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'People at the helm are protecting Rajiv murder accused'

October 31, 2012 15:38 IST

Former Central Bureau of Investigation's former chief investigating officer K Ragothaman has claimed in a recently published book -- Conspiracy to kill Rajiv: From CBI files – that a lot of facts pertaining to the former prime minister's assassination were either suppressed, or were studiously ignored.

Ragothamam writes that there were attempts made to protect the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from being called the conspirators behind Rajiv's killing. In this interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Ragothaman speaks about the conspiracy and the hurdles that were faced in a probe in which many aspects were hushed up.

How has your book been received?

That is too early to tell. It is just out, but is under debate. Let us wait and watch.

You write that Dravida Munetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi's scheduled public meeting in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, the day Rajiv was killed, was abruptly cancelled.

 Karunanidhi was to address a meeting at 6'O clock that evening, two hours before Rajiv's meeting. The police had made all arrangements. Then there was a telegram from the Anna Arivalyam postal office jurisdiction that the meeting was cancelled.

I probed the sender of that telegram. I was told to ask Karunanidhi about the same. However, I could not investigate him directly. Later, I was told by my superiors that the matter was being looked into, and I should remain quiet.

I was also told that it was a director general of police, Rangaswamy, who had advised that the meeting be cancelled. However, when I looked at the Rangaswamy affidavit, it read that he had ordered as much police force as possible in view of this meeting.

I also attended the Jain commission inquiry in which Karunanidhi was examined. He had said then that it was the then governor, Bhishma Narayan Singh, who had told him to cancel the meeting. Look at the contradictions.

Who according to you was the one who advised cancellation of the Karunanidhi meeting?

Probably it was Marumalarchi Dravida Munetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko who telephoned and sought cancellation of the meeting. The telephone records needed to be examined, but it was never done.

Why do you think Vaiko tried to stop Karunanidhi?

After Rajiv's assassination, many DMK workers were attacked, their offices burnt. If Karunanidhi had gone there, he would have been in trouble and there would have been an onslaught. Hence, they were trying to protect him.

Does this mean even Karunanidhi was part of the plot?

No, that is not what I meant. Karunanidhi is not a killer. He wanted a democratic solution to the problem and this was never liked by slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran.

You accuse Vaiko of having a hand in this entire issue.

Vaiko was the one who spoke vehemently against the Indo-Jaffna accord. Vaiko said at that time he was first an LTTE, then a Tamilian and then an Indian. At the time of the accord, Prabhakaran was brought down to New Delhi and was put up at the Hotel Ashoka.

Vaiko sought to meet him, but he was not allowed to do so. He conversed with Prabhakaran on the intercom, during which the latter told him, "Anna, this Rajiv has betrayed me. I feel like committing suicide as he is sealing my fate. But I cannot kill myself as I need to fight for my people."

Vaiko wrote a book later in which he mentions that Prabakaran had thought of committing suicide.

Tell us more, sir…

When Vaiko had gone to Sri Lanka, we had secured a videotape titled Inside a Tiger's Cave which has him on tape. There he spoke everything that was anti-Rajiv. It appeared that he was more against Rajiv than Prabakaran himself. This was also a point noted during our investigation.

Then there is also a meeting in which Vaiko says that Rajiv won't go back alive from Tamil Nadu. He, however, retracted that statement. During the investigation, we questioned one Chinna who is on death row.

He said that in one of the hideouts, Sivarasan (the prime accused in the assassination) held talks with one Srinivas Ayya and said that after the successful completion of the mission, they should ensure that Vaiko becomes the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Why was the evidence not used then?

This is a question that I have been asking. We had so much evidence, but surprisingly Vaiko was roped in as prosecution witness number 250 in the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities court.

During the trial, he denied speaking all of which was on video with Prabhakaran. The video was played out. He claimed that it was him in the video but the voice was not his. It was sent for examination and the voice too was confirmed, but till date there is no perjury case against him.

You have alleged that even the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing tried to cover up LTTE's role?

After the assassination, Chandrashekhar, the then prime minister, convened a meeting in which even Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy (then minister of commerce and industry) was present. The then IB chief, MK Narayanan, and RAW boss, GS Bajpai, were also present.

Swamy said that it was obvious that the LTTE was responsible. Bajpai retorted that it was not the LTTE. The meeting was adjourned. Meanwhile, the CBI director had gone to Colombo for the investigation.

They were called back and rushed to Delhi for the meeting. During the meeting, it was again asked why a trip was made to Colombo and did that mean it was preconceived that it was the LTTE which was behind the assassination.

Bajpai once again opposed this. He even quoted one Kittu to be his source. Kittu, incidentally, was Prabhakaran's right hand man. An LTTE man could never have been a RAW mole and even Dr Swamy had termed this as absurd.

What are your allegations against Narayanan?

A video taken at the meeting on that ill-fated day in which there were images of Dhanu was never made available to the CBI. The assassination team was waiting for nearly two hours in a sterile area. The original video reached Narayanan.

The government had decided to conduct an investigation in this regard and this case was registered with the Special Investigating Team and the CBI. However, it was buried. My question is, why no action has been taken for suppressing evidence.

It was being said that Dhanu had barged into the meeting, but this video clearly shows that they were waiting for a long time. We probed this case risking our own lives and it does upset me that people sitting at the helm of affairs are protecting the accused.

Do you think the loopholes will be rectified now?

Let us see.

Vicky Nanjappa