Questions over Gandhi’s killing
by K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, 2002
When Rajiv Gandhi was murdered on May 21, 1991, he was 46 years old. He was born on August 20, l944 and brought up in the Nehru Gandhi family of freedom fighters, great leaders and statesmen. Indira Gandhi, the daughter of the first Indian Prime Minister, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, was married to Feroze Gandhi. Two years after the birth of Rajiv Gandhi, his father Feroze and mother Indira moved to Lucknow from Allahabad. Feroze assumed charge as managing director of the National Herald. Indira moved to Delhi in 1950, when Rajiv was six. Feroze, however, remained in Lucknow to 1ook after the National Herald. Rajiv was then enrolled in Welhams School in Dehra Dun. Thereafter, in 1955, he joined the prestigious Doon Schoo1. When he was 16 years old his father passed away.
In 1962, Rajiv left for Cambridge University in England and joined Trinity College. Thereafter, he studied at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. There he met Sonia Maino of Italy, and a nuptial knot was tied between the two in 1978.
From childhood, Rajiv Gandhi had an immense interest in technology and he had a passion for machines, and he developed a keen interest in aviation. He learned to fly during his holidays in England and in India. When he returned from England, he joined the Indian Airlines’ training course at Hyderabad, in December, 1967. Rajiv joined Indian Airlines officially, as an apprentice, on May 5, 1968, and captained RS-748 aircrafts. Finally, he obtained a Boeing Commander’s License, in 1980. He loved flying and was led a happy family life, as a commercial pilot.
Rajiv’s brother Sanjay, younger by two years, was already thick in politics and was a great help to Indira Gandhi, who was then Prime Minister. The family received a big shock with the sudden death of Sanjay in June 1980, in an air crash near Safdarjang airport, Delhi. Rajiv had no interest in politics, but the untimely death of Sanjay, pulled him into politics much against his wishes. There was considerable pressure exerted on him to join active politics. Rajiv Gandhi himself explained how circumstances forced him into politics:
“… I had no love for politics. I treasured the privacy of my happy family life. My mother respected both these sentiments. Then my brother Sanjay was killed in the prime of his life. It broke a mother’s heart. It did not break a Prime Minister’s will. Without even a day’s break of grief, she carried on her task single-minded in fulfilling her pledge to her people.
“There is a loneliness, that only a bereaved mother can know. She called to me in her loneliness. I went to her side. At her instance, I left my love for flying and joined her as a political aide. From her, I learnt my first political lessons. It was she who urged me to respond to the insistent demand from the constituency and the party to take my brother’s place as Member of Parliament for Amethi. With her blessings, I was made General Secretary of my party asking me to accept the challenge of stepping into her shoes. In accepting the challenge, I fulfilled a national duty and a filial duty: ‘the duty of a son to a mother’.”
Once he plunged into politics, he made a mark for himself. He contested the Lok Sabha election, in the Amethi constituency, in June 1981 and won by a thumping majority. He was sworn in as a MP, on August 17, 1981. He made his maiden speech, on March 11, 1982 and was appointed the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, on February 3, 1983. Four states were put under his charge – Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland. He was also given charge of managing the affairs of the Congress Sewa Dal and the Youth Congress. He played a pivotal role in starting the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.
Indira Gandhi fell by the bullets of her own security guards when she was on her way to give an interview on the morning of October 31, l984. The assassination sent shock waves all over the country. On that fateful day, Rajiv was far away from her in the interior of West Bengal, addressing political meetings. Tragedy overtook him, but he dashed to Delhi and the nation’s responsibility fell on his shoulders and he was sworn in as Prime Minister the same evening.
Soon after becoming premier, elections for the Lok Sabha were announced for December 1984. He won a landslide victory for the Congress Party, winning 401 seats out of 508 seats. In his capacity as Prime Minister, he signed the Punjab, Assam and Mizo accords and for the settlement of the Tamil ethnic crisis the Indo-Sri Lanka accord in July 1987.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, several reforms were brought about in administration, economy and technology in India. He also brought about judicial and electoral reforms by amendments to the constitution. The Panchayat Raj was introduced and the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years.
In the field of education, a new education policy was framed and the Indira Gandhi National Open University was established. His achievements in the international field were significant. He was a firm believer of total disarmament and presented an action plan before a special session on disarmament at the United Nations General Assembly in l988. He wanted to promote good neighborly relations and emergency help was sent to the Maldives government in 1988 to relieve it from the clutches of Sri Lankan Tamil militant mercenaries. He also directed his efforts to promote sustained and continued cooperation among the Members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
In Indo-China relations, a new phase was heralded by him, with his visit to China in 1988. He was a champion of human rights and was opposed to oppression and exploitation in India. According to him, apartheid was a blot on civilization. He wanted to see India as a great power by the beginning of the 21st century. lt may be that, he was not cut out for politics. Nevertheless, with his charismatic personality he won the hearts of his countrymen. His smiling face and his behavior and manners were appealing and could turn his foes into friends.
Though he lost power in December l989, when V P Singh became Prime Minister, he was on the crest of his popularity and seen to be destined to be Prime Minister after the June, 1991 general elections. He was so projected in the media. But in a split of a second, his life was snuffed out by the explosion of a human bomb, as he was about to address a public meeting at Sriperumbudur (Tamil Nadu), on the night of May 21, 1991, during an electioneering campaign. He was survived by his widow Sonia, daughter Priyanka and son Rahul.
From Sriperumbudur, Rajiv Gandhi’s coffin was taken in a special plane to New Delhi for cremation, which was done with state honors on May 24, at a specially constructed crematorium, called Veer Bhumi, in the Rajghat area of New Delhi.
Nearly 50 head of states, including D B Wijetunga, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, representing the President and the Government of Sri Lanka, participated in the funeral ceremony.
After Gandhi’s death, D R Karthikeyan was appointed as the head of a Special Investigative Team (SIT), to track down the killers. He told ‘Frontline,’ in May 1992, “In the first seven days after the assassination the world media speculated whether the crime would remain a mystery forever. But, within 10 days we found some slender clues. Within 20 days we made the first arrests – of Bhagyanathan and Padma. We unearthed substantial evidence in 60 days, we made number of arrests. Within 90 days, we tracked down the main conspirators in Bangalore. The charge-sheet was filed soon after.”
This was a well crafted statement, made by the crime-buster, who managed to weave a web around the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and managed to prove them guilty of the murder of Rajiv Gandhi.
