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Jain Commission Interim Report
Threats to Rajiv Gandhi and his
3 Threat perception to Shri Rajiv Gandhi
Threat perception to Shri Rajiv Gandhi
3 The process of threat assessment to a VIP has been elaborated by the former Director Intelligence Bureau, Shri. V. G. Vaidya during his deposition before the Commission on 17th April, 1996 as follows :-
"The threats are categorised as extremely serious, very serious and serious. The categorisation is done on the basis of intelligence inputs received from various sources and their evaluation by concerned officers of the I.B. The degree of threat is determined on the basis of this evaluation. Intelligence inputs are received in the various branches of I.B. and those having bearing on security of persons is passed on to a unit which studies VIP security matters. .....Threat assessment to various protected persons is reviewed periodically. The periodicity is about three months. At the same time it does not preclude us from reviewing in between these three months. The threat to a person emanates either due to personal animosity or grudge against him as an individual or by virtue of the position, Constitutional or otherwise which he holds. The degree of the eminence of the protected person and immediacy are among the considerations to decide the category of the protected person."
3.1 The role of the two Central Intelligence Agencies in assessment of the threat perception to a VIP is crucial. While the role of the Intelligence Bureau is to convey the threat perception as well as the guidelines laying down parameters for meeting the threat to the State Governments, the R & AW provides the information and assessment about the threat to security when an Indian VIP goes abroad; It also assesses threat perception to Indian VIPs emanating from foreign countries including militant groups based in foreign countries.
3.2 Coming to the threat perception of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, available material before the Commission clearly points out the fact that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, soon after he entered political life in the early eighties, became the potential target of Sikh extremists due to their hostility towards his mother Smt. Indira Gandhi. Threats to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi existed from these elements even before he became the Prime Minister of India by the virtue of his being the son of late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. The 'Operation Blue Star' was the turning point after which the hostility of the Sikh extremist and secessionist elements became personalised and specific against the Gandhi family.
3.2.1 Justice Thakkar Commission of Inquiry which went into the matters relating to the assassination of late Smt. Indira Gandhi, has made the following observations in its Final Report, which trace the genesis of the threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi :-
Final Report of Justice Thakkar Commission of Inquiry (Page 11)
1.2.6. Threats Uttered:
On June 12,1984 in London Dr.Jagjit Singh Chauhan was interviewed on BBC Radio-4 in the programme entitled "World at one". In the course of interview the interviewer asked:-
" Do you actually want to see the downfall of Mrs.Gandhi's Government?"
Sri Chauhan answered:-
" You will see the Sikh history if anybody in the history who has touched this holy place was never left alive and I tell you today you may not call it a prophecy. But within a few days you will have the news that Mrs.Gandhi and her family has been beheaded.....it will happen, that is history....."
3.2.2 Former Prime Minister, Shri. Narasimha Rao, while deposing before the Commission, spoke about the threats which arose in respect of Rajiv Gandhi as son of the then Prime Minister late Smt. Indira Gandhi in the context of the decisions taken by Smt. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. He stated :-
(Deposition of Shri. P.V. Narasimha Rao dt. 07.05.1997)
"She had to take some hard decisions as P.M. in the national interest including Operation Blue Star. After the event of Operation Blue Star her threat scenario increased, not only increased for herself but also for her family members, including Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The consideration which was going on during her time became much more after her assassination. November riots further increased the threat scenario of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi and his family members..."
3.2.3 Shri. R. Vasudevan, former Special Secretary to the PM, in his deposition before the Commission on 16th April, 1996, has stated that :-
".......... as far as the Sikh militants are concerned, there was a special background, of Operation Blue Star and the November 1984 riots. The threats were personally to him.". 12
This has been further amplified by Shri. V.G. Vaidya, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, who, in his deposition before the Commission on 18th April, 1996, has stated that :-
"....Even when Smt. Indira Gandhi was alive after Operation Blue Star, there were threats to the lives of members of her family including Rajiv Gandhi. The annoyance against Shri Rajiv Gandhi of Sikh militants was there even before he took over as Prime Minister...."
In his deposition dated 3rd. April, 1996, before the Commission, Shri. B.G. Deshmukh, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, narrated how this threat accentuated over a period of time when Shri. Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister. He states :-
(Page 6) "The assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi was as a result of annoyance of some group. This annoyance continued when Sh, Rajiv Gandhi took over as PM. So long as I remained in office I can say that the bad feeling continued against Rajiv Gandhi and his family members. ..The threat to Rajiv's life continued till the date of his assassination."
