Inside Story: Rajiv Gandhi Assassination and Special Investigation Team – Part IV

| by L.Annadoure
( November 04, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Special Investigation Team which had been constituted to investigate into the Assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi had comprised in it Mr.DR Karthikeyan  who was  Inspector General of Police/Joint Director  of Criminal Bureau of Investigation and the  Chief of the Special Investigation Team, 5 Inspectors General of  Police, 8 Superintendants of Police from Criminal Bureau of Investigation,14 Deputy Superintends of Police and 44 Inspectors of Police.
 Previous Parts:

The Chief Investigating officer was one of the Superintendents of police Mr.K.Ragothaman who has written a book in Tamil under the caption “Rajiv Gandhi Kolai Vazhaku” in November 2009 which has been published by Kizhakku Pathippagam, Chennai. The Chief Investigating officer who, at page No.205 in Chapter 30-‘May Speak Henceforth’,  pours forth the distress, a sense of contrition and feelings of remorsefulness  for the deliberate failure on the part of the chief of Intelligence Bureau Mr.M.K.Naraynanan in  returning the video cassette with which the videographer  was video graphing the sequence of events  in the course of the political rally at the place at Sriperumpudur  some time  before the incident of bomb blast. But the question is whether such belated spurt of feelings was genuine or spurious or it was a an act of pretence of excuse for some act of failure on the part of the Special Investigation Team in general or knowingly had the Chief Investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman been privy to things which he ought not to have done but he had done much against his Will and conscience and contrary to principles of justice has to be  assessed a fresh in the light of a Television programme telecast in Times Now TV at 9.PM on 30.10.2012.
 The Chief Investigating officer has written a book in English under the caption “Conspiracy To Kill Rajiv Gandhi – From CBI Files” which  has came to be published  recently and according to the view of the presenter of the programme  it is a shocking revelation that there was a video cassette  pertaining the visuals of  the events culminating in the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi and the stunning claim on the part of the Chief Investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman is that the said video Cassette had not been returned to the  Special Investigation Team  to facilitate the investigation.
 Some of the passages found especially in  chapter 30-‘May Speak Henceforth’ in “Rajiv Gandhi Kolai Vazhaku” which are to be considered  as earlier statements  made by Mr.Ragothaman may help us in understanding the realities inherent in the assassination case and here are  some passages rendered in English for perusal,
  It may be remembered that two Commission were appointed to enquire into the Assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. First one was Justice J.S.Verma Commission and second one was Justice M.C.Jain Commission.
When J.S.Justice Verma Commission was appointed it was being said that the commission  was going to enquire into firstly of  the security lapses and then the conspiracy entered into amongst the conspirators  to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. But Justice J.S.Verma had evinced his difficulty and inability in taking up the issue of conspiracy at first instance. The reason for his reluctance was  investigation  was going on then. He said he could not go into the question of conspiracy until the investigation was over and done with.
Therefore the Government order was redirected to Justice J.S.Verma Commission after revision so as to enable it to enquire into security lapses and shortcomings  which led to the assassination of Shri .Rajiv Gandhi. Accordingly Justice J.S.Verma Commission began to enquire into security lapses and shortcomings  which led to the assassination of Shri .Rajiv Gandhi.
From the Director of CBI on wards several persons had testified before these two Commissions. Several important documents had been filed in evidence. Among the documents was a letter which was written by the Chief of Intelligence Bureau Mr.M.K.Naraynan to the then the Prime Minister of India.
In that letter Mr.M.K.Naraynan wrote to say that he was in receipt of a video cassette . The Video cassette containing the visuals taken on that day was being  analysed and that he would soon inform about it.
But even after the completion of enquiry by Justice J.S.Verma Commission  and completion of the investigation by CBI, the Intelligence Bureau had not released any such video cassette. As the Chief Investigating officer I was quite sure about it. If such a video cassette were to have been in the hands of Intelligence Bureau and if that happened to be an important piece of documentary evidence facilitating investigation then it ought to have been returned  to us.
