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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightThirty one years of...

Thirty one years of life

Thirty one years of life

Perarivalan, who was initially sentenced to death and later commuted to life imprisonment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has finally been released from jail. As Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin responded, these are historic moments of joy and relief of his taking 'new breath of freedom' after three decades. The loss of 31 years of life cannot be replenished though; however, the Supreme Court's intervention could pave the way for the release of Nalini and Murugan, who are still in jail in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Debates along that path have begun. The Supreme Court released Perarivalan using Article 142 of the Constitution as a prerogative. Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government had approached the governor for the release of 'Arivu'. The government asked for the release of Perarivalan using Article 162 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court, with its special powers, ordered the release of 'Arivu' when the Governor tarried maximum in taking a decision having been caught up in the Raj Bhavan-Government tussle. Naturally, this intervention should have kicked up a major political controversy. Not only did that not happen, but the judiciary's intervention in general was widely accepted. Remember, Perarivalan and others were convicted in the assassination of the former Prime Minister of the country. Yet, another kind of political consciousness that those including 'Arivu' are not guilty and should be freed led the country in general. The change followed the belated realisation that the facts were beyond what the investigating agencies and the media had convinced the public after Rajiv's death. From that moment on, the society began to hear the voices of people, including Perarivalan's mother Arputhammal. Many in the media initially called Perarivalan a "bomb-making specialist".Media ran stories that Perarivalan holding diploma in electronics and communications made the belt bomb used in the blast.At that time, he was 19 years old. When the TADA court sentenced him to death seven years later, the public still believed it. The investigation team told the court that 'Arivu' had bought two nine-watt battery cells and used them to make the bomb. As proof, the bill for the purchase of the battery was also submitted to the court. Nobody asked if you would get a bill when you bought two batteries in Tamil Nadu 31 years before. Human rights activists and media raised counter questions after realising that most of the allegations filed in court were trumped-up. Those questions paid off. The death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court in 1998 was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014. Alongside, some of them were granted parole for the first time in 2017. The emancipation of 'Arivu' is now a reality following such interventions by civil society and the media.

11 years ago, while waiting for the gallows, Perarivalan wrote: "It is a great tragedy that a man who roamed the streets freely twenty years ago is suddenly portrayed as a terrorist and a murderer. I never thought that identifying with fellow human beings in distress and trying to wipe away their tears would lead to being considered a murderer. "'Arivu' can forget, at least for the time being, those words written in protest of the judiciary and the country's criminal investigation system and in deep despair at his fate. 'Arivu' can now walk through those streets with old freedom with the memory and lesson of 31 years. But tens of thousands are still languishing in jails in this country with the same protest and frustration in those words. Most of them found themselves to be terrorists and murderers all of a sudden. Among them are those who have identified with their fellow human beings and declared solidarity to them. At a time when freedom of 'Arivu' has become a great celebration, we have a responsibility to remember people who were denied justice. May ' Arivu' also become a symbol of their liberation and freedom.

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TAGS:Perarivalan casePerarivalan released
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