I read a few notes online recently, written by AG Perarivalan. If you don’t know Perarivalan, he is a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, currently an inmate at Vellore prison, awaiting his turn to go to the gallows. In these notes, Perarivalan tries his best to prove his innocence by explaining how he was handled when put behind the bars. He says he was not allowed the rights even a convict is allowed to have elsewhere. I strongly decry this treatment by our police and want to see justice done in the end. If Perarivalan and co. are innocent, they should go scot free. Else they should be hanged until the last breath leaves them.
The writings of this man, who was just 19 when he was caught, amazed me. The impact of the words is so strong that you will inadvertently choose to be on his side. But I am miffed with a few things about Perarivalan. First of all, the usage of the word Tamilian in his writings and the support that he draws from Tamil Nadu, all for the same word. I wonder why Tamil sentiments are being exploited in this issue. A convict is a convict, not a Tamilian or a Malayali. It is high time we threw away our views biased by religion and region. For me, Rajiv Gandhi does not mean much. But there is no denying the fact that he was an elected Indian prime minister. Our blood boiled when we heard the hanging of Saddam Hussein, who was the chief of his own country. The same “we” do not seem to be one when it is a matter concerning our land. We can’t be this frivolous. On the one hand we demand the hanging of Afzal Guru and on the other hand we want to protect Perarivalan, Murugan, and Santhan. I believe 90% of those who support or oppose do not know the facts. They just go by what their mind says. Perarivalan has good knowledge of the laws applicable in his case and is well read on topics that help regain focus and confidence. It is confounding to note that a man who had the liberty to read and write in jail could not sound off about his innocence all these years. Now that the mercy petition is rejected by the Indian President, maybe they (including the forces behind, if any) are using online campaigns as a last recourse.
In the writings published online, there is no real intent by Perarivalan to prove his innocence by reason. He gives anecdotes of the treatment he got after he was taken into custody. He does not seem to give an account of his relationship or ‘no-relationship’ with the other convicts. But there is an intentional attempt to say that all of the convicts are clean-handed. From what I understood, the demand of the advocates of the convicts was to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Life imprisonment does not, in any way, mean that the person is innocent. There is another view that 20 years is a long time for a person to be in clink, and that it is not fair to terminate the person’s life after giving him only trouble for those two decades. So, in all likeliness, 17 years down the road, there will be more people to run an online campaign to save Ajmal Kasab from the gibbet. Truth should prevail, in Perarivalan’s case, and everyone else’s.