INSIDE STORY: Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and the Special Investigation Team ( Part 2 )

| by L.Annadoure

( February 02, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Head of Special Investigation Team, Mr.Karthikeyan would thank a top official in Tamil Nadu Forensic Science Laboratory for having sent the sealed negatives to Hindu News paper on the next morning and this is what he had stated in his book, ‘ there were a total of ten pictures. Yet the next morning a major part of the first of these ten photographs found its way to the Hindu front page, thanks to the top official at TNFSL’.

Can a high ranking officer like Mr.D.R.Kartikeyan be heard to say that the sealed negatives found their way to Hindu Newspaper? it is not so simple a matter that could be brushed aside and not taken note of . At any stretch of imagination, the pilferage of vital document cannot tend to be a matter for thanks giving. When a top official was said to have passed on such vital and only documentary evidence to the Hindu News paper then such an official, what ever his rank be or whatever position he happened to occupy, should not be pardoned and he should be punished in accordance with the provisions of law and it is a serious matter of divulging a secret which would have its ramification on and over investigation of the case. Mr.D.R. Karthikeyan had not chosen to reveal the name of the top official who had the audacity in giving away the material evidence to a third party and this aspect needs to be probed deeper. The vital and only documentary evidence should have passed hands only on some considerations and the nature of such a consideration has to be investigated.

