Chennai: She knocked on every door and trekked from pillar to pillar, pleading for the release of her son in jail for 28 years for a crime she is convinced he had not done. Arputhammal, the mother of AG Perarivalan alias Arivu, serving life term in Vellore jail after conviction in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, met Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday pleading with folded hands and tears in eyes for her son's release.
VCK president and Chidambaram MP Thol Thirumavalavan and his party general secretary D. Ravikumar, who represents the Villupuram constituency in the Lok Sabha, both of whom facilitated the meeting as MPs, were also present at the Shah session. They later told reporters that the Home Minister promised to do the needful after consulting with the relevant people.
“We told the Home Minister that the mercy petition for their release is pending before the Governor. The power rests with the Governor now. We hope that a proactive role by the Government will help the Governor follow their lead,” they said. Mr. Thirumavalavan who handed over a copy of the mercy petition to Mr. Shah said already Tamil Nadu State Cabinet's recommendation under Article 161 is pending with the Governor for almost 11 months without any action.
“I feel that this mercy petition with your compassionate recommendation / forwarding letter will bring this long time impasse to an end,” the VCK chief said in the memorandum submitted to the BJP national chief.
In September 2018, days after the Supreme Court directed Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a decision regarding the release of the seven convicts, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet recommended their release to the Governor. The matter has been pending before the Governor ever since.
Along with Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Jayakumar, Perarivalan has been in jail for 28 years after being convicted in the assassination in 1991.
In June last year, President Ramnath Kovind had rejected Tamil Nadu government's plea to release the seven convicts. The President's decision was based on the advice of the Ministry of Home Affairs, sources claimed and in the absence of any communication from the Centre in this regard, Perarivalan's legal team was convinced that the matter could not have gone to the President without the involvement of a Central Ministry.
“They still haven't found out details of the belt bomb that was used for the assassination. This is despite Perarivalan filing a case in the matter,” advocate K. Sivakumar had said.
Arputhammal has been waging a legal battle for the release of her son for over two decades. The 71-year-old mother maintains that her son is innocent in the assassination by the LTTE.
Perarivalan was 19 years old in 1991, when Dhanu alias Thenmozhi Rajaratnam blew herself up near Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at a public meeting in Sriperumbudur, near here. Perarivalan had reportedly said that he was unaware of the purpose of the two nine-volt batteries he was asked to buy — the main charge against him.
But former CBI officer V. Thiagarajan, who recorded Perarivalan's statement at the time, had failed to include this as he assumed it would cast a shadow on the case or could have been a lie.
In January 2018, the Supreme Court gave the Home Ministry three months to decide on Tamil Nadu's proposal to remit the sentences of the life-term convicts.
The Centre had moved court against the State's proposal to cut short their sentences as they had already served more than 20 years in prison. Following this, on February 14, the MHA sought details on eight grounds from the State to look into its request to release the convicts.