A day ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Chennai on Saturday, several members of the Tamil film industry, political leaders, and writers took to social media to demand the release of AG Perarivalan, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case of 1991.
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. In 2018, the Tamil Nadu government recommended the release of Perarivalan and six other convicts in the assassination case under Article 161. The recommendation, however has been lying with Governor Banwarilal Purohit for two years. According to The Indian Express, Perarivalan, who is lodged in Chennai’s Puzhal Central Prison, wrote to the Governor on January 25, a few days after the Supreme Court pulled up the CBI for failing to progress in its investigation of the larger conspiracy behind Gandhi’s assassination.
On Friday, as #ReleasePerarivalan began trending on Twitter, veteran director Bharathiraja issued a statement demanding the release of the convict as per the Supreme Court order and stressed that it was disappointing that the order has not yet been executed.
— Bharathiraja (@offBharathiraja) November 20, 2020
Tweeting a photo of Perarivalan and his mother Arputhammal, who has been pleading for 29 years for her son’s release, actor Prakash Raj wrote, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“1000 culprits can escape, but, one innocent should not be punished”….🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 please join with us to stand in solidarity .. please share this #ReleasePerarivalan #JustAsking pic.twitter.com/vJ3fwaWx4R
— Prakash Raj (@prakashraaj) November 20, 2020
Several others from the film fraternity also took to social media to plead for his release.
நீதி, நியாயம், சட்டம், தர்மம் அத்தனையையும் தாண்டி கால் நூற்றாண்டு கடந்தும் கண்ணீரோடு போராடும் ஒரு தாயின் தவிப்பைப் பாருங்கள்… சிறை தண்டனையில் அல்லாடுவது பேரறிவாளன் மட்டும் அல்ல, தாய் அற்புதம் அம்மாளும்தான். #ReleasePerarivalan pic.twitter.com/bLEuDbx5sy
— Arya (@arya_offl) November 20, 2020
30 years of Jail for a man who never committed the crime..
30 years of Struggle of a Mother to get his Son back..
Request our @CMOTamilNadu & Governor to give Justice to them 🙏A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Please Let the Mother & Son live a free Life atleast from now..#ReleasePerarivalan @ArputhamAmmal pic.twitter.com/kc7wa4FLVs
— karthik subbaraj (@karthiksubbaraj) November 20, 2020
From officers , to the people in our system who were part of the probe have voiced their apprehension and hv put forward their point of view.
Collective voice of the people should be respected .
Let him see the light aft 30years #JaiHind
— pcsreeramISC (@pcsreeram) November 20, 2020
Emphasising on the struggles of Arputhammal pleading for her son’s release for nearly three decades, actor Vijay Sethupathi posted a video requesting the Tamil Nadu governor in the release of Perarivalan, as per the Supreme Court order.
— VijaySethupathi (@VijaySethuOffl) November 20, 2020
Writer and poet Meena Kandasamy tweeted, “Tamil epic heroine Kannagi fought the state against wrongful execution of her husband. Today’s heroine of epic proportions is Arputham Ammal, who at 72, has spent 29 years demanding #ReleasePerarivalan, freedom for her wrongfully-imprisoned son. Support her fight. @CMOTamilNadu.”
Political leaders, including VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan and S Ramadoss of PMK, demanded the release, too.
Taking to Twitter, S Ramadoss wrote, “The IO has stated that Perarivalan was innocent, & has to be released; The SC has ruled that there is no legal impediment to release him. The TN Cabinet has also recommended for his release, yet refusing to release Perarivalan is unjust. #ReleasePerarivalan immediately.”
— Thol. Thirumavalavan (@thirumaofficial) November 20, 2020
The release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is a sensitive issue in Tamil Nadu. While it has divided electoral allies DMK and the Congress, the AIADMK has maintained its distance from making any strongly-worded statements on the issue and has only questioned the governor’s delay in giving his assent to Perarivalan’s release.