It is also relevant to see what the Chief Investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman has got to say in respect of ‘one Chinon camera which was collected from the scene of crime. He would state that ‘there was nothing inside which would be any benefit’. He would continue to state the following words in his book, ‘Since there was no facility to take prints at Sripermpadur it was taken to Sunguvar Chatram where too there was no facility for taking prints. It was being said that it was taken to Chennai’
Therefore the statement that the police photographer had taken the film canister to a local studio where exposed frames were cut and packed was highly false. Here, both the Head of the Special Investigation officer and the Chief investigating officer were speaking only hearsay in their books and therefore they were not competent to speak anything pertaining possession of the camera, cutting of the exposed film as though such events had happened in their presence and in the course of their investigation.
The picture appeared in by Hindu Newspaper‘ showed the bespectacled salvar kameez clad woman holding the sandal wood garland, flanked by party functionary Latha Kannan and her daughter Kokila Vani. The Kurta Pyjama clad man’s portion in the photograph had been edited out and Dr.D.R.Karthikeyan had hastened to furnish reason for such editing. He was precluded from defending Hindu News Paper and he was incompetent to give reason for such editing and had he been fair enough he ought to have initiated appropriate legal action against the top official who had pilfered the negatives which was said to have been kept sealed.
The Chief Investigation officer Mr.K.Ragothaman himself would state that ‘ in the subsequent days that followed, the photograph which was destined to became famous would bring to mind a person clad in white Kurta pyjama. But there was not the white Kurta Pyjama clad person figuring in that photo which came to be published in the news paper. The person who was clad in white Kurta pyjama and who was standing a little away from the three women was removed.’
Pertaining the kurta pyjama clad person whose picture was not there in the photograph published by Hindu News paper, that kurta pyjama clad person need necessarily not be the persons whose photographs are given below. A cursory glance at the photographs indicate that they are not identical and one and same persons. The face of the person in the first photograph is elongated and his right ear lobe is protruding side ways and the left ear lobe is standing straight and the nose is also elongated ; the face of the person figuring in the 2nd photograph is short and further both the ear lobes are not prominent; his nose is shorter than the nose of the person appearing in the first photograph and the portion below the lips of both the persons found in the first two photographs do vary and in fact there are slight bulging on either side of the lips of the person appearing in the 2nd photograph. As for their eyes, left eye of the person on the first photograph appear to have been closed completely and right eye of the person figuring in the 2nd photograph is just squinting. In respect of the person appearing in the 3rd photograph his nose is stubby and the nostrils lifted a bit and they could be seen clearly. When the three photographs viewed from below their lip portion will definitely enable one to conclude that the persons appearing below are three different persons.
The picture of the dead person given below was said to be Sivarasan who was the master mind behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The person appearing there is definitely yet another person. It is said that Sivarasan had two alias Raguvaran and Pachiyachandran.
Now it is to be seen who was the person who had given the material for establishing the identity of Sivarasan alias Raghuvaran alias Packiachandran. D.R.Karthikeyan in his book ‘Rajiv Gandhi Assassination’ had categorically stated that the materials were supplied by Sri Lankan Government and the groups hostile to LTTE.
The following statements contained in his book would vouch for such a venture.
‘From our intelligence agencies, we had two names of LTTE hit men David , Raghuvarman, who were suspected of having led the assault on Padmanabha and his EPRLF comrades in June 1990. But we did not have their photographs. And without photographs names were not much use.’( page 39)
‘The features of the suspected assassin and the modus operandi did point to some link with LTTE and Colombo assured all help. At least a check could be made whether there were chances of the photographs of the suspected assassin and kurta pyjama clad man being identified of Tamil groups based in Colombo and hostile to the LTTE.( page 34)
In a book written by one Meena Agarwal under the caption ‘Rajiv Gandhi’ there was mention of statements made by Mr.D.R.Kartthikeyan and the following is his statement, “We Were able to collect many proofs from Sri lanka and other countries due to the ‘letter rogatories’ that had been issued by the Special Court of Chennai. From the proofs that we had been able to collect from Sri Lanka, we were able to confirm the identities of the many of the accused, which included Sivarassan, Murugan, Senthithiraraja, Kanak Sabapathi.”( page 118)
The Chief investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman himself would state that there was an unexposed roll of film in the camera which came into their hands and that the exposed films were separately cut out and sent away for taking prints.
The Chief investigation officer Mr.K.Ragothaman who in his book written in Tamil under the name ‘Rajiv Assassination case – Time to unravel the mystery which was published in the month of November 2009 by Kizhakku Pathippagam, Chennai had stated that ‘on the 24th May the case into the hands of CBI. In the after noon of 24th May the team had registered a new case. But on the 23rd night the roll of film had reached the Hindu News paper, after taking prints of the films they were published in the 24th May issue of Hindu News paper.’
There is no knowing as to whether the cut film which was said to have been developed at TNFSL and which was kept sealed that was given to the Hindu News paper or the entirety of roll of colour film was given away as has been stated by him and the Chief Investigating officer had stated that he felt a profound shock and consternation and he would continue to state as to how the film first went to Hindu News paper before it reached the Special Investigation Team. The secret behind all these needs to be revealed by Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan to the people who have right to know the culprits who were privy to and behind the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi and the very trend of investigation in itself appear to be another conspiracy to shield the real conspirators and the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi.
Both the Head of the Special Investigation officer Mr.D.R. Karthikeyan and the Chief Investigating Mr.K.Ragothaman did speak in unison of the dubious nature of the photographs and that was why the Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan would state that ‘the photographs published by the Hindu Newspaper before we or the crime Branch had access to the photographs, and even before the CBI registered the case, did create some consternation among the investigators’.
