Reinvestigate Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
The time has come to order a fresh investigation into the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on 21 May, 1991.
The Special Investigation Team appointed by the government of India was headed by DR Karthikeyan who managed to round up 26 people, some not even remotely connected with the crime, got them all convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court under the notorious Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act though none was charged for any terrorist offence.
A protest in Tamil Nadu against the death sentence to the three death row convicts in the Rajiv assassination case
They were convicted under Section 302 IPC. The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence of only four, Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.
The only charge against Perarivalan, who was in his teens at the time of the crime, was that he purchased two nine-volt battery cells which, according to the SIT charge-sheet, were the ones used to trigger the human bomb that blew up Rajiv Gandhi.
Perarivalan admitted to his interrogators that he did buy two Golden Power battery cells but had no idea the purpose for which it was procured.
V Thiagarajan, the CBI SP who recorded Perarivalan’s statement, altered it by giving a spin that the battery cells were for making of the bomb.
Having retired from service, Thiagarajan now says, “The burden on my conscience was growing and forced me to break the silence and disclose the truth in the fervent hope of preventing miscarriage of justice.”
Of the 26 sentenced to death, the statements of 17, including Perarivalan’s, were recorded by Thiagarajan. Miscarriage of justice had already taken place and the four have been in jail for the last 22 years.
Asked why he did not come out with the truth earlier, professional compulsions did not permit him, said Thiagarajan. He is no longer a caged parrot.
Even the Supreme Court Judge KT Thomas, now retired, who presided over the Bench which confirmed the four death sentences, admits there was miscarriage of justice and does not want them hanged.
Nalini’s death sentence has been converted to life imprisonment at the request of Sonia Gandhi. The other three have been in death row awaiting the noose since 1999.
Immediately after the assassination, the Chandrasekhar government appointed the Justice JS Verma Commission of Inquiry. Its report submitted to the Union home ministry in June 1992 came out with some shocking revelations.
Equally shocking is the revelation during a recent hearing in an RTI application that the complete records pertaining to the Verma Commission could not be found.
Skeletons are tumbling one after another on the manner in which the Rajiv assassination case was investigated and disposed of.
The entire visit of Rajiv Gandhi to Sriperumbudur was video-taped by the Intelligence Bureau and handed over to MK Narayanan, then its chief.
On 22 May, 1991, Narayanan wrote a letter to Chandrasekhar stating the video of the meeting was being scanned to try and identify the lady (the assassin). The SIT was given an edited, doctored copy with interpolations. When it sought a copy of the original, Narayanan refused.
On the advice of then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, the CBI filed a case against Narayanan for suppressing crucial evidence in the sensitive assassination case. Nothing came of it.
Before the killing of Rajiv, the hit squad’s wireless communications with its handlers in Jaffna were intercepted by Army intelligence and passed on to Narayanan. He failed to take any preventive step. A hidden hand was protecting him all along.