As far as this writer is concerned, he unequivocally condemns the killing of the Rajiv Gandhi, but he is unmindful of the fact of whether the Tigers plotted to kill Rajiv Gandhi or not. His sole intention is to unravel the mystery behind the murder, which had purposely been left unsolved. The charge-sheet framed regarding the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi, had 41 persons, as the accused. Of these, three were Velupillai Prabakaran, the leader of the LTTE, Pottu Amman, the intelligence chief of the LTTE and Akhila, the deputy chief of the LTTE’s women’s intelligence wing.
In November 1, 1995, Akhila died. She had joined the LTTE in 1987 and had become the most daring female Tiger, who ever fought as an equal alongside the men.
Twelve accused by the time of the framing of the charge-sheet were dead and the remaining 26 were brought to trial before the Designated court, under the TADA Act. (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act), at Poonamallee, about 30 km from Madras.
The pre-trail proceedings began before the judge, on May 5, 1993. The court framed charges against the 26 accused, on November 24. These proceedings were only allowed to be covered by two news agencies – the Press Trust of India and the United News of India.
The 26 accused were:
Accused 1: S Nalini (the only one who was present at the scene of the crime); Indian; arrested on June 14, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 9, 1991.
Accused 2: T Suthendraraja alias Santhan; Sri Lankan; arrested on July 22, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Sept 17, 1991.
Accused 3: Sriharan alias Murugan alias Thas alias Indu Master; Sri Lankan; arrested on June 14, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 8, 1991.
Accused 4: Shankar alias Koneswaran; Sri Lankan; arrested on May 19, 1992; no confession.
Accused 5: D Vijayanandan alias Hari Aiyah; Sri Lankan; arrested on May 16, 1992; no confession.
Accused 6: Sivaruban alias Suresh alias Suresh Kumar alias Ruban; Sri Lankan; arrested on May 16, 1992; no confession.
Accused 7: S Kanagasabapathy alias Radhaiyah; Sri Lankan; arrested on July 4, 1991; no confession.
Accused 8: A Chandralekha alias Athirai alias Sonia alias Gowri; Sri Lankan; arrested on July 5, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 29, 1991.
Accused 9: B Robert Payas alias Kumaralingam; Sri Lankan; arrested on June 18, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 15, 1991.
Accused 10: S Jayakumar alias Jayakumaran alias Jayam; Sri Lankan; June 26, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 22, 1991.
Accused 11: J Shanthi; Indian; arrested on May 16, 1992; no confession.
Accused 12: S Vijayan alias Perumal Vijayan; Sri Lankan; arrested on July 8 1991; confessional statement recorded on Sept 4, 1991.
Accused 13: V Selvaluxmi; Indian; arrested on May 16, 1992; no confession.
Accused 14: S Bhaskaran alias Velayutham; Indian; arrested on July 8 1991; no confession.
Accused 15: S Shanmugavadivelu alias Thambi Anna; Sri Lankan; arrested on May 16, 1992; confessional statement recorded on May 17, 1992.
Accused 16: P Ravichandran alias Ravi alias Pragasam; Indian; arrested on Jan 6, 1992; confessional statement recorded on Feb 14, 1992.
Accused 17: M Suseendran alias Mahesh; Indian; arrested on Jan.6, 1992; confessional statement recorded on Feb14, 1992.
Accused 18: G Perarivalan alias Arivu; Indian; arrested on June 19, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 15, 1991.
Accused 19: S Irumborai alias Duraisingam; Indian; arrested on Oct 9, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Dec 3, 1991.
Accused 20: S Bhagyanathan; Indian; arrested on June 11, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 5, 1991.
Accused 21: S Padma; Indian; arrested on June 11, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Aug 7, 1991.
Accused 22: A Sundaram alias Subha Sundaram; Indian; arrested on July 2, 1991; no confession.
Accused 23: K Dhanasekaran alias Raju; Indian; arrested on Oct 13 1991; confessional statement recorded on Nov 4, 1991.
Accused 24: N Rajasuriya alias Rangan; Sri Lankan; arrested on Aug 28, 1991; confessional statement recorded on Oct 23, 1991.
Accused 25: T Vigneswaran alias Vicky; Sri Lankan; arrested on Feb.4, 1992; confessional statement recorded on Feb 24, 1992.
Accused 26: J Ranganath; Indian; arrested on Aug 28, 1991; no confession.
The trial started on January 19, 1994 and was held in camera. Out of the 1,044 witnesses cited, 288 were examined. The prosecution produced 1,477 documents, which ran to about 10,000 pages. It also produced 1,180 objects of evidences. The defense produced 74 documents. The arguments concluded on November 5, 1997. On January 28, 1988, the judge – V Navaneetham (who had replaced Judge S M Siddick), convicted and sentenced all 26 accused to death. It was held that, all of them conspired to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, with the help of LTTE. The death sentence was subject to confirmation by the Supreme Court of India.
“In this case, Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, was assassinated in pursuance of a diabolical plot, carefully conceived and executed by a highly organized foreign terrorist organization, the LTTE. Sixteen innocent lives were lost and many sustained grievous/simple injuries.” The names of others who died during the explosion were as follows: P K Gupta (personal security officer to Rajiv Gandhi), Latha Kannan, Kokilavani, Iqbal (superintendent of police), Rajakuru (inspector of police), Edward Joseph (inspector of police), Ethiraj (sub-inspector of police), Sundaraju Pillai (police constable), Ravi (commando police constable), Dharman (police constable), Chandra (woman police constable), Santhani Begum, Darryl Peter, Kumari Saroja Devi and Munuswamy.
“Considering the above circumstances, I hold this rarest of rare case and I award the death sentence for the accused,” Judge M Navaneetham said, “adding that from the evidence, oral and documentary, it was established by the prosecution that the conspiracy was hatched by Prabakaran, the LTTE leader.”
Besides the charges of conspiracy, the judge also held that the accused were guilty of offenses under the provisions of the TADA Act, the Explosive Substances Act, the Arms Act, the Passport Act, the Foreigners Act and the Wireless and Telegraphy Act and also offenses committed under various other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The charge sheet filed by the Special Investigation Team of the CBI, on May 22, 1992, sought to piece together the sequence of events from July 1987, leading to the assassination. It listed 41 persons as accused. Twelve of them were dead, of whom 10 were Sri Lankans and three were declared proclaimed absconders. None of the 26 accused in custody received bail and they were lodged in the high security Poonamallee prison.
Sivarasan alias Bhackiachandran, Dhanu, Subha, Haribabu, Nehru alias Gokhul, Shanmugam, Gundu Santhan, Suresh Master, Dixon alias Kishore, Amman alias Gaigaikumar, Anna alias Kirthi and Kamuna alias Jamila were all dead.