The Chief Investigating officer at page No.124 of his book had stated that the 10 photographs which were taken by Haribabu was the only vital evidence and that the very investigation was started on the basis of said photographic evidence and that he had been thinking of the mystery behind the pictures having gone to the office of Hindu News and their subsequent return and he had posed such questions like ‘how it came to pass that the pictures had reached the office of Hindu News paper ? Whether any enquiry was done in this respect and what was the punishment given to the offenders? He also had felt disheartened to note that such a mistake was suppressed and forgotten in the furore.
The Chief Investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman had continued to state that ‘on the same night 21.5.1991, a police constable had found the camera and it was given to Forensic Science unit which in turn had given it to Forensic Science Expert Dr.Chandrasekaran’.
The Chief Investigating officer had further opined that ‘it was well known to the people in the Department as to the existence of close nexus or connection between Dr.Chandrasekaran and Hindu News paper office. Dr.Chandrasekar had reached Sriperumbadur in the car belonging to the press reporter attached to Hindu Newspaper. After getting the roll of film he had directly gone to the office of Hindu News paper where photographic prints were taken out of the film and only then it had been entrusted to CB CID.
The Chief investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman would say that the 10 historically important photographs among others which were taken by Haribabu had initially went to Hindu Newspaper and later they were printed by CB-CID and the photographs had been distributed to them and in such a photograph, they say that, they had seen the picture of Kurta pyjama clad person in a corner.
The Chief investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman would state that it was being said at Sriperumpadur that the colour roll of film which was removed from the camera was entrusted to Dr.P.Chandrasekar who had taken it away for taking prints.
The Chief Investigating officer was speaking of ten photographs said to have been taken by Haribabu and he had informed nothing about the 6 other photos said to have been taken by a photographer who accompanied a music troupe and it would be relevant if what Mr.D.R .Karthikeyan said is reproduced, “these ten photographs and six others taken by a photographer who had accompanied Shankar Ganesh music troupe were the only ones which were taken before the assassination; they were, therefore important from the investigators’ point of view to find out whether some accomplice of the assassin were present at the scene.
We have seen the checkered carrier of the alleged the colour film. As could be seen from what had transpired thus far, the still photographs were the only documentary evidence available to fix the identity of the conspirators who were instrumental in assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. But the Head of Special Investigating team D.R. Karthikeyan would admit of there being of two separate videographers taking videos from the time the rally began.
Although the video cassettes were taken possession of they were not produced before court nor the contents were not analyzed for the only reason that the evidence contained in the video cassettes would destine to shatter their preconceived, biased and prejudiced approach and the video cassettes had been secreted away for the reasons best known to the Special Investigating team. Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan would maintain that the contents in the video cassettes had been accidently erased.
The Director of Tamil Nadu Forensic Science laboratory and CB- CID were at the scene of crime on the very night of bomb blast salvaging for material evidence and the alleged camera was said to have been collected by Inspector General of Police and the Video cassettes should have been collected in the manner and both the cassettes found their way to Intelligence Bureau, New Delhi as the alleged roll of film first went into the hands of Hindu News paper.
The Chief Investigating officer in chapter 30 of his book speaks in detail, ‘The then Chief of Intelligence Bureau Mr.M.K.Narayanan had filed several documents before the Justice Verma Commission and one among the documents was a letter written by M.K.Narayanan to Prime Minister of India informing him that he had laid his hands on a video cassette purporting to be video recorded at Sriperumbadur and that he was working on it and that he would soon reveal the result. The Head of Intelligence of Bureau had not submitted the said video cassettes before the Justice Verma Commission and as a Chief investigating office he was very sure about it. If such a video cassette were to have been with the Team than it would have helped him a lot and no such video cassette ever did come to him. When he began the investigation there were no other material except the photographs taken by Haribabu and the team was groping in the dark and had the video cassettes been given to him it would have thrown some ray of light. Sivarasan and his team roaming about the rally ground and the persons with whom he was talking to would have been recorded in video cassette and the evidence as such would have immensely helped the team. From the investigation he came to know that Thanu along with Latha Kannan first went to speak with Latha priyakumar who had obtained the permission to garland and perhaps the video cassette would have provided and formed vital evidence as certain as the Nelli fruit in the palm. The Intelligence Bureau had suppressed the evidence in order to protect the family members of Maragatham Chandrasekar and by doing so it appeared like hiding a whole Bumpkin in a marsel of food.
The Chief Investigating Officer Mr.K.Ragothaman was making belatedly complaint or rather accusation against the Head of Special Investigation Team Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan alleging although he had sought permission to examine some certain persons it was declined.
Reverting to kurta pyjama clad person, the emigration Authorities had detained a Sri Lankan kurta pyjama clad person twice at the Air port, Chennai and it was only Mr.D.R.Kathikeyan who had readily hastened to release that man on those occasions and in fact there was no whisper about the particulars of that kurta pyjama clad person in his book. The identity of the enigmatical kurta pyjama clad person was kept a secret all along.
The evidence collected by one of the investigating officers who while returning home was lost to him and how shoddy the nature of investigation was!
To sum up, it is very apparent from the forgoing discussions that the film canister with undeveloped roll of colour film in it which was first laid hold of by Hindu News paper had been purportedly tampered and tailored to suit the scheming designs of the conspirators in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and therefore the contents cannot be relied upon for any purpose whatsoever inclusive of as photographic evidence before court and had the photographs already been marked in evidence and relied on by court for delivering the judgment then such a judgment necessarily needs a revision. Therefore the plea of the death convicts deserves to be heard. We have seen only a snippet of how careful the Special Investigating Team was in putting together different pieces to make a clear picture of the conspiracy and the roles of the all conspirators were brought to light!

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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