Even at the fag end of investigation the video cassette had  not been forthcoming .  Imagine for a moment. At the start of the investigation we had not any other basis to proceed with except the photos taken by Hari Babu. We had been groping in the dark. Had the Chief of Intelligence Bureau given us the video cassette then it might have thrown  rays of light!
On that night , from 7o’clock till 10 o’clock , Sivarasan and his team were loitering here and there over the  public meeting ground. Had such visuals depicting as to who were all there at the place and who were all talking to whom found recorded in the video cassette then it would have greatly helped in  starting the investigation!
It revealed from our investigation that Dhanu along with Latha Kannan had approached and talked to Latha Priya Kumar and through her permission for garlanding was obtained. The information as such which we obtained in the course of our investigation  would have been confirmed  by the Video cassette   as definitely as a Nelli fruit lying in the centre of palm of hand ? The matters like who were the persons with whom Sivarasan and others were talking to and how permission was given them, the video cassette would have revealed and pointed out.
But, thinking that if CBI were to lay its hands on the video cassette then Mrs.Maragatham Chandrasekar and her family members would find themselves in trouble, the Intelligence Bureau had hidden it like hiding a whole pumpkin within a few morsel of cooked rice. 
   
 After the completion of Justice J.S.Verma Commission enquiry, with  reporting to Indian Government  that security arrangements were very poor  and  that the performance of CBI was worse then  a case against the CBI officers was ordered to be registered as per law.
In 1995, the Government has entrusted the case for investigation  to the Special Investigation Team of CBI. Earlier, enquiry had been instituted against Tamil Nadu Police for security lapses and failures and  actions  had been taken  against some police officers.
With orders directing initiation of an enquiry against the CBI officers , the case was entrusted to CBI itself and the case was entrusted in the hands of  Superintendant of Police ranked officer.( Normally enquiry would be made by officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendant of Police).
Nevertheless, there was no knowing as to what became of the enquiry, who were all the persons who were examined, the decision taken, the result of the enquiry and whether it was sent to government. To be said forthright, it is very doubtful whether the case diaries would be available this day!
If the enquiry were to have been conducted in a fair and proper manner then the answers to questions like the areas where the CBI officers had erred and had failed in their duties and why not even a wisp of information was not known to CBI well in advance, would have been obtained.
But, as though born to save, the hierarchy of officers beginning from Mr.M.K.Naraynan  who were in the Intelligence Bureau, the Chief of Special Investigation Team had acted thus and covered it up. By doing so some individuals would have been protected. What a great blemish on the Nation?
Although the chapter 30 continues further, owing to brevity it may be stopped at this stage and then we may revert to the debate as such telecast by Times Now.TV. The participants  in the debate are the Chief Investigation officer of Special Investigation Team Mr.D.R.Kathikeyan  and the Chief Investigating officer of Special Investigation Team K.Ragothaman who has published a new book in English “Conspiracy To Kill Rajiv Gandhi – From CBI Files”. According to the presenter of the programme the cover up has come into the public domain and it has created a sensation.
 The crux of the debate is as follows. The questions posed by the presenter is that the matter as such is very a sensitive subject, after having investigated the case how Mr.K.Ragothaman himself could level an extremely sensational charges against Mr.DR Karthikeyan  like there  being a video cassette which had  been tampered, edited manipulated,  its existence and availability was suppressed  from being presented for facilitating the investigation and that Mr.DR Karthikeyan  had  allowed then Chief  of Intelligence Bureau to get away with suppressing evidence and that whether Mr.K.Ragothaman  is sure about the accusation  he is making or he is shooting in the dark .