LTTE supreme Prabakaran, Pottu Amman and Akhila were declared proclaimed absconders.
The judgment ran into nearly 2,000 pages and the judge read out only the operative portions, which itself took almost the entire day. The trial started on January 19, 1994 and concluded on November 5, 1997. The judge held that the charge of conspiracy had been proved against all the accused.
In respect of Nalini – accused No 1 and Perarivalan – accused No 18, the judge held that the charges against them under IPC section 302 had also been proved. The judged held that Nalini shared the common intention to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi and convicted her under 16 counts.
He also found her guilty under section 3(2) of the TADA Act as the assassination was a terrorist act committed on Indian soil. She was also found guilty under section 326 of the IPC causing grievous injuries to 13 persons and under Section 324 for causing simple injuries to six persons. Nalini, who married another accused, Murugan, while they were in custody, was found guilty of harboring, conspiring, abetment and preparatory to the commissioning of a terrorist act and that she had also indulged in a disruptive act under section 4 (3) of the TADA Act.
Santhan – accused No 2, was found guilty under Section 3 (3) of the TADA Act and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
Murugan – accused No 3, was found guilty under Section 3 (3) of the TADA Act, Section 14 of the Foreigners Act and Section 6 (1) A of the Wireless and Telegraphy Act.
Sankar alias Koneswaran – accused No 4; T Vijayanandan – accused No 5; Ruban alias Sureshkumar – accused No 6 were found guilty under Section 3 (3) of the TADA Act and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
Kanagasabapathy – accused No 7, was found guilty under Section 3 (3) and 3 (4) of the TADA Act, IPC section 212 and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
Arthiral alias Chandralekha – accused No 8, was found guilty under Section 3 (4) of the TADA Act, IPC Section 212 and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
Perarivalan – Accused No 18, who was alleged to have prepared the belt bomb, was found guilty under Section 3(3) of TADA Act, Section 302 of the IPC read with section 109 of the IP|C (abatement) Sections 326 and 324 of the IPC. Sections 6(1)A of the Wireless and Telegraphy Act, Section 12 of the Passport Act and Section 4(3) read with Section 4(1) of the TADA Act. The charge against Perarivalan was that, he purchased two nine volt battery cells to detonate the bomb.
The others convicted were, Robert Pyass A-9, Jayakumar A-10, J Shanthi A-11, P Vijayan A-12, Selvalakshmi A-13, Bhaskaran A-14, Shanmugavadivelu alias Thambi Anna A-15, Ravichandran alias Ravi alias Prakasam A-16, Mahesh alias Surendran A-17, Irumborai A-19, S Bhagynathan A-20, S Padma A-21, Sundram alias Subha Sundram A-22, K Dhanasekaran, Rangan A-23, Rangan A-24, Vickey alias Vigneswaran A-25 and J Ranganath A-26.
The judge Navaneetham culled out evidence, to show how the hatred sown in the mind of the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakaran, developed into a motive to kill Rajiv Gandhi. According to the judge, Prabakaran was disappointed because, the LTTE was not recognized by Rajiv Gandhi, as the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils, as he found out during his visit to Delhi, before the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, that the leaders of the other Tamil groups – EPRLF, ENDLF, TELO, PLOTE, EROS and TULF – also took part in discussions, at a meeting in Delhi, with Rajiv Gandhi.
The judge noted that, Prabakaran was not satisfied with the accord, as the LTTE was not a party to it. In this context, the judge said that, the visit of prosecution witness No (PW) 250 – V Goplaswamy, former Rajya Sabah MP, who was at that time, a leading and senior member of the Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK) and at present, the General Secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (MDMK) – to Jaffna and the Vavuniya jungles, clandestinely by a boat, on February 6, 1989 and his meeting with Prabakaran, was relevant and significant.
The judge said that, PW 250 going to Jaffna and his meeting with Prabakaran and others were video-taped and during his deposition he identified the video cassette marked as an exhibit, containing his trip to Jaffna. According to the prosecution, PW 250, while addressing the International Tamil Conference, in London, in 1988, stated that Prabakaran told him on the phone that “he was betrayed by the Government of India and by Rajiv Gandhi, also he was stabbed in the back”.
But during cross examination, PW 250 denied having said that. The judge said from the evidence, the only conclusion that could be arrived at was that, he did speak at the conference and his denial in this regard had been proved to be false in cross-examination.
The judge was of the view that, though PW 250 turned hostile, his evidence in the light of the Supreme Court decision had to be accepted. He deposed to the court that, the movements of the undisputed leader of the LTTE were curtailed in Delhi during his stay there. No one was allowed to meet him. On July 29, 1987, when the Accord was signed in Colombo, by Rajiv Gandhi and J R Jayewardene. Prabakaran was in Delhi. It was at that point that, the seed of hatred against Rajiv Gandhi was sown in the mind of Prabakaran.
The judge noted that this hatred gradually developed into animosity against Rajiv Gandhi, in view of the events that took place after the IPKF was inducted in Sri Lanka.
The judge also referred to the deposition made by Vazhapadi K Ramamurthy (PW 258), former President of the Tamil Nadu Indira Congress Party, who said that, his party was committed to the accord of July 1987. The judge said that the Congress Party’s election manifesto showed, Rajiv Gandhi’s commitment to the Accord and his desire to protect the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
If Rajiv Gandhi were to return to power, the avowed objective of achieving Tamil Eelam would remain a dream for the LTTE and Prabakaran. Therefore, the only way such an event could be prevented was by pre-empting the possibility of Rajiv Gandhi coming back to power, by eliminating him, and this was the immediate motive in designing the conspiracy.
Referring to the arguments of the defence council, that many other militant groups like ULFA and J&K militants and Punjab militants were against Rajiv Gandhi, the judge said that it was true that Rajiv Gandhi had threats from some militant groups in India.
There was not an iota of evidence available in this case to support the contention that any other foreign elements were involved, as pointed out by the defence counsel, in this regard. On the other hand, the facts and circumstances proved in this case, through witnesses and documents, clearly established beyond any doubt that, Prabakaran and the LTTE alone had a very strong motive to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
When the Judge Navaneetham “broke” the nib of his pen after signing the judgment, it was a moment in history: never before in post-Independence India had the death sentence been handed to so many people in one case. It was also the longest assassination trial in the country. The in camera the trial began on January 14, 1994 and concluded on November 5 1997, while the case itself went on for a little under six years, beginning with the filing of the charge sheet by the SIT on May 20, 1992, exactly a year after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
In the “rarest of rare” case, the judge held that, the charge of conspiracy had been proved against all the accused, of whom 13 of them Indians. The accused were also held guilty under the TADA Act, the Explosives Substances Act, the Passport Act, the Arms Act, the Wireless and Telegraphy Act and the Foreigners Act, besides several sections of the Indian Penal Code. “The nation’s and the SIT’s single-minded pursuit of truth stood vindicated,” said an obviously elated Karthikeyan. “The court has upheld the SIT’s findings and it has been proved that the Indian police are second to none.”
