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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
-
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination - the Verdict >Who really killed Rajiv Gandhi? - Norman Baker  1992 >  Rajiv Gandhi - the Secret Trial - Nadesan Satyendra, 1992 > Rajiv Gandhi's Assassination: Transnational Connections - Major General  Asfir Karim, 1993 > Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: Highlights of Complex Plot, India Today Report, 1996 > Jain Commission Report on Rajiv Gandhi Assassination 1997 > Prabhu Chawla on Jain Commission Report, 1997 > India's lack on grit on Tamil Tigers led to Rajiv assassination says Jyotindra Nath Dixit, 1997 > Who killed Olof Palme and Rajiv Gandhi?, 1997 > International appeals against verdict in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Trial, 1998/99 > Accused in Rajiv case not given fair Trial - Law Committee, 1999  > Triumph of Truth The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination The Investigation, by D.R.Kaarthikeyan and Radhavinod Raju - Book Review by Sachi Sri Kantha, 2004

India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

Prabhu Chawla on Jain Commission Report
India Today, 17 November 1997


Quite  unknown to it, the United Front (UF) Government has been living on  borrowed time since Justice Milap Chand Jain ceremonially presented  his 17-volume interim report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination to Home  Minister Indrajit Gupta on August 28. The commission had been asked to  look into the circumstances of and the conspiracy leading to Rajiv's  murder.

Jain's findings are not unexpected, but their explosive confirmation  threatens to trigger a chain reaction that could shatter reputations,  forge realignments and even bring down the fragile government of Inder  Kumar Gujral.

In the corridors of power, the Jain report on the May 21, 1991,  assassination in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, is already causing  convulsions. When it came up for discussion in the Cabinet after it  was presented, no minister was willing to take a stand on it. To be  precise, all of them wanted to defer discussion indefinitely. Even  Gupta decided to wash his hands off this incendiary device by  suggesting that the Cabinet refer the report to a committee of  secretaries, drawn from the ministries of home, defence, external  affairs and the Research and Analysis Wing, for study. Though Gupta  has put up a brave front with assurances that the report will be  tabled in Parliament on November 19, the first day of the winter  session, his advice to Gujral was simple: stall or prepare to depart.

The prime minister can instinctively hear the time bomb ticking away,  a reason why the report has not figured on the agenda of UF Steering  Committee meetings. The 5,280 page report, comprising eight volumes of  interim findings and nine volumes of annexures bound in black rexine,  holds Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his DMK responsible  for abetting Rajiv Gandhi's murderers. Also blamed are two former  prime ministers, V.P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar, for their laxity in  assessing the threat to Rajiv.

The report has made uncharitable remarks about Finance Minister P.  Chidambaram, criticising him for supping with the devil in the cause  of political expediency. "I am fully satisfied with my interim report  and what it contains." said Jain, "Each one of my conclusions and  observations is based on documents on record with the commission."  Jain took over 66 months to submit his first report, after examining  110 witnesses, including political luminaries, bureaucrats, terrorists  and cranks with incredible conspiracy theories. 

Based on the  deposition of what it calls key and credible witnesses, the report  singles out the DMK for its severest indictment. The report is replete  with examples of the DMK's proximity to the leaders of the Liberation  Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), whose cadres killed Rajiv. While  conceding that both the Congress government at the Centre and M.G.  Ramachandran's AIADMK government in the state were responsible for the  initial impetus to Tamil militancy, Jain holds the DMK guilty of  encouraging and assisting the LTTE even after the Indo-Sri Lankan  accord of 1987 pitted the Indian Army against the Tigers.

"Under the changed scenario, the LTTE made a strategic shift in their  political alignments," says the report. "They sent personal emissaries  to Karunanidhi for seeking his active support in their battle against  the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). These overtures of the LTTE  towards the DMK started a chain of events which led to LTTE's survival  and growth in Tamil Nadu even after the attitude of the Government of  India had changed towards the LTTE after the hostilities between the  IPKF and LTTE in Sri Lanka.'' The Jain report also concludes that the  LTTE "was getting its supplies, including arms, ammunition,  explosives, fuel and other essential items for its war against the  IPKF from Tamil Nadu. That too with the support of the Tamil Nadu  government and the connivance of the law enforcement authorities".