The answers given by Mr.K.Ragthaman are that he had been the chief investigating officer and two video cassettes were there which had covered Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case. Mrs.Maragatham Chandarasekar, Congress politician had engaged a videographer who was shooting the Shankar Ganesh  music performance and videoing at the site of the  movements of the people in and around the stage and the public site at Sriperumbudur and other videographer  who was engaged by the TNCC president late Mr.Vazhapadi Ramamurthy  was covering  the events of Shri Rajiv Gandhi from the moment he  had landed at Meenampakkam Air Port,  his participation in press interviews and group meetings and that thereafter  Mr.Vazhapadi Ramamurthy with the videographer had followed the convoy of Shri Rajiv Gandhi and the said Videographer had continued video graphing at the venue.  The Video cassette which was  in the possession of  Mr.Pazhapadai Ramamurthy was collected by the Special Investigation Team from his office and the Video cassette which was in the possession of the videographer engaged by Mrs.Maragatham Chandrasekaran was  not secured  by  CBI Special Investigation Team directly   but it was CB CID  which had secured  the video cassette at first and later said Video cassette along with the case records had been handed over to Special Investigation Team and that the Special Investigation Team  had played the video cassette and found to their chagrin  that it did not appear to be one taken spontaneously, for there were slip shots, music programme, some gaps to be found and what  impressed him most was at the end of  the cassette there was  Doordarshan news for the day 22ndMay 1991found recorded and Mr.K.Ragothaman has continued to answer questions further posed by the Presenter by stating that the Video cassette would certainly contain  the visuals of Latha Kannan, her daughter and Dhanu approaching Latha priya Kumar and talking to her and the videocassette which they happened to view was not the original and that Mr.M.K. Narayanan should have returned it to the Special Investigation Team  and  what the Team viewed was one that was edited manipulated and erased and the video cassette which was in the possession and custody of Mr.M.K.Naryanan  and which he was scanning to identify the assassin lady was the original and that was point of suppression according to Mr.K.Ragothaman ?    
 Then  the presenter  has posed  a question to Mr.DR Karthiyekan by stating that since the letter which Mr.M.K.Narayanan wrote to Prime Minister and copies marked to Home Secretary and others recited that the video cassette was being  scanned to identify the lady then he is bound to tell as to where the video cassette was?  The comprehensive reply made by Mr.DR.Karthikeyan to the accusation levelled by K.Ragothaman  are that there are no two sides in the matter and that Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case as such had been protracted for several years, the case was disposed of by the trial court, then the Appellate court  consisting  of  3 eminent justices of Supreme court had confirmed the judgment,  thousands of pages of matters had been written in newspapers and journals and  thousand hours of video were recorded and in his 21 years of remembrance he could not definitely answer the questions until he has read the book written by Mr.K.Ragothaman and as regards the video cassette  it was thoroughly discussed , two commissions of enquiry went for many years, trial before trial court went on for several years  and there were lot of politics in it, there is nothing new in that and not even an inch beyond what he had found and  as regards non accompaniment of local leaders with Shri Rajiv Gandhi like Mr.Moopanar, Mrs.Jayanthi Natarajan and Mr.Pazhapadi Ramamurthy he would justify their failure by stating that Shri Rajiv Gandhi used to walk very fast and that he did not want the local leaders to follow him and  even MDMA which in its 20 years of existence had not found anything, not even an inch beyond what  he had found and  he  has not liked the Media trial like the present one  and what ever video cassettes were available then were viewed and that if anything  further to be asked then Mr.K.Ragothaman might ask then  Director, Joint Directors of IB at Chennai and Interpol too had praised the investigation done by SIT as Model Investigation because  political assassinations hardly ever end in conviction.
The presenter has posed a critical question whether there was tampering of contents of video cassette, the visuals having been obliterated and whether somewhere in his  heart there still  lurks a belief that the contents of  the video tape was tampered, manipulated, erased and edited.  
Mr.DR. Karthigeyan’s  candid and forthright answer is that the ‘Video tape was hazy’ and everybody had entertained doubts and suspicions about it.
Before we proceed any further I would like to solicit the attention of readers to some passages in the Book ‘Triumph of Truth, The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination, The investigation’ which has been co authored by Mr.DR.Karthikeyan and another officer in the Special Investigation Team Mr.Radha Vinod Raju.