The accused were convicted and sentenced to death, on January 28, 1998, in a judgment that shocked many observers. Lawyers for the defense called it a “judicial massacre”. Appeals against the convictions and sentences were submitted to the Supreme Court, in February 1998.
On May 11, the Supreme Court in its verdict announced that four would pay with their lives for the assassination, while 19 of the 26 sentenced to death by the trial court had been acquitted. For the remaining three, the apex court commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment. In a 2-1 majority verdict, the court upheld the conviction of four accused – Nalini, her husband Murugan, Santhan and Arivu – confirming their death sentence.
Death sentences to Robert Payas (Accused 9), Jayakumar (Accused 10) and Ravichandran (Accused 16), delivered at the Designated Trial Court, was altered to life imprisonment. The other 19 appellants were freed.
The bench comprised Justice K T Thomas, Justice D P Wadhwa and Justice S S M Quadri, each pronouncing a separate verdict and the last two constituting the majority view. While Justice Thomas and Justice Quadri agreed on the death sentence to three of the above, there were sharp differences among them on the sentence to be awarded to Nalini. Justice Thomas said Nalini was an educated woman and “was an obedient participant in the conspiracy, but played no dominant role. She was brainwashed by Murugan and others to believe the horrific stories about IPKF excesses in Sri Lanka,” the judge said, and that she had confided in her brother that, she never realized the seriousness of the conspiracy, till it was too late for her to withdraw.
However, Justice Quadri said, “if the death sentence was not awarded to Nalini, who was a willing participant in the conspiracy to kill, then justice would be stunted.” Justice Wadhwa said “she was mentally prepared by Dhanu, Sivarasan, Murugan and Subha and she voluntarily participated in the dry run at V P Singh’s function, held a few days earlier.”
And both Justice Wadhwa and Justice Quadri concurred on awarding the death sentence to her, although Justice Thomas observed that, “as Murugan, the father of their child, [he married Nalini in prison], was awarded the death sentence, the mother [Nalini] should be saved not to make the child an orphan.”
Justice Thomas put all the accused into four categories: those who formed the hardcore; those who induced others into the conspiracy and played an active role, those who joined the conspiracy, and those who played a passive role. The judge said all the accused belonging to the first category, including V Prabhakaran, were never brought to trial, because they were either dead or absconding. “The seven accused whose conviction is upheld belong to the second category,” the judge ruled. While upholding the conviction of only the seven accused, on the charge of conspiracy to murder Rajiv Gandhi under Sections 302 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code, the judges set aside their conviction under various provisions of the TADA.
The judges acquitted 18 out of the remaining 19 accused on the charge of conspiracy to murder Rajiv Gandhi. Their conviction for minor offences was upheld, but they were ordered to be released forthwith, as they had already served the necessary period of imprisonment. One accused, S Shanmugavadivelu, was acquitted of all charges.
Though 41 people, including Prabhakaran, Pottu Amman and Akhila were arraigned, as accused in the charge sheet filed by the SIT, only 26 were tried. Of the 41 accused, 12 others including the alleged assassins were killed later. Belt-bomb assassin Dhanu blew herself up killing Rajiv Gandhi, while her accomplice Subha and one-eyed Jack Sivarasan committed suicide.
Senior advocate N Natarajan, who appeared for Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, said the four accused would seek presidential mercy; and they would also move the Supreme Court to stay the death sentence until the President acted on their mercy petitions, he added. The four prisoners were lodged in Central Prison, Vellore. Nalini was in the women’s prison.
On August 1997: The Jain Commission submitted its Interim Report, consisting of 17 volumes, to the then Home Minister Indrajit Gupta. The interim report was 5,280 pages long, comprising eight volumes of interim findings and nine volumes of annexes. The report carried the testimonies of 110 witnesses. On 7 March 1998: The Jain Commission submitted its Final Report, consisting of 2,000 pages. The Jain Commission was appointed on August 23, 1991 to probe conspiracies behind the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. A woman suicide bomber assassinated Rajiv Gandhi during election campaign in Tamil Nadu in May 1991. LTTE leader V Prabhakaran and Tiger intelligence chief Pottu Amman are the two main accused in the court case relating to the killing.
The 17-volume with 5,280 page Jain Commission interim report says that, the Rajiv assassination would not have been possible, without the deep nexus of LTTE operatives and the Tamils in Tamil Nadu and accused the DMK of assisting the Tigers, even when an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was fighting the LTTE in Sri Lanka. The report also blamed former Prime Ministers VP Singh and Chandra Shekar, for denying adequate security for Rajiv Gandhi. DMK leader M Karunanidhi rejects the findings of the Commission and highlighted the roles of Congress (I) leaders, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, in supplying arms and providing training to the LTTE.
Justice Jain, who had reportedly devoted a whole section to Chandraswami – the god-man – seems convinced that the latter was involved. He quotes intelligence reports and government communications to buttress his case.
The Jain Commission final report has also found the information furnished by the PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, as “genuine” and left it to the Government to take action it may think proper. According to the Palestine ambassador, Arafat, was convinced of the existence of an international plot to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi and also of the possibility of the threat manifesting itself in south India.
The Palestine ambassador to India was called to the Ministry of External Affairs for discussions on November 5, 1997. The ambassador has been in India for nine years and he had warned Rajiv Gandhi of the threat to his life.
“The ambassador said that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was not specifically told about who could be behind the threat. There was a general discussion of possible sources of danger and in this context, Mossad, the CIA and the LTTE had been mentioned. The Ambassador added that although the information available at that time was based on reports received from within India and from sources in Israel and Europe, the Palestinians did not have any specific information on who would carry out the threat or when and how it would be implemented. The Ambassador also said that he had the impression that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was aware of the threats to his life, as he had then mentioned to the Ambassador that he had received similar information separately.” (Jain Commission Report – Volume III, Page 90) On the difficulties in cracking international conspiracies, the final report said, “The task to find as to where and by whom the conspiracy was hatched and how the conspiracy was to be executed is very difficult, almost impossible to unravel, as neither the conspirators nor their aides would come forward. It is only when their actions and activities come to light at a distant point of time and such persons are apprehended, it may be possible that they may unravel the conspiracy.”
