Is the issue of setting the assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi free a deliberate ploy to trigger disaffection and anarchy directed against the lopsided legal system that seems loaded in favour of the former PM’s killers and against the people of India that is Bharat?
In my opinion, the answer to that question is YES.
The latest controversy:
The matter over the release of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers were used for pure politics in the run up to the elections – to help Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa garner a few more Tamil hard-liners’ votes and has been discarded like used toilet paper – including the vexed issue of Lankan Tamils.
All political parties in India have used, misused and abused the issues concerning the Tamil minority of the Emerald Isle in the Indian Ocean and the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi for what can be loosely termed political gains.
The latest drama was telling.
Jaya announced that her regime would release the Rajiv killers forthwith. Arguably, the state government can claim rights to do so but, virtually anyone can question and obtain a stay against the act through judicial review.
The centre did.
The Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam announced that he would pronounce the final verdict on the fate of the accused on April 25 2014 – significantly – one day after the polling in Tamil Nadu.
And then came one of the dampest squibs – Sathasivam referred the matter to The Constitution Bench – which may decide on this one way or other in the future.
Retired director general of police AX Alexander – a personal friend to me – is now a member of the All India Anna DMK.
Many have accused him of possessing a soft corner for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Belonging to a minority community, Alexander is also an easy target for political cheapskates.
He has been accused of effecting the change in Jaya’s approach towards the Tigers and the Hindu Nationalist, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.
Nothing can be farther than the truth and I can say this with clear personal knowledge.
I had witnessed the entire gamut of Operation Tiger in 1986 under the supervision of Tamil Nadu’s police boss – K Mohandas.
And I personally witnessed Alexander giving so many details to nab as many armed Lankan Tamil groups as possible. The group that lost the most was – the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
“Like every Tamil, I am hurt by what goes on in Lanka against our brothers and sisters. To call me a sympathiser of the LTTE is atrocious. But then, that is what happens in India these days … if one belongs to a minority community … some brush and some tar is always found to tarnish reputations gained through an entire life of hard work,” Alexander had told me in the past before joining the AIADMK.
He did not want to go into any details and be drawn into the controversy over the release of the Rajiv killers by Jaya.
“For one, I would interpret her act as her strong protest against the genocide in Lanka against Tamils. You compare that with what the late MGR did in the 80’s. He gave them around Rs.4 crores in cash publicly in the secretariat and within a few months, ordered the snatching of all their arms through Operation Tiger. It was the centre that ordered the return of the arms to the ‘boys’. In a nutshell, the AIADMK has maintained that it supports the cause of the Lankan Tamil minority with the slogan of a separate Eelam as that was something that had been declared in the 1977 elections in Lanka. Under UN supervision Tamil United Liberation Front fought the elections on the plank of a separate Eelam and won 18 out of the 19 seats in Tamil areas. So, the decision for an Eelam has been already accepted in Lanka to the admission of the regime in Colombo and won international approval - as the elections were under UN supervision - way back in 1977 itself. Its surest sign was Amritalingam - since dead - becoming the Leader of Opposition - winning more seats than the current ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Hence, Eelam isn't something illegal or untouchable. Sadly, the DMK and other parties that have turned the matter into a circus. Perhaps the CM knew that her declaring a cabinet decision to release the Rajiv assassins immediately during the run up to the elections would be judicially challenged. It was. Surely, the emotional issue may have won her a few more votes. But, her consistent stand against terrorism has not been altered one little bit. Her demand that the Rajiv killers be spared the hangman’s rope is more of a deterrent, one might carefully add. When hung, a person dies within 3 minutes. But when kept for a long time in a prison cell, his/her travails are chilling reminders to those indulging in such acts. If it proves to be an entire life time in prison … the lesson is taught and understood. Better still, none can abuse anyone of being cruel or inhuman. During Mr Mohandas’s time, we had used ruses of planting the odd story to rescue a kidnapped American couple from the clutches of the desperados in Lanka after wining and dining their leaders in a star hotel in India. Politics has many facets. The CM is using some of them to her advantage and it is certainly not a crime,” Alexander said adding that those were purely his personal comments that may or may not reflect the views of his party.
In my opinion, Jayalalithaa is her own person. Well meaning persons like the impartial journalist Cho Ramaswamy have been accused of advising her in the past – something that is the farthest from truth.
Now, it is the turn of Alexander to be the newest victim of the kite-flying section of the regional media that spreads canards in Chennai for pure pelf purposes.
But, the larger issue remains.
Should one say that Jaya was guilty of haste and her act was purely political – aiming to gain a few votes?
Let us remember the following:
1. Karunanidhi had slammed the Indian Peace Keeping Force when it returned to India in 1989 – for having reportedly raped Tamil girls in what is generally known as Eelam. His winning the polls was facilitated only because of the fight between 2 women associated with the deceased Chief Minister Marudur Gopalamenon Ramachandran [MGR] who claimed ownership to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam viz. Vaikom Narayani Janaki a.k.a. Janaki Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa Jayaram.
While MGR was CM, he openly gave around Rs.4 crores to the Tigers from a nationalised bank in the Chennai secretariat, something that spoilt his image very badly.
Under the same MGR regime, police boss Mohandas disarmed all the Lankan armed terrorist groups within a few hours vide Operation Tiger in 1986, during which, the same Alexander – despite being suspected of being a Tiger sympathiser – helped his boss. Hence, blaming Alexander for being unprofessional would not be correct at all.
In a word, Karunanidhi did not win due to his support for the Tigers or any Tamil group.
Actually, for Karunanidhi, the LTTE has always been bad news while for Jaya it has been somewhat good news.