A threat perception report prepared by the Intelligence Bureau on 3rd. January, 1990, traces the genesis of the threats to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi in unequivocal terms. As per this report :-
(DO letter No 29/VS/89(1)-10 dated 03.01.90 taken from the file 29/VS/89(1) -P. 54 and 55)(Annesure S-31)
"Threat to the security of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi ........arose in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star. It was reiterated in the Sarabat Khalsa Samagam held in the Golden Temple complex on Jan.26, 1986 where Shri Rajiv Gandhi, along with Smt. Indira Gandhi, was held responsible for committing excesses on the Sikhs including the demolition of the Akal Takhat building. Sikh extremists also held Shri Rajiv Gandhi responsible for anti- Sikh riots of November 1984 and lack of adequate follow-up action against all those who were alleged to have instigated and abetted the riots...."
3.3 After he became Prime Minister of India, and took concrete steps to stem the fissiparous tendencies, which were assuming dangerous dimensions, in order to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the country, he came on the hit list of all hostile and secessionist forces operating within and outside the country. Decisions taken by him as Prime Minister of India increased this hostility. Besides Sikh militants, other Indian as well as outside extremist and secessionist elements started perceiving him as a stumbling block towards achievement of their objectives. Threats to his life during this period increased manifold. Deposing before the Commission on 3rd. April, 1996, Shri. B.G. Deshmukh, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, stated :-
"......Shri. Gandhi made effort to bring about peace in Sri Lanka. Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was interested in maintaining territorial sovereignty and integrity of Sri Lanka. IPKF was sent on the request of President J.R. Jayawardhane. Efforts were made to bring Shri. Prabhakaran and to involve LTTE in talks. Prema Dasa was unhappy about sending of IPKF to Sri Lanka. Accord was not acceptable to LTTE. LTTE was unhappy with Indian Govt. and with Rajiv Gandhi being the Head of the Government. Tamil reports started pouring in that LTTE is opposed to Rajiv Gandhi and are hostile to him. "
"There was a demand for independent Khalistan by the Sikh militants and there was a demand for Tamil Eelam by LTTE. In North East there were also militant groups demanding autonomy but in case of Nagaland they wanted separate Naga State. In J & K also there was a demand for separate Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister had curbed these demands besides Eelam which was beyond India. He was not a supporter of Eelam........"
The increasing hostility of extremist, secessionist forces against Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, while he was the Prime Minister, is also spoken by Shri. M. K. Narayanan, former Director, Intelligence Bureau. In his deposition before the Commission on November 2, 1996, he states :-
"During the vast majority of his tenure the principal threat to Rajiv's security came from Sikh terrorists followed later by Tamil militants maybe LTTE and towards the end of his tenure militants from J & K and some terrorist groups from the Northeastern States."
This view finds further corroboration from the depositions of the following officers before this Commission :-
Deposition of Shri. R. Vasudevan, former Special Secretary, PMO dt. 16th April 1996
(Page 5) : "There were threats of Sikh militants, LTTE, JKLF, ULFA, all these militant organisations to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. Militants were against the establishment... Similarly there was threat perception from the Sri Lankan sources. The threat from JKLF and ULFA to Rajiv's life as Prime Minister...."
Deposition of Shri. V.G. Vaidya, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, dt. 18th April 1996 :-
"....The threats to Shri Rajiv Gandhi were repeated following the execution of Shri Satwant Singh and Shri Kehar Singh. It is well known that Shri Rajiv Gandhi faced threats from Sikh militants. The execution of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh further intensified the hostility towards Rajiv Gandhi. "
The threat assessment report of the Intelligence Bureau dated 3rd. January, 1990,( Annexure S-31) also emphasised this aspect. The report states :-
" Threats to the life of Shri.Rajiv Gandhi and his family were again reiterated after Operation Black Thunder, and the hanging of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh. Threatening letters and intelligence reports about the thinking and plans of Sikh extremists to cause harm to the then Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, were also received from time to time."
