The historic heritage building housing the oldest court in India, the Madras high court, erupted in celebrations a few minutes before a two member bench stayed execution of the three death row convicts for eight weeks on Tuesday morning.
Word had reached from state assembly that it had passed a resolution seeking clemency for the three convicts facing the gallows. Already upbeat, as if it was a good omen, activists and supporters were making deafening noise as their slogans were all one could hear inside the high court premises, and even outside on the road.
If the assembly resolution asking the President to review clemency petition was greeted with a round of crackers, which soon rose to deafening proportions the moment the signal came -- just about after 40 minutes of arguments inside the courtroom -- a young man raising both his hands in a victory sign from the first floor balcony -- that sent the crowd berserk with joy.
Similar celebrations were held at almost every congregation of people protesting the hanging and seeking to save the trio in cities, towns and villages across the state. In Chennai, the mood was festive in Koyambedu, where three women lawyers were sitting on an indefinite fast.
"Vazgah, vazgah (Long live Tamils) our blood is that of Perarivalan's blood", rent the air as jubilant protesters and activists congratulated one another. Slogans praising Ram Jethmalani too were heard as he was spotted along with Vaiko. The overall mood and sentiment at the court premises as also at different venues where people congregated to track this event was "death to death sentence" as one of the slogans printed on a placard said.
Arputhammal, mother of Perarivalan, told the battery of television channels that all three were innocent. "I had lost hope of seeing my son alive, but today's court decision as also assembly resolution has given me new hope. I am thankful to the judiciary, the assembly and above all, all the people who came to support my innocent son," she said to lusty cheers from the crowded gathering.
"The high court decision as also the state assembly resolution have restored our faith and now innocent people would be saved," said N Selvaraj, a young member of a pro-Tamil group who was camping at the court premises since morning. His other colleagues expressed happiness over the court order asking the center to explain the inordinate delay in processing mercy petition by the president.
The crowd went absolutely wild when Ram Jethmalani walked out along with Vaiko. Jethmalani had to shout at the top of his voice to be heard. "Vaiko has brought me here, so you should thank Vaiko for bringing me here. Also thank the high court."
Vaiko, who had filed the review petition on behalf of Perarivalan and was his advocate on record, said, "We are grateful to the high court, Ram Jethmalani and the judiciary."
After they left, the crowd erupted into wild celebrations and much slogan shouting. Amid the din one could hear a group of youngsters raising slogans in praise of LTTE chief Prabhakaran too. From the out gate of the high court, a procession of lawyers and advocates marched through the premises demanding the release of the three -- Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan.