Perarivalan's Mother a Symbol of Perseverance, Hope

Published: 18th February 2014 04:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th February 2014 04:08 PM   |  A+A-


Arputhammal will finally sleep in peace tonight after 23 years, for her perseverance and belief in the judicial system paid off today with the Supreme Court commuting to life term the death sentence given to her son Perarivalan in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

67-year-old Arputhammal had all along maintained that her son was innocent and was waging a battle, touring various states to mobilise support from several quarters including political party leaders to realise her goal, which fructified with the apex court commuting the death penalty of her son and two others to life term on grounds of delay in disposing their mercy pleas.

The gutsy old woman has been a symbol of patience, determination and hope to those who witnessed her walking into various courts for hearing and advocating abolishment of capital punishment in the media and selling books and DVDs as part of her campaign in the past two decades.

Ever since Arputhammal sent her then 19-year-old son with the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for probe soon after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur, she has been waiting for Perarivalan to return home.

She could not be see her son's transition from a teenager into a man-- except visiting him at the special cell at Vellore prison on some occasions.

The ageing mother's long struggle has had a mix of terrifying moments -- when she heard the secret execution of convicts Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru in terror cases and her hopes were revived when Supreme Court recently ruled that delay by the government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.

While her son was sending clemency petitions from the prison to the President and the Supreme Court repeatedly, Arputhammal continued her struggle outside.

She also took to other platforms of voicing her opinion-- like in the latest 'Chennai Book Fair' in January, where she had put up a stall and sold books and DVDs on abolition of death sentence.

"I am extremely happy about the humanitarian judgement given by Chief Justice of India Sathasivam Bench. I have to now launch a struggle for his release. But, I think it would not be that difficult (for the release), since the former CBI official has said that Perarivalan did not know about the murder (plot to assassinate)," she told reporters here.

She praised Chief Justice P Sathasivam for his judgement "from the peak of humanitarianism" and recalled how the sentence of 15 death convicts were commuted. "My wish is that there should be more such judgements in the future. That is my request."


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