3.4 After the General Elections of 1989, Shri. Rajiv Gandhi became the leader of the Opposition in December 1989. As former Prime Minister, with a reduced security cover, he became a soft target of these hostile forces and his position became more vulnerable than ever. The threats on his life which existed even before he became the Prime Minister, and were accentuated due to his actions as the Prime Minister, became even graver in this scenario. The threat assessment made by Intelligence Bureau on 3rd. January, 1990, for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi focuses upon this aspect. Relevant extracts are reproduced below :-
(DO letter No 29/VS/89(1)-10 dated 03.01.90 taken from the file 29/VS/89(1) -P. 54 and 55)(Annexure T-31)
In Oct.'89 Gurmez Singh Gill of Babbar Khalsa, UK threatened that Shri Rajiv Gandhi would not be spared even if he was defeated in the General Elections. Recently, a talk has been reported among the Sikhs in UK that Sikh extremists have freshly targeted Shri Rajiv Gandhi.... According to another unconfirmed report, H.S. Sandhu, General Secretary, AISSF informally mentioned recently that the Sikhs would need to enact a bigger drama than the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi. He hinted at the possibility of one of the Panthic MPs indulging in terrorist act inside Parliament and whose target could be Rajiv Gandhi and H.K.L.Bhagat. Sikh extremists in Punjab are also reported to be planning to send armed terrorists to Delhi to 'punish ' those responsible for 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Shri Rajiv Gandhi may also be one of their targets. It is,thus evident that threat to the security of Rajiv Gandhi and his family members from Sikh extremists continues to be very high."
3.5 In retrospect, this was the most crucial period as far as the threats to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi were concerned. It was during this period that he was perceived to be most vulnerable to threats to his life from hostile elements; however, while assessing the threat perception to him in this crucial phase, the security experts appear to have followed a fallacious notion which led them to conclude, despite indicators to the contrary, that threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had diminished after he had ceased to be the Prime Minister of India. This is evident from the following evidence tendered before this Commission :-
3.5.1 Shri. K.N. Thakur, former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, during his deposition before the Commission on 25th April, 1996 has enunciated the principle of assessing threat perception to the Prime Minister and ex-Prime Minister as follows :-
"..threat to the Prime Minister consists of two parts. One part relates to the office of the Prime Minister and the second part relates to the person who occupies that position. In case of the ex-Prime Minister, the first part was no longer present. To that extent the threat perception in respect of the Prime Minister had diminished. ....In respect of the Prime Minister, the Thakkar Commission of Inquiry which had inquired into the assassination of Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi had defined a security principle that the threat perception in a democracy is highest to the office of the Prime Minister whoever may occupy this office. Justice Thakkar stated in his report that ` in a democracy the life of a Prime Minister is not his or her own. It is held in trust by him or her on behalf of the nation, for the nation has a vital stake in the security of the Prime Minister.The direction in which the nation is moving, its economic policies, its foreign policy and its very security and the very independence of the nation can be jeopardised by the forced removal of the Prime Minister from office, otherwise than through democratic process....."
3.5.2 Regarding threat perception to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Shri. V.G. Vaidya deposed as follows :-
"Shri Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister was the most threatened individual in the country till he demitted office." (Statement dt. 17th April 1996)
"After demitting office of Prime Ministership by Rajiv Gandhi, he continued to have extremely serious threats. He was the most threatened person amongst the people not holding office after demitting office as Prime Minister." (Statement dt. 18th April 1996, pages 6-7 )
"The threats faced by Shri Rajiv Gandhi after demitting office of Prime Minister correspondingly reduced in relation to those which emanated by virtue of his having been the Prime Minister.
3.5.3 As per the deposition of Shri. K.N. Thakur before the Commission on 26th April 1996 :
"Among national level leaders, our perception was that the threat to Shri Rajiv Gandhi was at no. 3 after the incumbent Prime Minister and the incumbent President."
3.5.4 The bureaucrats dealing with the subject at that time have been ambivalent about this crucial aspect of threat perception. Shri. B.G. Deshmukh, the then Principal Secretary to PM, has chosen to blindly accept the views of the security experts. On this aspect, he deposed before the Commission on 2nd. April, 1996, and stated :-
"I trusted the proposal which emerged from the Cabinet Secretariat meeting as it was based on the assessment made by the Intelligence agencies......It is difficult to say whether threat to the life of Shri Rajiv Gandhi after demitting office was reduced or not. I cannot make a categorical statement. I will have to depend on the assessment of the intelligence agencies."
3.5.5 Shri. V.P. Singh, during his deposition before the Commission has fallen back on the assessments of these bureaucrats and security experts and propagated the same theory as is evident from the following extract of his deposition :-
01.11.1996 PAGE 9 : " As regards level of threat, its evaluation and calibration... the depositions before the Commission, K.N.Thakur and Mr.Vaidya and Mr.Deshmukh who have had long experience in security matters and in Government, have categorically deposed that the level of threat to Shri Rajiv Gandhi was reduced after demitting office."
