-The decision by Jayalalithaa giving an ultimatum to the central government will only ensure the growth of anarchism
– Rahul Gandhi says he is concerned about the decision. What was he doing all these years instead of acting upon the case considering his government was in power?
In probably one of the biggest lows where the national security of India is concerned, an ugly political game has broken over the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. While the Tamil Nadu government has given an ultimatum of three days to decide on whether the killers of Rajiv Gandhi whose death sentences were commuted should be released, the Union Government is contemplating moving the Supreme Court on this issue.
The lead investigator of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, K Ragothaman whose controversial book, Conspiracy to Kill Rajiv Gandhi: From CBI Files, raised a lot of questions is extremely upset with the manner in which things have turned around especially after such a difficult investigation. In this interview with rediff.com, he makes three very crucial points:
Sir, your thoughts on all the politics that has surrounded this case.
I hold the Union Government completely responsible for this mess. M Karunanidhi who is perceived to be close to the LTTE had reacted much faster on this case. When the convicts filed a mercy petition before the Governor of Tamil Nadu within six months the council of ministers took a decision and their plea was rejected. The accused then went up to the President seeking mercy and this is where the delay began. I fail to understand what the central government was doing for all these years without taking a decision.
There was a BJP government too during this period at the centre. What did they do on the issue?
I was told that L K Advani the Home Minister at that time had recommended the hanging of these persons. However Narayanan sent the file to the government. After this was done, the BJP lost power and it was the UPA led by the Congress which formed the government.
It is a known fact that Sonia Gandhi was the defacto chief of the UPA government. It was expected that she would act considering it involved the death of her husband.
Sonia Gandhi in all fairness to her husband’s life should have given priority to the case. It was for the council of ministers to recommend what ever they wanted to recommend. Let the President take a call, but then why should the Union Government delay their decision. The file had come back and it was up to the UPA government to take a decision. Based on this, the President would have given his decision. The delay in not deciding the case is what led to all these problems based on which the Supreme Court took its decision to commute the sentences.
Were Tamil groups influencing the decision?
It is clear that Sonia Gandhi instead of taking interest in this case considered the politics behind it which is very disheartening. After the death of Prabhakaran in 2009, if you notice the attitude of the accused persons changed. They knew that the Union Government was delaying the case and this led them to questioning the investigation. Even today the Supreme Court has not faulted the investigation. It has only spoken about the delay which means the probe conducted by us was right. After the death of Prabhakaran, many Tamil Groups joined together and started a movement stating that the investigation was false. The likes of Vaiko led this movement. What did the Union Government do? Instead of acting, it delayed the decision thus giving all these persons a long rope to question the investigation.
Do you think the delay by the union government was casual or political?
It is anything but casual. From day one after the death of Rajiv Gandhi both the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing have been poisoning the mind of Sonia Gandhi saying it was not the LTTE. When we pin pointed that the LTTE was involved, they sang another tune and said it was Chandraswami who used them. If Sonia Gandhi ever wanted justice, she would have acted. Instead she never bothered and used the issue of her husband’s death to come to power. In all ways if you look at this case, she is accountable for all this mess.
The next question is regarding J Jayalalithaa who has obviously used this as a political tool and ordered the release subject to the approval by the central government.
Yes, Jayalalithaa has taken advantage of the case and wants to wreck vengence on the Congress. She wants to be in the good books of the Tamil groups with the elections approaching. Jayalalithaa today has given an ultimatum to the centre. This only leads to anarchy and this will grow. Such cases would set precedents and the Akali Dal will use this as a precedent to release the killers of Beant Singh. I was just thinking had Afzal Guru been alive, he too would have reaped the benefit of such a precedent.
As an investigator how does it feel when politics is being played with a case which you investigated with so much difficulty.
We are not from the local police. Neither are we politicians. We are a professional force which attaches importance to the case and not the accused. Our job is to put up a strong case and ensure that the accused are convicted. I am happy that my team and I investigated the matter well and more importantly ensured that there was a conviction. We did our best although there were many more involved against whom we could not get evidence or arrest them. It was a tough case and today because of the inaction and indifference of the government, the convicts are set to be released.
Your thoughts on the Supreme Court decision to commute the death sentence to life.
It is an atrocious judgment to being with. The power of commutation is vested with the Governor and the President of the India. The Supreme Court started off by saying that they will not review their own judgment which had handed out a death penalty to these persons. They should have spoken on the delay and issued guidelines. The judgment that they have passed sets a bad precedent and has been ordered out of their purview.
Don’t you find it strange that even the government did not seek a review?
Yes it is strange. The Solicitor General could have preferred a review of the judgment immediately which was passed in January. He had not sought a review. The matter should have been reviewed before a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. Justice cannot be killed by the judiciary.
Rahul Gandhi said it is a sad day. Your thoughts sir.
Rahul Gandhi says that he is upset. I want to ask him what he was doing when the mercy petition was pending. He had a lot of time on hand to act on this case. He sat quiet and today he says he is upset. It is artrocious and nothing but a political game being played on dead bodies.
What should be done now?
This is election time and each one will try to get the better of the other. I wish better sense prevails and some body comes forward and rectifies this. If no remedy is found immediately then it sets a very bad precedent for all other cases.