Coming back to Arafat’s information on the threat to Rajiv Gandhi’s life, the report noted that the then Foreign Secretary, Muchkund Dubey, had called the Palestine ambassador on June 6, 1991 and talked to him in detail regarding Arafat’s warning to Rajiv Gandhi against the plot to assassinate him. “The Palestine Ambassador had talked to Shri Gandhi towards the end of the February in 1991 and again in the middle of April. On each of these two occasions, President Arafat had specific information justifying apprehensions regarding Shri Gandhi’s life and had instructed his Ambassador here to talk to Shri Gandhi. Again, one week before the assassination, President Arafat had called the Palestine Ambassador here and had expressed his anxiety over threat to Shri Gandhi’s life after seeing him and Mrs Sonia Gandhi coming so close to the crowds in election meetings.” (Jain Commission Report – Vol III, Page 12)
The ambassador claimed that, during Gandhi’s Prime Ministership he used to keep him informed from time to time of all such movements and there was a two-way exchange of information. This came to an end after Gandhi ceased to be the Prime Minister in 1989. Running through Volume three, Arafat’s apprehension also finds mention in the information given to the Commission by Sonia Gandhi. She stated that Arafat had sent messages to Rajiv Gandhi through the Palestine Mission in India, saying that they had learnt of threats to her husband’s life.
In the information furnished to the Commission, Sonia Gandhi said: “This was reconfirmed to me and my children personally by President Arafat when he met us soon after my husband’s funeral. There were several occasions when he received similar information from other quarters. His immediate reaction on getting these warnings would be to show concern about the safety of his family. He would ask my daughter and me to take certain precautions…..he was also worried about the safety of our son, who was studying in the U.S. He would ask me to telephone him and urge him also to be extra careful and alert.” (Jain Commission Report – Volume III, Page 63).
Furthermore, “Nepal Review”, criticized a news item titled “Reckless Relations” published in December 1, 1997 issue of “India Today,” an Indian news magazine, which has dragged the Nepalese monarchy into a controversy by linking it to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The item based on the Jain Commission report relating to the assassination Rajiv Gandhi states that, the report contains a RAW document which, quoting “unverified reports” implicates the Nepalese Queen in the assassination. “India Today” states, “Queen of Nepal had asked Major-General Aditya Shamser Jang Bahadur, an honorary aide-de-camp to King Birendra to arrange for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi for which Rs 10 Crore would be made available”. Citing unverified reports to charge Queen Aishwariya of Nepal of conspiring to kill Rajiv was clearly uncalled for and its impact on future Indo-Nepalese relations is difficult to assess.
“Local observers here feel that the sudden appearance of such news item citing RAW (Indian intelligence wing) that the Nepali Queen’s hand in helping to engineer the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian prime minister, can only be taken as yet another RAW move to blemish the Nepali Monarchy. They state that unverified sources brought into print of this type can be nothing else than mischievous given also the distance from reality that such concoctions belie. General Aditya Shumser, now deceased, (Major-General Aditya Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana had died years before Rajiv was killed.) in Nepali reality could hardly be a trusty of the Palace what with his family linkages in the Nepali context. To recall, that he was made an honorary ADC to the King after he was passed over for the post of Army Chief.”
Justice Jain’s interim report had created a political storm in India, when it said that the DMK, now the ruling party in Tamil Nadu (at the time of the releasing of the report, but now out of office and in the opposition), was also part of the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi. It also boldly asserted that the assassination would not have taken place, if the Tamils of Tamil Nadu had not supported the LTTE. The Congress party clamored for action against the DMK, which was then part of the I K Gujral government in New Delhi. Its insistence led to the fall of Gujral’s government and , subsequent elections brought a coalition led by the BJP (Bharatya Janata Party) to office.
In the final report, Justice Jain has said, only “very few” Tamils in Tamils Nadu had supported the LTTE. But he said, that DMK Chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his Minister Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, should have been questioned. The latter is listed among 21 additional suspects, whom the SIT had failed to investigate. Among the 21 were, the top LTTE arms procurer K Pathmanathan, (KP), and top leaders Kittu, and Baby Subramanian. (Full details are given as an annex to this chapter)
The SIT source said that, over the seven years it functioned, the Jain Commission had entertained many such amazing theories and used the confusion thus created to get its term extended from time to time.
While further serious allegations were recklessly made, stated above by the Jain Commission that, SIT have failed to bring supplementary charges against 21 people, Karthikeyan, the head of the SIT, failed to place the truth in his deposition to the Jain Commission – his interaction, either friendly or hostile, with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – when he was in Sri Lanka on an assignment during the IPKF period. He himself said in an interview given to “Frontline” dated February 7-20, 1988, “During the Indian Peace-Keeping Force operation in Sri Lanka, I was entrusted with a unique operation to make an assessment of the prevailing situation. I have never spoken of this assignment before.” This statement shows that he deliberately withheld facts from the Jain Commission.
In an interview with Rediff.com, an Indian news website, dated May 14, 1999, D R Karthikeyan speaks of “Q: The judgment also spoke of a ‘paucity of evidence’. Were you satisfied with the extent of evidence produced during the investigations?
“A: Look, my job was like that of a scientist in a laboratory. I can only find evidence that is already there. Me and my team worked seven days a week, 20 hours a day, for a whole year. We viewed 500 videocassettes, scanned thousands of photographs and interrogated 5,000 people. All together, our evidence would probably fill this room. Whatever evidence was there, we produced that. But we couldn’t concoct evidence, and I refused outright to allow any doubtful information, even if it was merely to help make “the truth appear to be true.
“In fact, let me tell you that, when I was asked by the [Union] government to take on the investigation on May 22, 1991, [the day after Gandhi’s assassination], I was heading the Central Reserve Police Force in Hyderabad. As I was flying from Hyderabad to Delhi, there was only one thought in my mind, that please let it not be the LTTE. Because, I had dealt with them before, and I knew how difficult it would be to catch any suspects alive.
“It is a little known fact, but at the height of the Indian peacekeeping force’s operations in Sri Lanka, the then Cabinet Secretary T N Seshan asked me to go to Sri Lanka, and give the government an unbiased view of the scenario on the ground. He said that they had very conflicting report from various intelligence agencies. They wanted my version of how well/badly the IPKF was doing. I went all over the island, wherever our jawans were — to Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Jaffna. I studied the LTTE movement, their operations very closely. When I came back, I submitted my conclusions that either the IPKF should be recalled, or if we wanted to have a true accord in the region, we would have to speak to the LTTE. “However, events overtook us after that, and the Rajiv Gandhi government fell soon after. That is why I had this wishful thinking that I hope it wouldn’t be the LTTE. But when I reached the scene at Sriperumbudur, I realized fairly soon that it was in fact the LTTE that had killed Rajiv, and at the end of my investigations, I also concluded that it was only the LTTE and nobody else that was involved.