3.5.6 The bureaucrats and security experts who have propounded this line of thinking appear to have turned a deaf ear to the ground realities. The observations of the Thakkar Commission have been used by Shri. K.N. Thakur to justify his contention that the threat perception for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had decreased after he ceased to be the Prime Minister. In his deposition dated 25th April, 1996, he states :-
"....On this basis and the principle followed on the VIP security matters, the threat to the security of the incumbent Prime Minister was assessed as the highest. For the ex-Prime Minister it was assessed that he still faced threat of personal vendetta from different terrorists and disgruntled elements and organisations."
3.5.7 However, what he has chosen to ignore is the overwhelming information which goes to show that the threats which Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had become exposed to before becoming the Prime Minister, and as Prime Minister, continued to exist without any diminution; on the other hand, after he ceased to be the Prime Minister, in the eyes of the hostile elements, he was perceived as more vulnerable, and a soft target especially in the light of the publicity that SPG protection had been withdrawn from him. According to a threat perception incorporated in letter No40/JA/90-716 dated 06.02.90 (file No 29/VS/89(1) of IB on the subject "Threat Assessment in respect of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Ex- Prime Minister and his family members) (Annexure S-48)it has been categorically stated that :-
"4. The Sikh extremists have been able to hit their targets in the past successfully with the help of high calibre weapons..., determination of their cadres and sophistication in the techniques and tactics now acquired by them. The shifting of Rajiv Gandhi to the new residence at 10, Janpath and the wide publicity to the withdrawal of the SPG personnel from his security given in the media is likely to make him more vulnerable to the Sikh extremist threat. Perceiving that the scale of security now round the former Prime Minister may be less impregnable, the terrorist outfits would now definitely feel encouraged to plan an action against him or his family members. Such an action, apart from giving considerable mileage to the concerned terrorist group, would also cause serious embarrassment to the present Government."
3.6 This is further reinforced by other witnesses, who have clearly deposed that the threat to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had actually increased after he demitted office.
Shri. P.V. Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister, while deposing before the Commission, categorically stated that :-
(Deposition of Shri. P.V. Narasimha Rao dt. 07.05.1997)
"There were two factors for the security of Shri. Gandhi, one as Prime Minister and one Rajiv as son of the PM and when he ceased to be the Prime Minister it was not correct to suppose that the threat would be less. That part of the threat that was more dangerous..remained. Hanging of Kehar Singh and Satwant Singh....further increased the threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi......there were reports of planning to assassinate Shri. Rajiv Gandhi in India and abroad. Even after demitting office by him...there were such reports for his assassination."
Shri. Chandrashekhar, former PM, while deposing before the Commission, on 26.04.94 stated that :-
"It is true that threat to the life of Rajiv Gandhi even after he demitted office was very grave."
As per the deposition of Shri. S. B. Chavan, former Union Home Minister of India, given before this Commission on 15th January, 1997, .lm 15
"Even after demitting the office of the Prime Minister, the threat to his life increased".
This view has also been endorsed by Shri. Naresh Chandra, former Union Home Secretary, who has deposed before the Commission on 21st. June, 1996 as follows :-
"There were RAW reports in respect of threats to the life of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Even after demitting office of PM, Shri Rajiv Gandhi remained a most threatened person."
3.6.1 Reports from various field units of the Intelligence Bureau - from Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra as well as Tamil Nadu - during this period categorically indicated an increase in the threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi as a result of his laying down the charge of the Premiership. An extremely vital input regarding enhanced threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi after he demitted charge is seen in a message sent by Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Madras, to the IB HQs. on 12th December, 1989, days after Shri. Rajiv Gandhi handed over charge as Prime Minister. The report from SIB, Madras, relevant excerpts of which are reproduced below, categorically stated that threat perception to the security of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had, in fact, increased from hostile Sri Lankan Tamil elements and Indian Tamil chauvinists after he ceased to be the Prime Minister.
(Telex message sent by Madras office of IB to IB Hqrs Delhi - File No 29/VS/89(1) Page No 30. on the " THREAT ASSESSMENT SHRI. RAJIV GANDHI, EX- PM 0n 12.12.89.)(Annexure S-17)
3. "Following Indo Sri Lanka Accord ..on Sri Lankan Tamil issue, the leadership of LTTE and cadres turned more violent and hostile in their attitude towards Rajiv Gandhi. .....
