Several members of the Tamil film fraternity, writers, politicians, and other noted personalities, expressed their solidarity with Arputham Ammal, the mother of AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, during a social media campaign on Friday which marked the 31st year Perarivalan is spending in jail since his arrest in 1991.
Filmmakers Pa Ranjith, Leena Manimekalai, and Karthik Subbaraj, actor Prakash Raj, actor-composer GV Prakash Kumar, and cinematographer PC Sreeram, among several others, used the hashtags #31yearsofInjustice and #StandWithArputhamAmmal to demand the release of Perarivalan. They also shared a poster that read, “Perarivalan begins 31st year in prison since he was taken for a ‘formal enquiry’. Let us stand by Arputham Ammal in her uncompromising battle for justice and ensure freedom!”
A 19-year-old Perarivalan was arrested on June 11, 1991, on the charges of purchasing two nine-volt batteries for the explosive device that was used to assassinate the former Prime Minister. He was lodged at Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai. In 2018, the Tamil Nadu Government recommended the release of Perarivalan and six other convicts in the assassination case under Article 161. However, Governor Banwarilal Purohit, in February, sent the plea to the President for consideration, citing the latter as the “appropriate competent authority” to decide.
Arputham Ammal, in a video shared on Friday on Twitter, said, “They told us it would be a small investigation and that my son would be back the next morning. It has now been 30 years since the incident. He has spent more years of his life in jail than outside. No one believed me when I said at the time of his conviction that my son has no connection with the case and that he was framed. When Perarivalan was on death row, officer Thiagarajan who recorded his statement, said that if the statement had been recorded verbatim, my son would not have faced this fate. Perarivalan is facing punishment only because a few of his words were not recorded.”
Arputham Ammal expressed her grief over her son not being able to live a free life and added that during his time in jail, Perarivalan has contracted several illnesses for which he has not received continuous treatment.
Fearing that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may further worsen her son’s health, Arputham Ammal said she appealed for parole after the Supreme Court passed a verdict to release prisoners and decongest jails. “I had requested parole citing Perarivalan’s comorbidities and they gave a 30-day parole. But it is my sincere request, given the need to monitor his health and provide further treatment, that my son not be sent to jail again. He has spent a long time in already.”
On May 20, Tamil Chief Minister MK Stalin had granted a 30-day parole to Perarivalan on medical grounds.
Several other prominent personalities, including politician and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) President Thol Thirumavalavan, vocalist TM Krishna, and writer Meena Kandasamy, demanded justice for Perarivalan on social media on Friday.
It is to be noted that in November 2020, several members of the Tamil film industry, political leaders, and writers took to social media to demand the release of Perarivalan, a day prior to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Chennai. Actors Vijay Sethupathi and Arya, and director Bharathiraja, were among those who demanded his release at that time.