AG Perarivalan, one of the life-term convicts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been granted parole for 30 days by the Tamil Nadu government.
A letter by Niranjan Mardi, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, to the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, Vellore, cited the health condition of the convict's father and instructed that he 'should be provided with strong police escort during the period of leave.'
This is the first time he has been granted parole since his arrest as a 19-year-old just days after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991. Perarivalan aka Arivu has spent over 26 years in prison, much more than he has lived outside.
Arivu's mother AG Arputham had filed several petitions with the Chief Minister’s special cell, seeking the release of her son on parole to meet his ailing, aged and bedridden father, and she was finally granted the request. The ordinary leave has been granted as per rule 19 of the Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules 1982.
Reacting to the news, Perarivalan’s sister, Anbumani, who works as an assistant engineer in the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Krishnagiri, said, “We will fully believe it only after he actually comes out. A year back, they said he would be released and we were happy beyond words. But it never happened. This time we are more cautious but we can’t help but be excited about the possibility.”
In March 2016, the State government had decided to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assasination case after they had served 24 years in prison. However, the Supreme Court ruling later that year held that State governments cannot unilaterally decide on the grant of remission to life-term convicts in cases investigated by central agencies like the CBI.
Anbumani, who had got married three months after Perarivalan was sent to prison, says, “My son is now 25 years old and he has never seen my brother except in jail. When he was just 20 days old, we took the baby to prison for my brother to see."
“Our father cannot walk; he’s bedridden. He is even weaker mentally since he has not seen his son in 26 years. We are extremely happy about the news. My family and I are leaving right away from Krishnagiri to our parent’s house in Jolarpettai,” said Perarivalan’s younger sister, D Arivuselvi.
She said that in the 26 years that he has been incarcerated, her brother had come out of prison only once to be admitted in hospital after he was attacked inside the jail.
Perarivalan sustained grievous injuries to his head, hands and knees and was admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Adukkumbarai on September 13, 2016 after he was reportedly attacked by a life convict named Rajesh Kanna in Vellore Central prison.
Perarivalan's death sentence, along with that of fellow convicts Murugan and Santhan, was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014.
Besides the AIADMK, parties like PMK and DMK have been actively rallying for the release of the convicts.
MK Stalin, DMK working president, said in a tweet, “Perarivalan’s release on parole is a welcome move. His parole should be extended based on his need and wishes. At the same time, based on humanitarian grounds and the procedures followed in other countries, the Centre and State must take measures to release Perarivalan permanently, without delay.”