Brows creased and an almost fossilised pain in her eyes much before age took its toll…. ask Arputham Ammal about her age and she knows only one thing for sure. Thirty-one years of her life have been spent fighting the injustice that was thrust on her son. A.G. Perarivalan was just 19 when he was picked up under provision of the Terrorist and Disruptive Act (TADA)
Why? He was accused of providing batteries that were used to detonate an explosive-laden belt by a suicide bomber to assassinate former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
From then till now, there have always been ongoing legal battles, protests and demands by state governments and various other parties to release Perarivalan. Even when he walked out free Wednesday after the Supreme Court verdict, all he had to say was “My freedom owes to my mother.”
Arputhammal, now a familiar face on media, did not leave a stone unturned in her quest for justice. Along the way, she garnered a huge support from the Tamil community who stood by her stand: “The 19-year-old had suffered for little fault of his own. His old parents need him by their side towards their last leg.”
Among the most vocal for her have been Tamil Nadu CM Stalin and actor Kamal Hasan.
Activists of Pro-Tamil outfits came out on the streets in several parts of the state, raised slogans hailing the SC verdict and condemned the inaction of the state Governor on the 2018 Cabinet recommendation to release him and six others, besides the Centre’s alleged complacency in the matter. Peravialan’s father Kuildasan expressed great happiness over his son’s 30 year incarceration coming to an end.
However, as reported by a section of the media, it was Arputhamma’s matter of fact comment, that is reason to believe that each end is only the start of a new beginning. When asked about her 52-year-old’s wedding, she is reported to have said: “He is just out. Let him breathe carefree and then we will start looking around for suitable girls.”
Significantly, in 2006, Perarivalan released his autobiography “An Appeal From The Death Row” where he mentioned how he was implicated in the conspiracy. This case has seen many twists and turns, noteworthy also being the November 2013 statement by former CBI officer, V Thiagarajan. He is stated to have recorded Perariavalan’s confession when in TADA custody. “Perarivalan never said that he was aware that the battery was bought for making a bomb. I altered his statement to make it appear a confession,” was the officer’s statement which hugely bolstered his defence.