‘Rajiv Gandhi’s Family Cannot Pardon His Killers’
Interview with former DIG, CBI Amod Kanth
Twenty nine years after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by terrorists at an election rally in Sriperumbudur, the fate of his killers on life term is being tossed around between the Governor and the Tamil Nadu cabinet.
The Supreme Court has just extended the parole granted to A G Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the case undergoing life imprisonment by one week.
Last week the Central Bureau of Investigation had told the Supreme Court that it had no objection if he was released as it did not need him for further interrogation.
Now Perarivalan and the other six convicts in the case are hoping that the Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit will take a favourable decision for their release recommended by the Tamil Nadu cabinet which has been pending with him since 2018.
Arrested at the age of 19 Perarivalan's role in the 1991 case that left 15 including Rajiv Gandhi dead and about 43 injured, is that he had supplied the battery for the bomb that Dhanu had planted on her body which blasted her.
With 'Khaki in Dust Storm' the memoirs of Amod K. Kanth the DIG with the CBI who investigated the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, all set to release next month time it's time to find out what he feels about all this.
Kanth spoke to Amitabh Srivastava in an interview. Excerpts:
Q-Mr.Kanth you have written in detail about the investigation which you conducted into the Rajiv Gandhi killing in 1991.How do you feel that even after 29 years that the killers are in the process of seeking release?
A-I can't comment on judicial matters.But let me tell you that we had been able to identify the main conspirators in the assassination, Sivarasan, Dhanu (who blasted herself), Nalini (the main Indian contact who is married to one of the convicts Murugan and has a child from her who recently got married) and Shubha within an year.
Of these, Shubha and Sivarasan later committed suicide while Nalini is still alive.
But the Court had awarded the death sentence to 26 persons in the case, initially.
As you will find out from my book, I was always of the view that any conspiracy with such a high level target as a former Indian Prime Minister cannot be shared by 26 persons.At best, the others could be facilitators or supplying some material or fitting in somewhere in the jig-saw puzzle.But the main actors have to be very limited because of the nature of their target.I still stand by that view. Today the sentences of all of them have been commuted to life sentence.
But after such hard work put in by your team, when the convicts are set to be released sooner or later, does it hurt?
The Supreme Court of India has taken a view that anyone who has been behind bars for so many years needs to be set free. Sushil Sharma was also released last year. We have to go by the law of the land.But in the cases where a Central agency like the CBI has made the arrests, the Supreme Court has to take the consent or concurrence of the agency.That's the law they are following now.
Who is Perarivalan whose case is in court and the Governor has been asked to take a call now? The Tamil Nadu cabinet has pleaded for his pardon but the Governor is not taking a decision either way.
I can't comment on his case.But all I know is that he had been held for supplying the battery which was used in the bomb that blasted Dhanu. But whether he knew about the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi is for the Courts to find out.
Nalini, the main Indian connection who becomes the longest serving woman prisoner in India has been pardoned after Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi said they forgave her.
Whatever their motives for asking for her pardon but I am sorry, I feel that they are no one to forgive her.These convicts are not the killers of just Rajiv Gandhi, 14 policemen on duty were also killed on that day.Some were crippled for life.Has anyone asked their families whether they wanted to forgive the convicts?
From whatever information I have about 'Khaki in Dust Storm' it appears that even though you got all the culprits in the case convicted you seem to have a soft corner for LTTE and Prabhakaran.
No. A crime is a crime for me. There is no compromise there. But as a student of history and political Science I have always tried to go into the socio political factors that gave rise to terrorism be it that of LTTE in Sri Lanka or Bhindrawale and Punjab terrorism in the 80s.
What is the purpose of the Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) which is investigating the 'larger conspiracy' behind the killing of Rajiv Gandhi?They are saying they to find out the 'bows from which the arrows were shot' which killed the young Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
As head of the CBI team which reached the spot of the killing a day after the assassination, literally picking up the pieces, did you feel hampered by the media meddling in the investigation.?
On the contrary, I have throughout my police career where I have investigated complicated cases like the 1984 riots, Transistor bomb cases or the Rajiv Gandhi case, I have always maintained that in the initial stages of the investigation when the police is still trying to tie up the loose ands the media is always much better informed than us.
When I was handed over the Rajiv Gandhi case on one day notice, my first job after reaching Sriperumbudur was to collect all the clippings from the local newspapers.The papers always have multiple sources of information and their input in the initial stages is very helpful till we form our own leads.
So when do we expect to see your book?
As of now the Bloomsbury people have planned November 18 as the date of release of the First Part of my memoirs.Two other parts will come out later.