........................................... 5. The spectre of threat to the person of Rajiv Gandhi and his family members from various elements ....appears to loom large more at present than when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country till recently."
3.6.2 On the Punjab front, a threat assessment to the security of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi made by the field unit of the Intelligence Bureau, Amritsar, reported that he remained at the top of the hit list of Sikh extremists. The Telex message(Annexure S-19) dated 11.12.89 sent by this unit to IB HQs states :-
"Sh Rajiv Gandhi former Prime Minister, continues to be on the top of the hit list of extremist outfits like KCF, KLF, BTFK, Babbar Khalsa, fundamentalists owing allegiance to Dam Dami Taksal and AISSF militants for his inaction against those who were responsible for Anti Sikh riots of 1984 and for the alleged repressive measures adopted by the Govt. led by him ......."
3.6.3 Similarly, a threat perception assessment received by IB HQs from its field unit, SIB/ Bombay, on 11th. December, 1989, categorically held the view that :- (Annexure S-18)
2. "...as per our assessment the threat to the lives of Shri Rajiv Gandhi and his family members persists to the same degree as when he was PM. The Sikh extremists may feel encouraged to attack Rajiv Gandhi in the huge that the security around him would not be stringent any longer.
3.6.4 Threat perception assessment which was furnished by the field unit SIB, Jaipur, to the IB HQs. on 14th December, 1989, (Annexure S-20) was categorical in assessing that :-
2. "Threat to the ex-PM from the Sikh extremists in India and abroad remains unchanged......
3. With down-gradation of the physical security arrangement for the ex-PM, the possibility of hostile elements making attempts on his person would further increase. Rpt further increase. ...."
3.6.5 It becomes clear that , the increase in this personal threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi after he demitted charge as Prime Minister, far outweighed the perceived reduction, if at all, in the element of threats which were linked to the office of the Prime Minister. In totality of the circumstances, whichever way we choose to see it, the overall threat to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had actually increased after he had ceased to remain the Prime Minister of India.
3.7 As a matter of fact, available material amply indicates that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, when he went out of power and ceased to be the Prime Minister of India in December 1989, faced a much higher level of threats than even the incumbent Prime Minister of that time Shri. V.P. Singh. Shri. M. K. Narayanan, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, during his deposition before this Commission has put forward this information. In his deposition dated 20th November 1995 before this Commission, he stated as follows :-
"After demission of office by Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, threats to his life remained high, if not higher. Threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was much higher than threat to Shri. V.P. Singh till he became the Prime Minister. Even after V.P. Singh became Prime Minister, the level of threat to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was higher compared to Shri. V.P. Singh."
Shri. B.G. Deshmukh, while deposing on this subject before this Commission, on 3rd. April, 1996, has categorically stated that :
"I am not aware of any threat to the life of Shri V.P. Singh before he became the Prime Minister. I cannot conceive of any militant groups having become inimical to him before he became Prime Minister. Threat to his life began when he occupied the Office of Prime Minister."
3.8 One of the most eloquent comparative assessment was given by R&AW vide their letter dated December 9, 1989, after Shri. V.P. Singh had become the Prime Minister. (EXHIBIT NO.267)(Annexure S-23). This is an assessment regarding the likely threats to the security of Prime Minister Shri V.P.Singh and Shri Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister. The assessment shows that whereas there was no specific information regarding the threat to Shri. V.P. Singh, threats against Rajiv Gandhi continued to be specific and grave even after he had demitted the office of the Prime Minister. This assessment also shows that the threat perception to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, as ex- Prime Minister was higher than that of Shri. V.P. Singh, as Prime Minister. The assessment is reproduced below :-
"Subject: Likely threats to the Security of Prime Minister Shri V.P.Singh and Shri Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister
(I) Likely threats to the Security of Prime Minister Shri V.P.Singh
We have had no reports of any threats uttered specifically by any of the extremist elements abroad, whether they be from the Sikh extremist organisations or from the JKLF or from any other organization of Kashmiri expatriates from POK or from Nepali groups or from any of the Tamil or Sinhalese extremists groups of Sri Lanka or from the Anand Marg against Shri V.P.Singh....
(a) The various extremist organisations abroad, particularly those of the Sikh extremists as well as of Kashmiri expatriate elements from the POK, look upon the Government of India and the Hindu community as their principal adversaries. Therefore, anyone who occupies the position of the leader of the Government of India would automatically attract their attention and anger..... This would also be true to some extent in case of Sinhalese and Tamil extremist organisations from Sri Lanka as well as Nepalese elements.........
