Who Killed Rajiv Gandhi?
The book, An Inside Job?, looks at who benefited politically from the Rajiv assassination and how it has changed the way politics has played out in India in the decades following.
Who killed Rajiv Gandhi, India’s bright and youthful Congress leader and one-time Prime Minister? And why?
This may forever remain a mystery, as much of a mystery as the killing of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ol of Palme, Benazir Bhutto and several other leading politicians across the globe in the last fifty years.
It is normally very difficult to convince most people of a conspiracy, more so when influential sections of the state machinery are involved in such an intrigue. But history has been witness to similar cover-ups earlier. It is also evident that for all the doubts and suspicions raised about all these assassinations and fingers raised in the right direction, the state has succeeded in throwing a blanket over each one of these assassinations. So also in the Rajiv case.
What was the Motive?
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination has been a subject of great fascination and tremendous controversy since he died in the midst of a highly-charged mid-term polls in May1991. To date it generates considerable heat, leaving very little scope for a cool-headed, critical and logical reflection on how it happened and articulation on who could have done it.
The basic principle in probing any crime, particularly a conspiracy with far reaching national and international ramifications, is to look for sound reason, the motive behind the crime, who benefited or stood to benefit from the said act. The conventional police wisdom in murder cases is, that for every murder there has to be a strong logical motive, particularly in a pre-planned conspiracy and unless the real ‘motive’ behind the crime is fully unraveled, you cannot nail the real killers. The Inside Job? looks at the ‘motive’ behind Rajiv’s murder through conventional wisdom.
Just One Footage, One Guard
There is one single, known, footage of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, not made available in the public domain even twenty-five years after the incident. The book, An Inside Job?, looks at the politics of hiding the one known film footage from the public gaze (except for a recent controversial footage on YouTube), and analyses the arguments against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the official Oswald of the Rajiv killing.
At the time of his death, Rajiv was accompanied by a single unarmed Personal Security Officer called PK Gupta, who died along with Rajiv.
This is the name of a novel by a police officer associated with india’s external intelligence agency, RAW, K Mohandas. The book was wriiten two years after Rajiv Gandhi’s death. The book is an allegorical account of the killing, the conspiracy and the cover-up of the murder but you cannot find a copy of this book anywhere in India.
Mohandas has created a villainous character, Father Moonshine. Find out who is Father Moonshine in real life, and many others, from the book, An Inside Job?
RAW never bought the LTTE pitch
India’s external intelligence agency, the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) never believed that Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
We have it on Subramanian Swamy’s authority that from the very beginning, RAW was unwilling to accept that Rajiv’s assassination was a LTTE operation. Swamy writes, ‘At first, the RAW chief had in the first meeting on the early hours of May 22, 1991, resisted reaching this conclusion because he was under the impression that the hardcore Kittu in London was their mole in the LTTE. Kittu was even receiving a monthly stipend from RAW funds!’ There are other reasons why RAW never bought the ‘LTTE responsible’ story. An Inside Job? tells us why RAW has been the only dissenting agency. Does RAW have a yet-unpublicised report on the Rajiv killing?
The State and All the Stories
Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark have in their book, The Meadow, exposed how the Indian state, ‘purchased’ Pakistani jihadi elements and made them kidnap five American and European tourists in the Kashmir valley and eventually get all of them killed to outrage world opinion against Pakistan. The two journalists showed to what extent the Indian state could go in saving or perpetuating its selfish interests.
At least half a dozen books on the Rajiv assassination also lead the discerning reader to conclude how the India state from top to bottom, with all its intelligence agencies and police paraphernalia, connived to perpetrate the myth that the LTTE killed Rajiv of its own volition. An Inside Job exposes all these self-damning accounts.
Written in the Stars?
One very important character, privy to the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi, is the former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan, who seemed to be aware of the planning of the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur. In his biographical account, Seshan: An Intimate Story, he claimed he had astrological forebodings of the impending death lurking around Rajiv Gandhi and warned him. Knowing Seshan, we don’t know whether he actually warned Rajiv or has simply made it up after Rajiv’s death. After all, dead men tell no tales. An Inside Job? undresses the mighty bureaucrat.