Page No.16,
‘Just moments ago, she had been seen with Latha Kannan; she  along with a photographer, known to other journalists and photographers as Haribabu’
‘Haribabufocused the Chinon camera that he had borrowed to cover this special event and took a picture of women’s enclosure.’
‘One party man, after presenting his shawl to Rajiv Gandhi, posed for a photograph all the while holding him with both arms!’
Page No.16, 3rdParagraph .
 Jostled and jolted by mob admirers around him, Rajiv Gandhi neared the stage. The videographers who were on the makeshift stage, because the only power socket in the venue were situated there, could hardly get clear coverage; with so many people crowding around Rajiv Gandhi and coming in the way, the videographers had no choice but to switch off the cameras.’
The readers’ indulgence is solicited to refer themselves to the earlier parts of the story published by “The Sri Lankan Guardian web site. We have seen that the photographs numbering 10 which were supplied by Hindu News paper were the only basis for starting the investigation in the case.
The Chief of Special Investigation Team Mr.DR.Karthikeyan would express his profound shock and feeling of consternation at the Hindu News paper having supplied the photographs and this is what he has say about it in the aforesaid book at page No.25.,  “The photographs published by The Hindu before we or Crime Branch registered the case, did create some consternation among the investigators.”
It was a fact that a photograph that of alleged photographer Haribabu was  supplied by Hindu News Paper and it was also a fact that before any one  could get a chance to see the corpse or even the investigators themselves could see the corpse of the person said to be that of  Haribabu was disposed of  in a mysterious and in a hurried manner and therefore the identity of the alleged photographer Haribabu was not established or proved beyond reasonable doubt.
As the passage quoted above  would give us amply to understand that no video graphing of sequence of the events at the site was done between 10.10 pm  and 10.20 pm on that fateful night. But the Special investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman would contend that two videographers were videoing the events which they had played for viewing and they had happened to see their contents and the videocassette which was secured from CB CID was found to be tampered, edited and erased.
The  power outlet which was atop the makeshift stage did not help the two other videographers who were there on the stage. Then there arise naturally the doubt as to how and from where the videographer who was brought by Mr.Pazhapadi Ramamurthy and the other videographer who was engaged by Mrs.Maragatham Chandrasekar did get electricity for their lights on the video cameras.
Apart from the four videographers who were said to have been there, there was also another photographer brought in by Musician Shankar Ganesh from whom Mr.DR.Karthikeyan was said to have procured six other photographs. The Special Investigating officer did not say anything about the six photo which were procured from the photographer brought in by Musician Shankar Ganesh. If the Video cassettes  and photographs  are  to be proved in evidence  the legal requirement is that  the videographers and photographers  must speak  about the videocassettes, photographs  and of their negatives in evidence and similarly the persons at whose instance the video graphs and photos  have been taken must give evidence and therefore it is highly doubtful whether legal requirements are fulfilled and complied with. Therefore the benefit of doubts which were apparent should have been given to the accused persons.
The letter which was written by Mr.M.K.Narayanan to the Prime Minister was indicative of doubtfulness as to the identity of the assassin which was yet to be established  by the Intelligence Bureau and no effort was taken to establish the identity of the assassin  and  it has already been pointed out as regards the doubts inherent as to the identity of assassin.
That Special Investigation Officer Mr.K.Ragothaman had failed to speak at first instance about the original video cassette which was in the possession and custody of Mr. M.K.Narayanan  who had not returned it, had been and  is equally guilty of complicity in suppression of evidence and in fact he had knowingly abetted the perpetration of such an offence in order to protect his higher officer and the Chief of Intelligence Bureau and therefore Mr.K.Ragothaman  should only be shedding crocodile tears now and has he been bono fide all along  he would have taken necessary legal steps against the offenders who ever they might have been or irrespective their station in life and the office they held and what purpose the writing of such a book will serve henceforth when the prime of life of the accused persons have been wasted in vain already? Praise be to Model Investigation! 
                                                                             To be continued. …
  Thanks to Times Now TV
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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