Perarivalan Release: Kin of LTTE Blast Victims Seek Justice for Their Pain

The aggrieved families asked why the government failed to even acknowledge their loss in the blast.

4 min read
Perarivalan Release: Kin of LTTE Blast Victims Seek Justice for Their Pain
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S Abbas was just 10 years old when his widowed mother S Samdhani Begum left for a meeting at Sriperumbudur to see the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Though Abbas' older brother requested her not to travel, his mother said, as if by premonition, that she would be honoured to 'even die at Gandhi's meeting.'

Begum returned home in a body bag.

Like Abbas, 16 families in Tami Nadu lost their loved ones when Gandhi was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber at an election meeting held in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur in 1991.

On 18 May, the Supreme Court invoked powers under Article 142 of the Constitution and ordered the release of AG Perarivalan alias Arivu. Perarivalan was charged with procuring batteries for the bomb used in Gandhi's assassination.


Kin Share Grief, Condemn Perarivalan's Release

While many across Tamil Nadu celebrated the release of AG Perarivalan, the families of those who were killed in the blast blamed the state government “for siding with criminals.”

S Abbas lost his widowed mother S Samdhani Begum, when he was 10 years old.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

“We don't understand how Perarivalan can be released on humanitarian grounds. The Supreme Court had termed them criminals several years ago and given them punishment; and now the same court is blaming the Governor for delay in forwarding the mercy plea and granting him freedom.”
S Abbas

In Perarivalan's case, different courts of law had acknowledged that it has not been ascertained whether he knew that he had procured the batteries for the blast. His intent was not entirely clear in the case.

League Mohan, the son of League Munusamy – a former Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) member of Legislative Council (MLC) who died in the blast along with Rajiv Gandhi recollected the fateful day when his family was called to the Sriperumbudur General Hospital to identify the bodies.

League Munusamy— a former TNCC Member of Legislative Council (MLC) who died in the blast along with Rajiv Gandhi.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

“I was 42 years old and we had to struggle to earn money. I somehow managed to get my sisters married and even now we are reeling under the impact of the blast. And after all these years, we hear that a man guilty of murder is being pardoned because he studied and showed good conduct...What about our pain and loss?”
League Mohan

‘Why Couldn’t the Government Acknowledge Our Pain?'

Anasuya Earnest who was a sub-inspector back in 1991, still remembers the incident vividly. She was standing to the right of Gandhi that day, seconds before the LTTE suicide bomber set off the explosive. Though she survived the blast, she lost two fingers on her left hand, suffered severe burns all over her body, and was bedridden for weeks.

“What wrong did I do? What did those 18 others, who died in the blast, do to deserve this end? The law of our land has clearly failed because the ones who were responsible for the murder of an Indian Prime Minister have been set free. How is this justice?”
Anusuya Daisy Ernest, Retired Police Officer

Anasuya Earnest who was a sub-inspector back in 1991, survived the blast.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

She asked, “His mother wanted to release her son and make him a free man. So the Supreme Court granted that. So what can they do to breathe life into all those who died?”

Meanwhile, TNCC President K S Alagiri said that the Congress does not "want to criticise the judgment." He further added, "We want to affirm that they (the seven convicts) are murderers and not innocent."

The families had appealed to the state and Congress for years seeking monetary compensation and jobs, but they have not received any aid so far.

“We have not received any money, housing or jobs from the government. But the government and the court could have at least acknowledged our pain and expressed condolences? During such an important judgment no leader seemed to even remember us!”
League Mohan

Political Parties on Perarivalan Judgment

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday, 18 May, said the Supreme Court's verdict declaring AG Perarivalan a free man has firmly established the state government's right. “The verdict is a huge victory for the principles of federalism and state autonomy,” he said.

All major political parties in the state – including the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and opposition All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) – barring the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have in the past rallied for Perarivalan's cause.

Slamming the state for welcoming “a convict,” League Mohan asked, “They have a released a murderer today. Does this mean they are going to release all convicted murderers? Why did the chief minister have to take so much initiative?"

“Perarivalan is not innocent. The state is in cahoots with someone who is guilty of assassination. Politicians and media persons are focused on the mercy plea and have forgotten about all the others whose lives have been completely shattered since the blast.”
League Mohan

On the release of the other six convicts – Murugan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Jayachandran, and Nalini – the government will hold discussions with legal experts, after going through the judgment in Perarivalan's case, Chief Minister Stalin said.

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