(b) Many of the Sikh extremist elements abroad had given a call for the boycott of the elections held recently in the Punjab and had also threatened to organise acts of violence during the election campaign in order to disrupt the elections. They could not execute their plans and their call for boycott did not affect the successful holding of the elections. Many of these extremist organisations are not yet willing to consider any solution of the Punjab problem other than the one based on the creation of 'Khalistan'. They might, therefore, be interested in maintaining the present tempo of violent activities in the Punjab in future also in the hope of thereby scuttling any efforts made by the Akali elements and the followers of Simranjit Singh Mann to find a political solution to the problem. Some of their plans for acts of violence in this connection might be directed against Shri V.P.Singh though presently there is no specific information of any such act contemplated against the new PM.
(II) Likely threats to the security of Shri Rajiv /Gandhi, the former Prime Minister
3. The threat to the security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi from the Sikh extremist organisations would continue to be very high despite his leaving office following the elections. This is due to the following reasons:
(a) Many Sikh extremist elements abroad and vowed, after Operation Blue Star, to avenge the operation by having Mrs. Indira Gandhi as well as her entire family physically eliminated. Similar threats against Shri Rajiv Gandhi and his family have been uttered from time to time since then. . . .............. ... They attribute to Shri Rajiv Gandhi part of the responsibility for Operation Blue Star and for the anti-Sikh riots which had erupted in some places after the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi and also for the hanging of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh......
(b) Even before the recent general elections, Gurmej Singh Gill of the Babbar Khalsa, UK, had threatened on October 31, 1989, that Shri Rajiv Gandhi would be in trouble from the Sikhs as he was "a criminal responsible for the deaths of many innocent Sikhs and Muslims". He had also threatened that even if Shri Rajiv Gandhi was defeated in the elections, the Sikh community in India would not let him go unpunished "for his crimes".
4. There has recently been increasing cooperation between the Sikh extremist organisations abroad and the JKLF and other organisations of Kashmiri expatriates from the POK. All these organisations share a common anger against Shri Rajiv Gandhi. The Kashmiri organisations from the POK may hold him responsible for the recent developments in J&K including the arrest of Shabir Shah of the People's League and of a number of trained cadres of the JKLF. Similarly, there is likely to be anger amongst Muslim fundamentalist elements abroad over the communal riots in Bihar before the general elections and over the developments connected with the Babri Masjid issue.
5. Until India's relations with Nepal and Sri Lanka improve significantly, the extremist Sinhalese and Tamil elements from Sri Lanka as well as Nepali elements from Nepal are also likely to continue to nurse a grievance against Shri Rajiv Gandhi.
6. For these reasons,, it would be necessary to continue to provide effective protection against possible threats to life not only in the case of Shri Rajiv Gandhi but also to his wife and two children. "
3.9 This threat assessment of R&AW, unfortunately, has still not been taken in the spirit in which it was meant. On the other hand, the threat perception appears to have been deliberately downplayed. Deposing before the Commission on 25th April, 1996, Shri. K. N. Thakur, former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, attempted to undermine the threat assessment of the R&AW by interpreting technical jargon and defining that the expression 'Very High' used in the threat assessment report of the R&AW actually meant provision of only Z category security to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi as defined in the Yellow Book. He stated :-
"This report records in para 3 that the threat to the security of Shri Rajiv Gandhi from the Sikh extremist organisation would continue to be 'very high' despite his leaving office .... The words 'very high' means "category Z" as defined in the Yellow Book regarding the security of dignitaries. R&AW does not prescribe the threat level, it only gives only threat assessment and it gives threat assessment in the light of the Yellow Book and expressions used in the Yellow Book are so used in threat assessment reports."
However, during the same deposition, he contradicted himself by stating that :-
"The threat assessment report of R&AW does not make mention of security principle or the security level based on demitting of office by him. The R&AW report does not make mention of the objective principle of threat to the protected persons ....because security principle is not their charter. Yellow book is the charter of I.B. and State Police.... . . "Very High threat" is only "Z" category "Very Very "is" Z plus"....."
The above statement implies that the R&AW could not possibly have recommended the level of security since it was not their charter. The fault, therefore, lies with the narrow interpretation of the term 'Very High' by the Intelligence Bureau itself in equating the threat level to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi to Category Z merely due to the use of the expression 'very high' and thereby missing the very essence of the message which was attempted to be conveyed by this message.