“Q: In that conclusion, you differed with the Jain Commission, who felt there should be further investigations into the role of many outside influences, including the Mossad, the CIA, and god-man Chandraswami?
“A: [Laughs.] Yes, but how can I comment on another agency’s findings? I will say this, that if you feel that the LTTE would have done this at the behest of anyone else, if you think that the LTTE would have done this for money, then you do not know or understand the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. From my investigation, I can say I do, and I don’t believe they are mercenaries. They are committed to their cause, and their operations are unlike that of any other terrorist organization in the world. “I think the Jain Commission, in a sense, became the platform for political vendettas. Every political party used it to blame every other political party. I made it clear at the very beginning of my investigation, that, I would brook no political interference whatsoever. That is possibly why we completed our entire investigations, found so many suspects, all within the space of one year.
“Q: To go back to the Supreme Court judgment, do you think it was due to the consideration that as many as 26 people had been sentenced to death? As a member of the National Human Rights Commission, do you feel more sensitive to the argument that, hanging so many might be seen as ‘state-condoned massacre’?
“A: No, that’s ridiculous. Human rights doesn’t mean supporting terrorists. Let me tell you, terrorists like the LTTE are the worst violators of human rights themselves. Besides, they didn’t just kill the former prime minister of our country. He was at an election meeting, he unsuspectingly reached out for a garland, and they tricked him and killed him. Don’t forget 17 other equally innocent people died in the blast. And what about the effect on our nation? You can’t just look at numbers, but if you want to then 18 people died in the attack. So why can’t 26 people, who have been convicted, hang for it?” Dr Subramanian Swami in his The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: Unanswered Questions and Unasked Queries reproduced an interview published in “Outlook” magazine: “Jayaram Ranganath, was accused No 26 in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. A Kannadiga Tamil from Bangalore, he was married to Mirudula (who has disowned him now), and owned a workshop in the Garden city. Sivarasan alias one-eyed Jack, and Subha, part of the killer squad at Sriperumbudur, along with five other – knocked on his backdoor and received sanctuary in his house on August 6, 1991. The LTTE operatives stayed on till August 20 when CBI raided the house. “Ranganath was arrested on August 18, 1991, for sheltering Sivarasan and Subha. Ironically, it was Ranganath after being apprehended, who informed the police about the fugitives in his house. Ranganath filed an affidavit before the Jain Commission through a pro-LTTE lawyer, ‘Outlook,’ journalist, A S Panneer Selvan, (also a pro-LTTE – at present works as News Editor, along with Malan, another compromising journalist, attached to Sun News TV network of M.Karunanidhi’s – the pro-LTTE DMK leader and former Chief Minister, family owned property), managed thereafter to interview Ranganath. The questions were sent to him at the high security Poonamallee sub-jail located within the designated court complex, where the Rajiv assassination case was being heard. Ranganath’s answers were duly attested by the additional superintendent if the jail were published by Outlook (18.12.97), which magazine also ran disinformation campaign stories in favor of the LTTE for two years, including ‘Mossad did it, line. Here are some excerpts:
“Q: Did Sivarasan and Subha tell you about their connections with Chandraswami and an AICC functionary?
“A: They did speak about their connections with Chandraswami and also with a Congress leader from Karnataka, who was a member of Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet. They use to say that it was through this leader that they got the details of Rajiv Gandhi’s election tour programme. They talked about the AICC functionary as their close associate. During his stay with me, Sivarasan also informed me that Chandraswami was his godfather. (In his affidavit submitted to the Jain Commission on November 4, Ranganath also speaks of Sivarasan and Subha, naming Aswath Narayan, a local Congress leader, as one of their friends. Both Subha and Sivarasan pointed out that, Narayan was close to the AICC functionary, Margaret Alva in Delhi, who ‘helped’ them with Rajiv’s tour programme. Margaret Alva did lobby for Aswath Narayan to get the MLA (Member of the Legislative Council) ticket in the 1995 Assembly Elections in Karnataka. It was cut by PV Narasimha Rao himself at the last moment.)
“Q: What are the truths the CBI refused to record or act upon?
“A: The CBI chief Karthikeyan warned me not to speak anything about the AICC functionary or any other Congress people, and Chandraswami. Karthikeyan seemed to know the facts about the assassination and also the powers behind Rajiv’s killing. He warned me of serious consequences if I gave the information to a magistrate or others. From what he told me it was clear that he was shielding Chandraswami and some key Congress people. Even after my request, CBI (SIT) failed to record my statement.
“Q: How do you know that CBI was reluctant to arrest Sivarasan and Subha?
“A: Perhaps because if he were caught alive, Sivarasan would squeal about those who conspired to kill Rajiv and also his (Sivarasn’s) connection with Congressmen. This is perhaps why even on August 18, 1991, the CBI did not allow the local police to catch them. If I get an opportunity to depose before the Jain Commission, then I will prove the fact that there are other persons involved in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. I am the only one alive who stayed with Sivarasan and Subha (after assassination) and heard what they have to say about the killing.”
On August 21, 1991, S B Chavan, the Minister of Home Affairs, made a statement from the floor of the Indian parliament regarding the encounter with LTTE militants, on August 20, 1991 at Konanakunte near Bangalore
“I rise to apprise this August House on the details of the incident at Konanakunte near Bangalore in which Sivarasan, one of the main accused in Shri Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and six others were found dead.
“In pursuance of the consent given by the Government of Tamil Nadu to investigate the case of Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, a Special Investigation Team was formed. The SIT has examined 346 witnesses and conducted searches at 49 places seizing incriminating material. 14 accused persons were also arrested. As you are all aware, the most important accused who had remained to be arrested were Sivarasan and Subha. A nation-wide man-hunt was launched and efforts were being made to locate the hideout of these main conspirators.
“Suspecting that some LTTE militants were hiding in Muttati and Beroota villages of Mandya District, raids, in all, 12 LTTE cadres were taka Police on 17/18-8-91. In these raids. in all, 12 LTTE cadres were found dead after committing suicide by consuming cyanide and five suspect who were apprehended were admitted in Bowring Hospital, Bangalore. During investigation, it was ascertained that a person by name ‘Anjanappa’n of Puttenahalli had helped the LTTE militants to find houses in Muttati and Beroota. Further, a diary containing a list of 26 militants was also found at Muttati. Based on this information, another person by name’ Ranganath’ was also apprehended by Bangalore City Police. This person gave information about a house in Konanakunte, which was arranged by him for six militants. The City Police along with SIT surrounded this house on the night of 18-8-1991 and kept a continuous watch on the house. Further, one person by name ‘Prem Kumar’, was apprehended at Konanakunte crossing. He was the man who was supplying food etc., to the LTTET’E militants hiding in Konanakunte house. Further enquiries revealed the presence of LTTE militants including Sivarasan and perhaps Subha in the above house.
