'A doubt does arise regarding Chandraswami's complicity and involvement'
Vol 2 | Issue 44
Is it fair to hang Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, when the MDMA formed to probe the larger conspiracy in Rajiv’s assassination is yet to submit its report, argues Thirumurugan Gandhi in a two-part article in The Weekend Leader. You can read the first part of this article here.
The Justice Verma Commission, which inquired into the lapses in Rajiv Gandhi’s security, strongly condemned the security and intelligence wings of both the Central and State governments for the serious lapses in the security provided to the former Prime Minister.
The buzz at that time was that some of the top intelligence officials had been aware about the plot to kill Rajiv, but for some reason had failed to act on the information.
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination cut short the life of a leader who was on the verge of steering his party back to power in the Centre (Photo courtesy: Nakkheeran)
What is the truth? Did any of the officials have specific intelligence about the plot to assassinate Rajiv?
The truth may never be known, but it is a fact that some of the officials never extended their full cooperation to the Verma Commission.
For instance, the then director of Intelligence Bureau, M K Narayanan, denied he was present at a meeting organized by the home secretary Bhargava in 1991, soon after the Lok Sabha polls were announced. The meeting reportedly discussed Rajiv’s security details.
The then assistant home secretary N K Singh told the Verma Commission that Narayanan was aware of the details of Rajiv‘s security, which he claimed was discussed at the meeting organized by Bhargava. But Narayanan had denied he was present at the meeting.
When Verma Commission asked Narayanan to give in writing that he was not present at the meeting, he declined to do so. Why?
Both the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and Narayanan appeared to be hesitant to submit the original video that showed the final moments before the blast to the Verma Commission.
The SIT maintained that the said video was being investigated by international experts to see if it had been tampered with. Even in the last sitting of the commission, Justice Verma wanted to see the video, but SIT chief Karthikeyan told him that it was still with the foreign experts,
However, Verma saw the video later and in his report made it a point to raise the question why the last few seconds of the video alone was blurred. Had the video been tampered with?
There’s one piece of information on Narayanan that may not be directly relevant to the subject under discussion, but nevertheless reveals some interesting information about Narayanan, who later became the National Security Advisor.
Writing about Narayanan some time ago in South Asian Analysis Group, B Raman, a well-known security expert and former additional secretary, cabinet secretariat, Government of India, observed:
“I had often seen sections of the media writing that he (Narayanan) owed his appointment as the National Security Adviser to his contacts with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
“I never believed such stories. MK (Narayanan) has never been known to curry favour with political leaders in order to secure an official position.
“He was a great networker and maintained excellent relations with many people on both sides of the political spectrum. He got along as famously with V.P.Singh and Chandrasekhar as he did with Rajiv Gandhi.
“He got along as famously with Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani as he did with Narasimha Rao.”
Moving on from Narayanan, there is also another piece of information that gives credence to the belief that some intelligence officials may have been aware of the plot to assassinate Rajiv.
On 20 May 1991, a day before Rajiv’s assassination, the then Joint Director of IB wrote a letter to the police chiefs in all States requesting them to increase the security provided to Rajiv. Did he know that the assassins were closing in on Rajiv?
Justice Jain Commission
Justice Jain, who probed the broader conspiracy in Rajiv’s assassination, made damning references to Chandraswami and Subramanian Swamy, which are still being talked about.
The Jain Commission Report, referring to Chandraswami, stated that based on “the entire evidence, material and circumstances brought on record into consideration, a doubt does arise regarding Shri Chandraswami's complicity and involvement."
On Subramnian Swamy, the Report states: "It would appear that a consistent and persistent effort is there on his part not to answer the questions which are most relevant in order to find out the truth."
Following the submission of the Jain Commission Report, the BJP government formed the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) in 1998 to probe these issues. The MDMA is yet to complete its investigations.
Is it fair to hang the three, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, when so many questions remain unanswered in the Rajiv assassination case?
Thirumurugan Gandhi is a human rights activist and organiser of May 17 Movement in Chennai