The specious logic of this argument gets further reinforced by the fact that the threat perception reports for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi furnished by the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau units ( excerpted earlier) have used quite strong and categorical expressions. It may be seen that the report of SIB Amritsar dt. 11th December, 1989, unequivocally stated that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi continued to remain 'on the top of the hit list' of the Sikh extremists. This implies that as far as the Sikh militants were concerned, he was the no. 1 target - above the incumbent Prime Minister. Similarly, the report of the SIB, Madras, dated. 12the December, 1989, has stated that 'the spectre of threat to the person of Rajiv Gandhi and his family members from various elements ....appears to loom large more at present.' These reports of the IB, whose charter was formulation of security arrangements, unanimously point out the gravity of the threat to the person of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi and emphatically contradict the narrow interpretation of security requirements taken by Shri. K.N. Thakur. .
3.10 During the period in 1990 -1991, when Congress (I) supported Government headed by Prime Minister Shri. Chandrashekhar was in power in the Centre, some hostile forces, particularly the LTTE continued to hold him responsible for some actions in India which affected them. Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was perceived to have influenced the decisions of the Chandrashekhar's Government when the DMK Government was dismissed in Tamil Nadu in January, 1991, and there was a crackdown on the LTTE leaders and cadres operating from the State. This made him further vulnerable to the hostile forces.
3.11 These hostile elements became desperate when the elections were announced once again and the prospects of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi coming back as the Prime Minister became brighter. This was the general perception and it added a new dimension to his threat perception. Several renewed attempts were contemplated on his life during this period. The threat to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was further accentuated when he began extensive election tours of the country for election campaigning.
Shri S.B. Chavan, former Union Home Minister of India deposed before the panel and, reinforced the perception that there existed inimical forces who were seriously apprehensive of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi returning to power once again. In his deposition dated 2nd. January, 1997, he has stated :-
"I cannot possibly say that there is a running thread in the assassinations of Smt. Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi but there is no denying the fact that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was emerging as the dynamic leader of the country having a vision of taking India into 21st. century and also he was very much interested in seeing that all non-aligned countries remained together and they are able to make a common cause and that is why super power or powers were interested in seeing that such a force which can unite all the non aligned countries , this situation, should not be allowed to continue and Rajiv Gandhi was going to take as Prime Minister after the elections. That was the opinion poll which clearly indicated that he was to be the Prime Minister."
Shri. B.G. Deshmukh, former Principal Secretary to PM, corroborated this during his deposition before the Commission on 3rd. April, 1996. He stated :-
"......After election in 1991 all of us thought that he would come as Prime Minister. Those who were opposed to Shri Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, their activities should have increased against him during election time." .lm 12
Kasi Anandan, a member of the Central Committee of the LTTE, now based in Madras, was examined by the Commission. His perception, naturally, reflects the thinking of the LTTE of that time. It is further confirmed by his statement that the hostile elements were keeping a keen watch on the political developments of the country at that time. According to his deposition recorded by the Commission on 10th September, 1996 :-
" Possibility of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi coming into power was there...... There was a trend that Rajiv Gandhi might be coming to power and before assassination it was almost clear that Rajiv Gandhi would come to power."
3.12 From the above, it can reasonably be concluded that the threat perception to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi can be categorised into following periods:-
(i) May 1981 to October, 1984 i.e. after Shri. Rajiv Gandhi entered politics and before he took over as the Prime Minister of India;
(ii) 31st October, 1984 till 2nd. November, 1989, i.e during the period he remained as Prime Minister of India;
(iii) 2nd November, 1989 till 21st May, 1991 i.e. after he demitted office and till he was assassinated;
3.13 This wealth of information available to the Government at the relevant point of time should be read with the security assessment by security experts. The threat perception for an individual and the guiding principles of security should have been the only determinants of the level and nature of security required to be provided to the threatened person. In this case, it is amply clear that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was the most threatened individual in the country as Prime Minister, and became even more threatened after demitting charge as Prime Minister. This was because, threats to him were personal and being held out by determined group of terrorists who nursed perceived grievances against him.
Coming to the crucial guiding factor of security, the following extract of deposition of Shri. K.N. Thakur, Jt. Director, Intelligence Bureau, dated 25th April, 1996, assumes significance :-
"No security system in the world is fool-proof. On two occasions that I recollect, once in India during Justice Mathew Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Shri Lalit Narain Mishra, it was stated in the report of the Commission that fool-proof security is a myth which can be conceived if the VIP is completely locked. Secondly, Justice Warren Commission when inquiring into the assassination of President Kennedy, asked the Chief of Security to the President at the time that according to American perception, if the assassin is determined to get at the President, sooner or later, he will succeed; to this the security Chief replied that his task was to create barriers of security between the assassin and the target whereby he will be protected. The security set up of Israel, of U.S.President of Germany, of France and U.K. are considered excellent....."