The report emphasises the political antagonism between the DMK  government in the state and the Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre.  Karunanidhi took over as chief minister in January 1989 after his  party's decisive victory over the Congress and the AIADMK. According  to the report, 1989 signified "the perpetuation of the general  political trend of indulging the Tamil militants on Indian soil and  tolerance of their wide-ranging criminal and anti-national activities  ... LTTE activities of arms smuggling, abduction of Indian citizens  and officials and intimidation of the law enforcement machinery were  tolerated". Citing the brutal murder of EPRLF leader K. Padmanabha,  along with 15 others in Madras on June 19, 1990, Jain has resurrected  memories of "the impunity with which the LTTE could operate in India".

The commission has quoted two reports of the Intelligence Bureau (IB)  that speak of Karunanidhi not being averse to the elimination of EPRLF  leaders by LTTE hit squads. These reports, filed on June 28, 1990  (nine days after Padmanabha's murder) referred to "the chief minister  informing Natesan (an LTTE activist) to provide advance information  regarding LTTE movements and also sought details of locations of LTTE  hideouts to direct the police to keep away from such places". The IB  also recorded the "opinion expressed by the chief minister regarding  Padmanabha being a betrayer". Another report quoted by Jain claims the  "chief minister also told Natesan that killing of Padmanabha was a  necessity and so also of Vardaraja Perumal and that Natesan should  ensure that he (Karunanidhi) was taken into confidence before such  acts are committed". The commission has also recorded the evidence of  former state home secretary R. Nagarajan, which further indicts  Karunanidhi: "Nagarajan has deposed that the DGP informed him that the  chief minister has asked him (DGP) that the police need not evince  keen interest to trace out the culprits in the Padmanabha massacre  till his arrival the next day for further instructions from him." To  drive home the point, the commission has quoted extensively from  Chidambaram's speech to the Lok Sabha on February 25, 1991, in which  he claimed that the movement of senior eprlf leaders "was conveyed by  the state police to the LTTE". Padmanabha's killing is important  because it was the same hit squad that was later deployed to eliminate  Rajiv.

If that isn't enough to damage Karunanidhi, the commission has quoted  other documents and various statements given to it by former LTTE  activists. For example, Kasi Anandan, a senior member of the 10-member  central committee of the LTTE's political wing, admitted in his  deposition on September 11, 1996, that "the LTTE had very friendly  relations with Karunanidhi. In the days of Karunanidhi as CM, movement  of LTTE was more free. Local administration was also friendly in Tamil  Nadu". Anandan even disclosed that the "LTTE was able to communicate  from Jaffna to Tamil Nadu when the V.P. Singh government was at the  Centre and the Karunanidhi government in Tamil Nadu."

Jain has recorded vivid details of the LTTE's free access to  Karunanidhi and key state government officials. Anandan revealed that  he, along with another LTTE leaders, used to meet Karunanidhi in  strict privacy: "I have met Karunanidhi several times alone and once  or twice with Natesan." Neither the Tamil Nadu government nor the  Centre had any clue as to what transpired in these meetings.

Further, Jain records that Karunanidhi and top state officials were  directly involved in getting many LTTE cadres released from police  custody. The interim report contains an IB account of the interference  during the raid on a LTTE hideout on November 30, 1990. At least two  key LTTE cadres, Kiruban and Anandan, were let off due to instructions  from above: "A posse of policemen converged on the Thillai Nagar  hideout of LTTE in Tiruchirappalli in the early hours of today  (Nov.30) and laid siege to the premises that had 19 LTTE cadres  including Kiruban and Kasi Anandan, the LTTE representative liaising  with the Tamil Nadu Government. The cadres refused to let the police  in and issued an ultimatum to the effect that if the siege was not  lifted by 12 noon today, all the cadres would consume cyanide and  commit suicide."

According to the report, the Madras-based LTTE cadres "tried to  contact the Tamil Nadu home secretary and V. Gopalaswamy, DMK member  of Rajya Sabha, to convey the message and seek their intervention to  settle the matter .... Kumar, the (LTTE) propagandist, managed to meet  the chief minister of Tamil Nadu at Anna Arivalayam (DMK party  office), Madras. According to Kumar, Karunanidhi expressed inability  to intervene since inaction would invite problems for his government  .... However, Karunanidhi offered to let out Anandan, the elderly LTTE  representative but declined to consider the case of Kiruban, who heads  the LTTE set-up in Tamil Nadu."

