That is why he wrote letters to Prime Ministers,” he added.

“For the past six years, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan argued without any fees. The Tamil Nadu government filed an affidavit, and then engaged constitutional experts like Rakesh Dwivedi, who argued expertly. Without the media, the truth and the change would not have come. It is a long list for thanksgiving,” he said.

To celebrate his freedom, he played ‘parai’ (a traditional drum) with a couple of artists before going back into his house with his family.

Earlier, his mother Arputham thanked everyone who had supported them. “Even strangers have supported our fight. When they call me on the phone, I would often cry. I am filled with gratitude,” she said. “We have to ponder what happens to a man imprisoned for 31 years,” she said, thanking the government and the courts.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 9:51:02 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/let-me-breathe-for-now-perarivalan/article65426912.ece