The former Foreign Secretary of India, Shri. J. N. Dixit, while deposing before the Commission on 11th April, 1996, corroborated this view. He stated :-
"Based on my long experience in the Government of India, even the most fool-proof security arrangement can be defeated by a single determined terrorist or violent person."
3.14 Therefore, what was needed at that time in terms of security requirements of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was making available for his security an effective, dedicated, committed, well trained, modern, flexible and dynamic security system, which could effectively "create barriers of security between the assassin and the target" whereby he would have been protected.
It is obvious that this did not happen and Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was most brutally assassinated despite such incriminating forewarnings of impending danger.
A detailed discussion regarding security cover provided to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi and its adequacy and effectiveness is a subject matter relating to security arrangements and, therefore, has been done in the succeeding chapter dealing with security.
3.15 The aspect of threat perception of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi has been examined in detailed during the Inquiry conducted by Justice J.S. Verma in the context of determining security lapses and whether the assassination could have been averted. Categorical findings with regard to the threat perception are found in the report of Justice Verma Commission. With regard to calibration and assessment of the threat perception for an individual, which ultimately forms the basis of determining the level of required security for him, the Justice Verma Commission has unequivocally come to the following conclusions :-
17.13 "...It is the threat faced by a person as a result of his official acts performed while serving the nation which must form the basis for prescribing the security for him even after he demits office, the holding of office being only one element and not a decisive factor. ...
17.17 The security cover to the protected person must be commensurate with the threat perception for the protected person and not invariably related only to the office held by the protected person which is merely one element and not decisive in threat assessment.
PORTION DELETED FOR SECURITY REASONS............................................. ...........................................
17.49 (7) The security prescribed for a protected person should be commensurate with the assessment of the total threat perception of him and the holding of a public office at the time should only be one of the factors for assessment of the total threat perception but not decisive of the level of protection needed on the basis of the total perception.
3.16 Regarding the threat perception for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, Justice J.S. Verma has, after conducting a detailed and thorough Inquiry into each aspect of the matter, given the following categorical observations :-
RESPONSIBILITY FOR RAJIV GANDHI'S SECURITY
(Page 40) para 9.14 -
"It was common ground that from the time Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister by a quirk of tragic fate on the assassination of his mother Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own security men on October 31, 1984 till he was assassinated at Sriperumbudur on My 21, 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was the most highly threatened person in the country. It was for Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, in view of the very high threat to him, that the Special Protection Group was constituted which had been trained specially to provide protection to Rajiv Gandhi against threat to him from the several sources. This threat to him and the number of sources, from which it emanated, did not decrease at any time but in fact increased on account of certain duties he performed as Prime Minister. The perception of the I.B. and those concerned with Rajiv Gandhi's security appears to have been that the S.P.G. cover to him or its suitable alternative should continue even after he ceased to be the Prime Minister in November 1989 on account of the continuing undiminished threat to him."
3.17 The adequacy, or otherwise, of the security cover provided to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, the various considerations which went into the formulation of the security arrangements and analysis of the various causal factors influencing the level of security to Shri. Rajiv Gandhi which cumulatively led to a situation where, at the time of assassination, the security system could not respond at all to the threat, have been dealt with in detail in the succeeding chapter.
3.18 Dealing with specific threats from various hostile forces who posed grave danger to the life of Shri. Rajiv Gandhi at some point or the other, it becomes necessary to categorise the sources of threats. The sources from where threat perceptions for Shri. Rajiv Gandhi originated, during the entire period of his political life, have been categorised and dealt with in details below. Available material before the Commission suggests that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was facing extremely grave threats from Sri Lankan Tamil militants and their Indian sympathisers, fanatic Sinhala elements of Sri Lanka, Sikh terrorists operating from Punjab as well as foreign countries, Kashmiri militant groups operating from India as well as foreign countries, Afghan Mujahideens, Islamic fundamentalists from Pakistan, certain groups within the Government of Pakistan, Some groups connected with the Royal family of Nepal, terrorist elements operating from North Eastern India, notably ULFA and aggrieved individual elements. There were also hints of certain outside powers involving themselves with some of these hostile forces.