Other intelligence reports specifically name six important LTTE  functionaries who were present in the hideout but were not arrested.  These were Kiruban alias Salim (in charge of the Tamil Nadu unit),  Menon (in charge of Trichy), Romeo (in charge of Salem), Aruna and  Radha (navigators) and Kesavan (in charge of shore operations). The  commission didn't consider the IB's report alone but also secured  corroborative evidence from other agencies. Says the report, "Let us  see whether this version of the IB gets substantiated by the other  evidence available before the Commission. Kasi Anandan, who was the  key LTTE functionary, was present in the house and was not arrested."

Anandan told the commission on September 10 last year: "In November  1990, I was at Truchi at Thillai Nagar, at the house maintained by  Kumar. There was a raid of that house. Some boys were arrested. Kumar,  Radhayan, Suresh and about six or seven others were rounded up. I was  also rounded up. That house was sealed and we were released ... At  that time the government had started arresting LTTE boys. I was  released even without protest and I do not know how I was released."

Even Jaffar Ali, the then DIG, CID, in his deposition to the  commission on March 10, 1997, stated: "Kasi Anandan alone was released  on the instructions of Mr Nagarajan (Tamil Nadu home secretary). When  I asked Mr Nagarajan about this, he informed me that Kasi Anandan has  been living in Tamil Nadu for so many years and he has not committed  any offence. So he has asked for his release. Only Kasi Anandan was  released."

The fact that Anandan was released is not disputed by anyone. An  impression is created by the different versions that the entire state  machinery was, in one way or the other, involved in supporting the  LTTE at that time. Evidently, the police was not given a free hand to  deal with the LTTE.  Indeed, the Jain Commission report has raised doubts over the DMK's  committment to the Centrally-sponsored action plan for handling the  LTTE. It has alleged that even coded messages between the Centre and  the state government were promptly relayed to the LTTE leaders in  Jaffna. "There is evidence to show that, during this period, some of  the most vital wireless messages were passed between the LTTE  operatives based in Tamil Nadu and Jaffna. These messages, which were  decoded later, are directly related to the assassination of Rajiv  Gandhi.''

To substantiate this point, Jain has quoted from a speech by the then  prime minister Chandra Shekhar in the Lok Sabha on January 10, 1991.  He had said: "Certain information that were just given to the chief  minister (Karunanidhi) has gone to the LTTE headquarters not only in  Tamil Nadu but even in Jaffna. This is something very serious."

Various intelligence reports in July 1990, recorded by Jain, also  suggested that LTTE functionary Kiruban had approached Gopalaswamy and  the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for providing more landing points to  bring in injured Tigers from across the Palk Straits. As Jain records,  "The chief minister reportedly suggested a point from Mallipattinam,  preferably in the coastal areas of Thondi, as the possible choice for  the purpose. Thus, it appears, changes in landing points along the  coast were always effected in consultation with DMK leaders."

The commission has also referred to some reports that indicated  Karunanidhi was personally instrumental in ensuring things went  smoothly for the LTTE. At one stage, when the Tigers were hit by a  paucity of funds, Karunanidhi is reported to have suggested floating  an organisation called "The Relief Association for Sri Lankan Tamils"  to facilitate the diversion of Government funds. LTTE activists  Anandan and Natesan were mooted as office-bearers.

Karunanidhi's reckless style alarmed even his political allies. Mufti  Mohammed Sayeed, home minister in V.P. Singh's regime, cautioned  Karunanidhi about the worsening situation in the state. Giving details  of the LTTE's growing presence in Tamil Nadu, Mufti reprimanded the  chief minister for the DMK's perceived closeness to the LTTE. In a  letter dated May 15, 1990, Mufti advised Karunanidhi to issue  instructions to "all concerned in the state government that they would  take full care to pre-empt the possibility of any impression being  created that Tamil militants could deal directly with state government  functionaries". Predictably, Karunanidhi wrote back a week later  refuting most of the then home minister's apprehensions.

Earlier, V.C. Pande, then cabinet secretary, had been more categorical  in his directive to the state government. On April 12, 1990, he wrote  a strong letter to then Tamil Nadu chief secretary M.M. Rajendran:  "The LTTE appears to have established a fairly elaborate network,  apparently without any hindrance, not only in the coastal areas but in  the interior areas also." Instead of committing itself to corrective  action, the state government threw the ball back into the Centre's  court. In his reply to Pande, dated April 25, 1990, Rajendran only  said: "Unless we take urgent measures to equip the state police with  modern weapons, at least for selected task forces, our efforts may not  have the desired effect."