“To try and capture Sivarasan and others alive, watch was continued throughout the 19th and the entire area was encircled and guarded by plainclothes-men and NSG Commandos positioned strategically. Additional reinforcement of NSG Commandos and medical expert with latest anti-cyanide antidote were requisitioned from Delhi. It was decided not to storm the place, as similar action earlier on several occasions had resulted in even minor LTTE functionaries committing suicide. On 19th, around 7.00pm, the LTTE militants holed up inside the house, opened fire indiscriminately without any apparent reason. The NSG returned the fire. This exchange of fire continued for about 30 minutes and three police personnel (one of NSG and two of Karnataka Police) sustained injuries. The injured are out of danger. The militants opened fire either because, they were wanting to escape under the cover of fire, or because of some movements close to the house, where the local residents were trying to move a broken-down lorry. Two militants who came out, perhaps in a bid to escape ran back inside the house. Later, around 8.00 P.M., about 7-8 more rounds were fired by the militants for about half a minute.
“After the arrival of the additional reinforcements and the medical team with the latest anti-cyanide antidote from Delhi, in the early hours of 20th August, the house was stormed at about 6.30am. The NSG Commandos blasted the door and entered the house. They found the dead bodies of 7 LTTE militants. They included the wanted Sivarasan and a woman, who is obviously Subha, but whose identity requires evidential confirmation. Efforts are on to identify all the other bodies. One AK 47 rifle and a 9 MM pistol and several rounds of ammunition were recovered. Sivarasan was found with a bullet injury in the temple of his head. All others obviously died, due to cyanide poisoning. It is being ascertained, whether Sivarasan also consumed cyanide capsule. The bodies were shifted to Victoria Hospital, for post-mortem examination.
“The whole operation was supervised by CBI Director, SIT Chief, the City Police Commissioner of Bangalore and the NSG officers. Meanwhile, the SIT will continue investigation of case relentlessly, with the objective of unraveling the entire conspiracy behind the assassination, identifying and arresting the remaining accused person and eventually charge sheeting the case in court.” Meanwhile, Dr Subramanian Swamy has recently raised doubts about the death of Sivarasan, in his recent book, as follows:
“Sivarasan, for whom a massive manhunt was mounted by SIT, was finally tracked down to a house on the outskirts of Bangalore. He was admittedly the leader of the killer squad and should have been aware of the highlights of the conspiracy. But, the intriguing point was that, while eight others of the squad were found dead by consuming cyanide (in accordance with the LTTE dictum) Sivarasan was found dead with bullet injuries. Sivarasan’s mortal remains were quickly cremated, while belt-bomb girl Dhanu’s remains had been preserved in Chennai as a prosecution exhibit. Why the difference?” – The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: Unanswered Questions and Unasked Queries – page 198. One cannot allege that Subramanian Swamy was a sympathizer of Prabhakaran. Thus, even the maverick politician Subramanian Swamy finds it difficult to accept the official version of Sivarasan’s death and the quick cremation of his mortal remains. Questions arise that if there was no hanky-panky on Sivarasan’s death, why were his remains hurriedly cremated? Rajeev Sharma, the journalist, who wrote another book on the assassination, informs that:
“Sivarasan and Subha were cremated amid tight security at Bangalore’s Wilson Garden crematorium on September 3, 1991” – Beyond the Tigers 1998, page 104. As informed by defense lawyer Doraisamy, what Sivarasan revealed to Ranganath, the 26th accused, who harbored him during the final three weeks of fugitive’s life, about his links to the controversial Chandraswamy falls into the espionage angle of the Rajiv assassination. One more incident needs to be pointed out. It is the arrest and the subsequent death of Mirasudar Shanmugam of Ramanathapuram. Shanmugam, a local Congress leader and known to be very close to the LTTE leadership, was arrested in July 1991. But within a few hours in SIT custody he was found dead under mysterious circumstances. The SIT version was that Shanmugam escaped from the Travelers Bungalow, where he was being held, when he went to wash his hands after dinner. He was reported to have escaped, scaling the back wall of the Travelers Bungalow. Immediately, a search party of police and dogs, under a Deputy Inspector General of Police, was organized and sent to search for the allegedly fleeing Shanmugam. But, it took nearly seven hours for the search party to locate Shanmugam’s body hanging from a branch right across the street from the Travelers Bungalow. The special correspondent of “The Hindu”, quoting Nagapattinam hospital sources, reported on July 22, “The hyoid bone in the neck was surprisingly found unbroken. The death could have occurred between 2 and 3am. A person could be killed without any evidence by pressing hard at a point below the voice box on the throat.”
Shanmugam’s mysterious death was so sudden and quick, also done with the intention to silence him from talking. SIT and Karthikeyan knew that Shanmugam knew a lot of information about the people behind the alleged plot to kill Rajiv Gandhi. Therefore, it was made sure that he would not open his mouth.
As Ranganath has alleged, when reading of the mysterious deaths of Sivarasan, Subha and others, Shanmugam, and again Dixon at a later stage, it seems that it was a clear design adopted by the SIT, to silence those who knew the truth, so that they would be able to weave a web around the way it has been pre-determined by those who were behind the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. It is unfortunate and reprehensible that, SIT had deliberately withheld information from the people of India by aiding in the cover-up of the true conspirators behind the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. Therefore, some form of action has to be taken to dig deep into the conspiracy.
Jain “spares” Tamils but says Karunanidhi should have been questioned.
– Monday, July 13, 1998, Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.
NEW DELHI, July 12: The interim report of the Justice M C Jain commission created a storm and ended a government. A few months later, Justice Jain has made a turnaround and has backtracked on some of his controversial comments.
A brief chapter in the final report titled “Deep nexus with Tamils” shows the volte-face on the support for the LTTE in Tamil Nadu. Jain had asserted in the interim report that the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi would not have been possible, without the “active connivance and support of the Tamils of Tamil Nadu.
He now says that, the expression “deep nexus” was meant for “very few” and not the entire Tamil population. He clarifies, “The expression deep nexus was never and could never have been intended to mean that such nexus was with all Tamil-speaking people of Tamil Nadu. All the Tamilians of Tamil Nadu might not even be in the know of the activities and operations of the LTTE.
