Ideals of those against our release belong to Stone Age: Ravichandran

After serving nearly three decades in prison, 53-year-old R P Ravichandran walked out of Madurai Central Prison

Published: 14th November 2022 03:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th November 2022 03:06 AM   |  A+A-

Court Hammer, judgement, order, Gavel

Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

Express News Service

After serving nearly three decades in prison, 53-year-old R P Ravichandran walked out of Madurai Central Prison a free man on Saturday and was accorded a warm welcome by his family members and residents of his hometown Surappanayakkan Patti in Thoothukudi district. Speaking to TNIE's Gayathri Venkatesan, Ravichandran recalled the misery behind bars, and plans for his future. Excerpts from the interview:

Why do you think the Congress party expressed disappointment over the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts?

A. When the court convicted us, they had no problem accepting it. So, why can't they accept the court's order now? First of all, we had nothing to gain by being part of the assassination. A common perception emerged that we were the prime accused after it was reported that we had foreknowledge about the conspiracy. If anyone believes that our release was a mistake, then that person's ideals date back to the stone age and require reformation.

What did you feel when you first heard about Sengodi's suicide (the 20-year-old woman died by suicide in 2011 to protest the death sentence awarded to Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan)?

A. Sengodi's death ignited feelings in Tamil people across the world. More human rights activists took up our cause after that extremely unfortunate incident. I believe she sacrificed her life for all of us (the seven convicts), and not just for three of us.

What plans do you have for the future?

A. So much has changed in the last three decades. It might even take me six months to adjust to my surroundings. I want to spend a lot of time with my family. I am interested in agriculture and our family owns a farm. So, yeah, that is something to look forward to. I will also take steps to translate the books, including 'Sivarasan Top Secret' and 'Ezhuvar Viduthalaiyam Oruvar Viduthalaiyam', which I authored in Tamil into the English language. I also plan to offer some help to those I shared the prison years with.

Do you have any plans to meet Nalini, Perarivalan and other convicts?

A. We all came to know each other only after entering prison. Among them, Nalini is quite close to me. Right now, I haven't planned anything, but it would be nice to meet everyone later. If Nalini asks for any legal help on behalf of her husband, I'll do what I can.

May I ask how you spent the money you managed to save in prison?

A. In 2018, I came to know that some persons were trying to set up a Tamil Chair at Harvard University in the US. I send them `20,000 for that initiative. Other than that, I have contributed to the relief fund for victims of the Gaja cyclone and the Covid-19 pandemic.

When you look back at your time in prison, what do you feel?

A. I was lodged in a solitary cell. To overcome loneliness, I used to talk with the policemen who were posted outside. Depression was inevitable, but I tried to shift my focus to reading. I also got to help other inmates with legal matters. I got to meet with people from different walks of life and with different characters.

How much support did you receive from your family during the legal battle?

A. The whole episode would have been unbearable if not for my family's support. Words can't explain the hardships my mother P Rajeshwari (71) and brother P Saravanan (47) went through. While languishing in prison, my only desire was to come out and end their suffering. I would like to extend my gratitude to all Tamil people and political parties who stood by my side.

India Matters


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