The inmates of the Vellore Central Prison for Men were speechless for a while before erupting in joy after hearing Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s announcement ensuring the release of the convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on Wednesday.
Arivu’s - or Education Minister, as he is called fondly by fellow inmates - imminent release raised the hopes of several other inmates who have served the maximum term.
Arivu’s presence in the jail had made a lasting impression on the minds of several inmates, who were encouraged by him to spend their time meaningfully and with
discipline. It was owing to him that many got themselves enrolled in distance education
programmes and diploma courses to pursue education from the prison.
Santhan and Murugan too developed good rapport with several detainees over the course of their imprisonment. Murugan was known as the prison priest.
According to a senior prison official, “On coming to know of the development, they remained speechless for several minutes. They hadn’t expected such an announcement, and that too within 24 hours of the SC commuting their death sentence.”
“The fellow convicts are really happy. The other death convicts (Mathu, Munyappan and Nedunchezhian) in Dharmapuri bus burning case are also confident that they too would be spared,” the official said.
Inmates were not alone in celebrations as the officials too joined in. Meanwhile, noises of crackers being burst and drums beats conveyed to the trio that their sympathisers were celebrating their release from the prison, outside.