Super sleuth Kaarthikeyan
Super sleuth DR Kaarthikeyan starts his account of the Rajiv Gandhi killing investigations in his book, Triumph of Truth: The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination, The Investigation, co-authored with another celebrated cop Radhavinod Raju, his fellow invesgiator in the Special Investigation Team, by making a candid confession: ‘If you want everything to be perfect, if you want to do everything in a manner where there is no scope for lapse, then you would prefer to do nothing…’ So did the modern-day Sherlock Holmes do nothing to script that perfect investigation? An Inside Job? tells you what he and his ally RK Raghavan actually did.
Why did Sivarasan’s decide to stay back after Rajiv’s assassination?
The most disconcerting fact in the whole case constructed by CBI-SIT…is their inability or rather refusal to explain why Sivarasan did not escape to Jaffna by boat, immediately after killing Rajiv Gandhi. The same Sivarasan when he killed EPRLF leader Padmanabha and his associates in Chennai, less than a year earlier, immediately drove off to the seashore, got into waiting speedboat and sailed off to Jaffna next evening, despite apparently enjoying the protection of seemingly sympathetic DMK government.
He stayed back in Chennai after the assassination for a full month and even went sight-seeing to Tirupati in between. Was he on a picnic? The CBI-SIT caught up with him in Bangalore while he was ostensibly moving by road in the direction of Delhi, a risky proposition for a seabird like Sivarasan. What kept him back? Who was he waiting for? Who was he banking upon to provide him a safe haven? Did he fear returning to Jaffna and why?
Chandra Shekhar and Narasimha Rao
If there is one thing that distinguishes the Nehru-Gandhi family, it is their grace and poise and the ability to keep up appearances.
But there are two people whom the Nehru-Gandhis did not care to pay even the minor courtesy of paying obeisance. One was former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, who after 1991 had become a political non-entity. The other was PV Narasimha Rao, who followed Chandra Shekhar as the country’s Prime Minister. Rao died in 2004, a few months after Rao’s protégé Manmohan Singh became the country’s Prime Minister. Yet he and then Andhra Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, enjoying the full confidence of Sonia Gandhi, did not press for Rao’s final rites in his ‘karmabhoomi’, Delhi, indicates that somehow, they sensed the aversion Sonia Gandhi had for Narasimha Rao. An Inside Job? tries to guess why.
Who was Maragatham Chandrasekhar? Who was Lata Priyakumar? Why does she continue to occupy high quasi-official positions, twenty-five years after Rajiv Gandhi’s death? Why are the mother and daughter duo so protected? Who protects them? Were they facilitators? Why would they ever help the killers of their young leader? An Inside Job? looks at the contributions of half a dozen collaborators who were party to one of history’s most heinous crimes.
The Premdasa Factor
Could Lalith Chandrasekhar’s Sinhala wife help shelter a killer contracted by the Sinhala leadership, a Lankan Tamil woman who could easily be linked to the LTTE, in Congress politician Maragtham Chandrasekhar’s house for more than a month? A child’s evidence is not cognisible. But the evidence exists. An Inside Job? looks at bits and pieces of damning evidence, testimonies on record with the two judicial commissions that heard the investigations into the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, to put together a sordid tale of a conspiracy and cover up.
The Investigators and the Judges
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination was simultaneously investigated by two judicial commissions, the Justice JS Verma Commission and Justic MC Jain Commission, as also a Special Investigating Team of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), based on which, the Supreme Court of India awarded death penalty to a group of LTTE sympathisers.
The book, An Inside Job?, takes a hard look at these two commission reports, the SIT evidence and events related to the probe, exposing the deliberate attempt by the probing agencies to look the other way when the truth was staring them in the face.
Today there is all round pressure to let go those languishing in jail for the last twenty-three years, awaiting the noose each day. The government machinery, investigators, judges and custodians, perhaps, all know well that beyond some circumstantial evidence, there is little to actually justify death penalty awarded to those convicted.
