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Keki N. Daruwalla

TRIUMPH OF TRUTH: THE RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION; THE INVESTIGATION
By D.R. Kaarthikeyan and Radhavinod Raju
New Dawn Press, Chicago, 2005, pp. 261, Rs. 500.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 1 January 2005

On the evening of May 21st I had gone out for dinner after completing a sequence of poems. The last poem was a first draft. I came back and faired it in long hand. It ran: The Messenger Announces At Pasargadae the Terrible News My Lords, both Persian and Mede, rumour precedes horsemen. So I have ridden twenty hours a day to be here amongst you and beat rumour by a length. The army, or its remnants have brought back six kinds of moss, infinite varieties of kelp laughter-leaves which intoxicate when thrown in fire and words of a language looking for a script. And we have brought the body of Cyrus.   The facts were gleaned from none other than Herodotus (including that bit about leaves that caused laughter). The court doesn’t know about the defeat and death of Cyrus the Great. How does the messenger break the news? Hence the earlier irrelevancies, and then the terrible news in six short words. As I faired the poem and got up (close to midnight), the telephone rang. It was from the Cabinet secretariat Control Room. Rajiv Gandhi had been killed in an explosion . The assassination and the carnage all around at Sriperumbudur had taken place at 10.20 P.M. Night is no time for big leaders under active threat to address public meetings. The steps taken by the police were not fool proof. One man even put both his arms around Rajiv Gandhi and got himself photographed! And dedicated killers were stalking him since the advent of the IPKF and still earlier, Prabhakaran’s humiliation in New Delhi.   With Rajiv Gandhi’s murder began one of the most difficult and intricate murder investigations in history. The same would hold good for the trial. The size of the charge-sheet (with accompanying documents) ran into10,000 pages against 26 accused. At the trial 1,477 exhibits and 1,180 material objects were adduced as evidence. The Chief Investigating officer, K. Ragothaman, was in the witness box for 67 days! (This shows why our judicial processes crawl at a snail’s speed!) While cynics will attribute the ‘success’ of the investigation to the Chinon camera ( and hence photographs) left behind by the photographer Hari Babu which identified the assassins and the conspirators, the contribution of the dedicated Special Investigating Team (SIT) under D.R. Kaarthikeyan ( who was Additional DG CRP then) cannot be ignored.   While most of us are au fait ...


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