Forty-five-year-old A G Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, was Thursday granted a month-long parole by the Tamil Nadu government. This is the first time he has been granted parole since he was taken into custody in 1991. Following completion of the procedures, he left for his home in Jolarpettai around 9 pm.
Soon after the media reported about the order, Arputhambal, Perarivalan’s mother Arputhambal told The Indian Express: “I won’t believe it until my Arivu comes out. I was promised this several times.”
Perarivalan was granted parole following his petition citing the bad health of his father, Tamil poet Kuyildasan (75). At 10.15 pm Thursday, Arputhambal said her son was on the way. “We are waiting. His elder sister has reached and the younger one is on her way from Chidambaram.”
Perarivalan’s parole has always been a controversial issue and no ruling party in the state wanted to give him reprieve, considering sensitivity of the case. Rejecting his first parole petition recently, prison authorities said he was sentenced under central laws and could not be granted parole under the Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules, 1982. However, the latest order cited that he has undergone the sentence awarded under the central Acts. It added that what he is serving now is only imprisonment under IPC Section 302 and it is open to the appropriate authority (state government) to consider the case.
After being sentenced to death by a TADA court in 1998, an order upheld by the Supreme Court in 1999, Perarivalan’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014.
The main charge against Perarivalan was based on his statement that he supplied a battery that was used in the bomb. “… I bought two 9 volt battery cells and gave them to Sivarasan. He used only these to make the bomb explode,” said his confession statement. However, CBI SP V Thiagarajan, who recorded the statement, later confessed that Perarivalan never said he knew the battery he bought would be used to make the bomb. “Such a statement wouldn’t have qualified as a confession statement. There I omitted a part of his statement and added my interpretation,” he told The Indian Express on June 13, 2016.
Claiming innocence, Perarivalan has been fighting his case for over two decades through RTI petitions. His parole has been granted a week after the apex court heard his plea against the prosecution version that makers of the bomb, resourceful enough to get hold of explosives and other parts of the IED that are usually in custody of military establishments, depended on Perarivalan to buy a battery. The court has now sought results of a probe by the CBI-headed Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency to tie the loose ends of the case.
The state’s move to grant parole appears to be politically significant when it faces the possibility of a floor test. U Thaniyarasu, an Independent MLA in Dinakaran faction, is a Tamil leader who has been batting for parole of convicts in the assassination case.