“When they are not even in the know of, how can there be a deep nexus?” Jain reiterates the point several times and attempts to give a logical explanation for the callous remarks included in the interim report. “It the [LTTE] did enjoy moral and material support in Tamil Nadu. This is amply borne out by the investigation records … but the deep nexus could only be with very few”
What kicked off the controversy and triggered the chain reaction which led to the fall of the I K Gujral government was, Jain’s alleged “indictment” of M Karunanidhi’s DMK. Jain now clarifies, “There is no indictment in the interim report of any individual or organization or any party regarding the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.”
He also says the commission had inquired into the allegations that the DMK had printed posters hinting at the tragedy a day before the assassination and found them to be “baseless”.
However, Jain says further proof had come to the commission about the “rear base” and facilitation being given to the LTTE cadres during the DMK regime. He says this has been further borne out by reports of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), Madras which were given to the commission after the submission of the interim report.
The reports, dealing with the period 1989-91, trace the movement boats and arrival of arms in coastal Tamil Nadu as well as give proof of the logistical and medical assistance that was readily being given to LTTE cadres. The intelligence reports reinforce the allegations that the LTTE had a fertile ground in the Tamil Nadu for its operations during the DMK rule. The report shows that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had been kept informed about the “material and moral” support to the LTTE from DMK sympathizers.
One such message, sent by the Additional Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to the Home Secretary on January 30, 1990. The report quotes the letter: “The LTTE has been taking full advantage of the sympathies of the DMK in Tamil Nadu … local DMK leaders in the coastal region of Thanjavur have also been collaborating with the LTTE in their illegal trafficking and activities …” Jain says, it is for this reason that he felt the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi should have been among the politicians, who were questioned by the Special Investigating Team (SIT), which did the police investigations in the case. “On many matters his interrogation was quite relevant.”
When Jain deals with his list of “additional suspects” in the assassination case (Volume IV) he prefers to refer to them as the “supporters of chauvinist groups”. There are 21 persons who figure in his fresh list of “suspects” which is going to be made public almost seven years after the assassination. Jain says the Special Investigating Team should have filed supplementary charge-sheet against them. There are 11 Sri Lankans and 10 Indians on the list. Among the Indians is one former DMK minister Subbulakshmi Jagadishan and six activists of politicians from the Dravida Kazhagam (DK). Justice Jain has asked the Government to “adopt such course of action as it may think fit,” against the list of “suspects” in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Paving the way for additional charge-sheets being filed, Justice Jain explains that, this, would in no manner effect the original case against 41 accused persons.
He says, “the trial by the designated court was only in respect of the 41 persons arraigned as accused by the Special Investigating Team. It was not within the trial court to look beyond the 41 accused, so the question of exonerating others who did not figure in the charge-sheet did not exist. “Jain says that contrary to the assertion (during deposition) of the SIT Chief, D.R. Karthikeyan, that there “is little scope of involvement of any other persons,” his conclusion was that the SIT should have filed supplementary charge-sheets against a “large number” of persons.
He alleges that the SIT left “several” gaps in the investigation and in many areas left several areas and allegations either “uninvestigated” or “half-investigated.” Justice Jain’s list of additional suspects includes, Kittu, Baby Subramanian Justice Jain says that the evidence that has been presented to him ever since the commission was set up, shows the role and complicity of 21 persons in the assassination needs, “further scrutiny, examination and action in accordance with law”. They are:
Kumaran Padmanabha (KP): The main arms procurer for the LTTE. Investigations revealed that it was KP who had procured the IED for the belt bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi.
Baby Subramanian: Chief Commander of the LTTE, next only to V. Prabhakaran. Alleged to have been plotting the assassination from 1986. Many of the accused Indians like freelance photographer Haribabu were “recruited” by him.
Kanthan alias Neelan: Said to have played a “very important” role in the execution of the plot. Kanthan was the chief financer of Sivarasan and acted as the wireless contact between Sivrasan and Pottu Amman, the LTTE’s intelligence chief.
Ramanan: Member of LTTE’s international wing and an assistant of Kanthan. He also acted as Sivarasan’s wireless operator. He was among the suspects, who were picked up after the assassination and let off after questioning.
Chokkan alias Sabhapathy: A smuggler who had been used for LTTE in several operations. For this operation, he identified safe houses and provided money and transportation for several members of the death squad.
Lingam: A boat operator who was present in Kodiakkarai, Tanjore when some members of the killer squad landed and lodged them for two days.
Aruna: Was also present in Kodiakkarai, when the killer squad arrived.
Nixon: A member of LTTE’s intelligence wing, who manned a wireless base in Tamil Nadu an recruited some of the accused at Jaffna.
Kasi Anandan: Member of LTTE’s Political Committee. While Baby Subramaniam identified the Indians on the killer squad, Kasi Ananadan, identified the Sri Lankans and also created a smokescreen by meeting Rajiv Gandhi in March 1991.
Kittu: LTTE’s international spokesman, now dead.
Nixon alias Suren: Associate of Kanthan. He had been apprehended by the Sri Lankan police after the assassination, had confessed to being involved in the plot but had been let off.
Muthurajan: A known LTTE sympathizer and assistant of Baby Subramaniam who escaped to Sri Lanka after the assassination. He identified Haribabu.
Subbulakshmi Jagdishan: A former DMK minister, who had been questioned and released by the SIT. Justice Jain, however, says her interrogation was “laconic, sketchy and perfunctory.” Subhalakshimi is alleged to have provided refuge to Santhan, an accused, in her farmhouse in Coimbatore after the assassination.
T S Mani: DK state organizer who Justice Jain says was “actively involved” in the assassination plot. He is alleged to have given 2.5 kilogram’s of gold to Sivrasan and helped him escape to Bangalore. Mani had been picked up by the CBI soon after the assassination and used as a “source.” But Justice Jain says he gave the CBI false trails. “Law does not provide protection of such a source,” he says.
Jagannathan: An old member of the DK and an associate of T S Mani. Helped him in providing safe houses and communication facilities for Sivarasan and the others at Bangalore.
R Rajan: Described as a chauvinistic supporter of the LTTE.
Vasanthan: A confidant of Sivarasan and a member of the DK. Stayed with members of the squad for several days.
Balaguru, Paulraj and Srikanth: All members of the DK, who either provided logistical support to the death squad before or after the assassination.
Vasantha Kumar: An associate of Baby Subramaniam. He was given money by him and Prabhakaran to publish the book Satanic Forces in 1989, which was used by the LTTE for indoctrinating Subha and Nalini.