Fifteen Years of the MDMA
A Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Authority was set up during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998 to probe the conspiracy angle of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. The courts dictated that its findings would remain and need not be disclosed. Need not be disclosed, although it is a government set up body. Therefore, the MDMA need not account to anyone what it has done or found out in the last fifteen years. Now, the Narendra Modi government is contemplating winding up this CBI sixth finger. An Inside Job? now asks the questions it should have asked.
The LTTE and Rajiv
All along, all those who probed or sat on judgment over the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, summarily pronounced that LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran hatched the conspiracy and sent to Tamil Nadu a suicide mission to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
Why? Because Prabhakaran feared return of Rajiv Gandhi as India’s Prime Minster after he won the 1991 elections.
Analysis of poll results show, his party, the Congress, would not have won. Only his death made the party return to power. The results of the 1991 elections from UP and Bihar, which had the maximum seats (85 and 54), clearly showed how even Rajiv’s assassination failed to register any serious impact on voters in many constituencies. Thus, sans Rajiv’s assassination, it was well nigh impossible for the Congress to return to power in 1991.
Logically, therefore, Prabhakaran did not have to kill Rajiv to prevent his return to power. Even if Rajiv had actually succeeded in forming a government in 1991, there was no way he could have sent back his troops to Sri Lanka to confront the LTTE.
The investigators refused to widen the scope of their probe beyond the much-beaten theory of LTTE-DMK combine being responsible for Rajiv’s killing. An Inside Job? wonders why?
The Politics of the Time
The book, An Inside Job?, explores the politics of the time—which in the author’s perception was responsible for what he describes as a ‘major cover up’ of the real conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.
The 1991 elections were a watershed in the history of Indian politics. The one decision of VP Singh in 1990 to accept the recommendations of the Mandal Commission report, lying unattended for nine years, changed the complexion of the Indian political class.
The Congress party, apparently committed to secularism and conscious of considerable traditional Muslim support, had no plank to counter Mandal wave, unleashed by VP Singh. It depended solely Rajiv Gandhi’s personal charisma, because even though the Congress got defeated in 1989, while the Opposition accused Rajiv of bribery in the Bofors case, his charisma proved strong enough to see the Congress emerge the single largest party with over 200 out of 544 seats in the ninth Lok Sabha. The political fallout of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984 elections demonstrated clearly that her untimely and dastardly death proved a godsend to the electoral fortunes of the Congress party which won over 400 seats under the leadership of her son Rajiv Gandhi, though he was still fresh and untested when he went to polls later that same year.
Most political analysts are aware of this aspect, but have strangely shied away from probing the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi from this angle. This book attempts to look at this dimension of Rajiv’s assassination.
About the Author
Faraz Ahmad is a print journalist of long standing with vast experience of covering crime and politics for several Indian mainstream English dailies, starting with the Indian Express and having worked for The Pioneer, the Deccan Chronicle, the Asian Age and The Tribune of Chandigarh. Having been a crime reporter and a political correspondent covering Parliament, he has taken keen interest in the subaltern politics in India, ever since VP Singh accepted the Mandal Commission report granting reservations for the social and educationally backward communities in India. A Master of English Literature, the author is acerbic in his commentary and spares no one in his academic analysis of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, neither the bureaucrat, nor the politician.
About the Book:
For twenty-three years a myth has been perpetuated that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE because it feared his triumphant return to power at the conclusion of the 1991 general electrons, underway, when Rajiv, out of power was assassinated on 21 May 1991.
But if this basic premise is knocked off and the alternate scenario is shown that the Congress which returned to power in 1991 even after Rajiv’s assassination considerably short of a simple majority, had no chance of returning to power, had Rajiv not been sacrificed thus, then the entire bottom of this myth is knocked off and the whole theory falls flat on its nose.
This is the premise on which everyone starting from CBI-SIT to the Supreme Court and numerous analysts and theorists have built their castles of conspiracy. This book is also about conspiracies and intrigue, but it has attempted to explode this myth and seeks to find why Rajiv was killed if he was not likely to return to power in the 1991 mid-term elections?
An Inside Job?
Publisher: Vitasta Publishing
Related articles across the web