The evidence against the Karunanidhi Government appears to be quite  damning, particularly since the commission has been rather dismissive  of the DMK's protestations of innocence. Deposing before the  commission on January 17 this year, Karunanidhi asserted: "I had  supported the LTTE along with other parties, but after the murder of  Padmanabha, I withdrew my support." Jain is, however, disinclined to  accept this denial: "It cannot be found that after June 19, 1990, the  DMK government in Tamil Nadu gave no support to the LTTE."

However, it is curious that Jain has been remarkably selective in his  indignation. While at a few places in the report he has reprimanded  the Rajiv government at the Centre and its AIADMK ally, M.G.  Ramachandran, for the initial softness towards the LTTE, at others he  has absolved them of helping the Tigers politically and financially.

In fact, Jain has praised MGR, who once paid Rs 5 crore to the LTTE,  for dealing with V.Prabhakaran, the LTTE supremo, decisively. The  report says: "An affirmation of the policy of the government of India  is seen in a severe reprimand to V. Prabhakaran by MGR, the then chief  minister of Tamil Nadu, after the SAARC meeting when Prabhakaran was  told by him that he should carry out his struggle from his own country  if he was not willing to play by our rules."

Not that these apparent double standards are likely to get much  prominence in today's charged political climate. The Jain Commission  report is calculated to become a political football that could end up  unsettling the cosy relationship between Congress President Sitaram  Kesri and Prime Minister Gujral. The battle lines have clearly been  drawn. Congress Vice-president Jitendra Prasada fired the first salvo  on September 17. In a letter, Prasada told the prime minister: "Now  that the Jain Commission has submitted its interim report, the country  should be taken into confidence. It is all the more necessary to do so  in order to ensure that the report does not become a subject of  baseless speculations." With an eye on Sonia Gandhi, Prasada managed  to get the Congress Working Committee to demand presentation of the  report in the next session of Parliament.

Prasada is furious with the casual response he got from both the prime  minister and the home minister. While Gujral didn't bother to reply,  Gupta wrongly informed him that the report was being processed by the  committee of secretaries. Gupta subsequently corrected himself. But an  incensed Prasada sent yet another angry missive to the home minister  saying, "I feel deeply disturbed at the Government's procrastination  in this matter." He also warned Gupta, "I may be forced to take some  drastic step because my conscience doesn't permit me to remain a  silent and helpless spectator in this matter."  Responding to this, the home minister promptly conveyed the  Government's resolve to place Justice Jain's report on the "opening  day of the coming session along with an action taken report". Gupta  also stressed that "There is no need, in my opinion for you to  threaten the Government with 'some drastic steps' in case the report  is not tabled".

While Prasada's plan to make an issue of the Jain report can be partly  explained by his desire to upstage Kesri within the Congress, the UF's  wariness stems from a fear of the havoc the report can cause among its  constituents. After the report is made public, it will become  untenable for Gujral to retain the DMK in the UF. The Congress, on  whose support the UF Government rests, will not countenance this.  According to a senior Congress functionary, "It will be totally  unethical to support the DMK's participation in the Government if the  interim report holds it responsible for causing our leader's death."

Given Sonia Gandhi's divine status in the party, it is certain  Congressmen will delight in competitive DMK-bashing, if only to  impress 10 Janpath. There is the possibility that G.K. Moopanar's  Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) will see the report as an excuse to  detach itself from the DMK. Even so, the TMC will have to suffer the  embarrassment of Jain's strictures against Chidambaram.

At the same time, it is unlikely that the UF's other constituents will  meekly acquiesce to the exclusion of the DMK at the Congress' behest.  The forcible exclusion of a constituent will surely be seen as a  violation of the federal principles that led to the UF experiment in  the first place. If regional groups like the Telugu Desam and the Asom  Gana Parishad and the Left parties make an issue of it, it could well  signal the end of Gujral's prime ministership -- and of the UF. In  upholding the memory of the slain leader, Kesri may find himself  forced into an election that neither he nor his party is prepared for.

Despite 12 extensions and the ridicule he suffered, Jain's findings  may prove as devastating as the bomb that went off in Sriperumbudur  six years ago. But the judge is unfazed by the implications of his  findings. "I have done my job to the best of my ability," he says,"  even under adverse circumstances and non-cooperation. Now, it is for  the Government to do whatever it wants to do." That is, if the  Government survives the devastation of the Jain explosion 

 

 

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