Excerpts from a report from the Times of India citing Wikileaks:
The latest Wikileaks revelations throw light on how the LTTE influenced political parties in Tamil Nadu in the 1980’s and 1990’s, starting from the IPKF days till the crackdown on the dreaded outfit after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
Two dispatches sent by the US mission in Chennai to Washington - one in April 1990 and the other in March 2009 - compare contrasting approaches of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M Karunanidhi towards the LTTE.
Assuming office as chief minister soon after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Jayalalithaa “ordered crackdown on the LTTE, which for long had operated openly in the state. A bureaucrat, who held a key security portfolio at the time, told post (embassy officials) that Jayalalithaa ordered him to do ‘whatever it takes to finish off the LTTE’ in Tamil Nadu, even if it required extrajudicial killings of LTTE associates in the state,” said a dispatch sent by the then US consul general in Chennai, Andrew T Simkin. The cable further added that she is an “iron lady” and “even her fiercest critics acknowledge that Jayalalithaa’s aggressive approach went a long way towards pushing the LTTE out of Tamil Nadu”.
On the contrary, the US mission officials had written to their bosses in April 1990 that then chief minister M Karunanidhi was tilting towards the LTTE. The cable sent almost a year before his government was dismissed, said his pro-LTTE stand was generating widespread controversy and dismay in Tamil Nadu, particularly in the light of his strained relations with the Tigers in the past.
He was burning bridges with Delhi because of his hardliner pro-Tamil Eelam stand, the cable said and added that it may be at significant political cost. The US mission also raised suspicion as to whether Karunanidhi had put up with the LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu out of fear for the terrorist group.
2. The LTTE and most of the Eelam groups always looked down upon all Indian political parties. The Tigers actually have expressed sheer contempt for Karunanidhi several times.
Excerpts from an agency report dated April 11 2011:
Just ahead of elections in Tamil Nadu, a pro-Tamil Tiger journal has accused Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his daughter-cum-MP Kanimozhi of betraying the rebels as they went down fighting two years ago.
Ezhamurasu, which is widely circulated among the Tamil Diaspora in the West, has said that a senior Tamil Tiger leader was in touch with Kanimozhi but neither she nor her father did anything to save the guerrillas.
The journal has reproduced three brief letters that P. Natesan, who headed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) political wing, wrote to Kanimozhi between Oct 14, 2008 and March 30, 2009 - and two from her to the LTTE.
Natesan also reportedly addressed one letter to Karunanidhi but it elicited no response.
The last of the letters from Natesan, according to website pathivu.com, was a virtual SOS to the father-daughter duo, asking them to put pressure on the Indian coalition government - of which their DMK was a key component - to persuade Sri Lanka to call off the punishing military offensive.
3. Mayhem within the premises of the Madras High Court by pro-Eelam lawyers and law students led to disgrace of several senior police officers and injuries to sitting judges. All this happened when Karunanidhi held the baton to control the state’s home department.
4. In 1991, Karunanidhi’s government was dismissed under Article 356 for anti-national activity – by the Chandrasekhar regime – upon the prompting of none other than Rajiv Gandhi and his then man-Friday – Dr Subramanian Swamy.
5. Very significantly, it was the same Congress that pulled the United Front regime down on the issue of the continuance of Murasoli Maran in the cabinet despite the Jain Commission that went into the conspiracy behind the murder of Rajiv Gandhi.
6. In 1999, the NDA found virtue in Karunanidhi and the same Maran was a Union Minister under Atal Behari Vajpayee as well.
7. In 2004, all of a sudden, Congress President Sonia Gandhi found a ‘father-figure, friend, philosopher and guide’ in Karunanidhi and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was part of the Union Cabinet again – from where all the scandals began – starting with the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and continues to this day with the 2G Spectrum allocation stink.
8. In 2009, the victory of Sonia Gandhi was partly attributed to India’s central regime helping the Lankan regime to kill the Tamils as a kind of vendetta by the widow and children of Rajiv Gandhi. While the mass murders began in August 2008, they reached their final cataclysmic orgasm during the last days of polling. Prabhakaran was declared dead May 18 2009. There is no independent evidence of the body being that of Prabhakaran – confirmed by fingerprint and DNA reports – in the light of the fact that in these modern days, plastic surgery can make anyone look like anyone else. Ex-Lankan General Sarat Fonseka, who declared the Tiger dead – May 18 2009, had also expressed a doubt about Prabhakaran’s possible escape January 17 2009. Was it a coincidence that the hero of May 2009 became worse than a zero a few months later and had to spend 3 years in a Lankan prison after being stripped of all honours due to corruption in the army?
In a nutshell, the above paragraphs suggest that support to Lankan Tamils’ by Tamil political parties in India – especially by Karunanidhi have proven to be bad news.
Here are the highlights:
In 1991, Karunanidhi’s regime was dismissed on the basis of his having been reportedly in cahoots with the Tigers.
In 1996-97, the United Front regime got pulled down on account of the DMK’s role in the conspiracy that led to Rajiv’s murder.
The stymieing of the SSCP project after expenditure that has crossed over Rs. 8000 crores – a scheme that could have only helped the Tigers get in their arms and ammunition through small ships – coincided with the end of the LTTE era in 2009.
But for helping the LTTE there is nothing in the scheme as can be seen from the Wikipedia dossier.
Some naval hydrographers and experts suggest that the project is unlikely to be financially viable or serve ships in any significant way. The time savings for ships sailing from Kanyakumari or Tuticorin is between 10 and 30 hours. Ships from destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Mauritius and Europe, would save an average of 8 hours using the canal. At the present tariff rates, ships from Africa and Europe will lose US$4,992 on every voyage because the savings in time for these ships are considerably lower than what is calculated in the DPR. This loss is significant because 65% of the canal’s projected users are from Africa and Europe. If tariffs are lowered to a point where ships from Africa and Europe will not lose money from using the canal, the IRR of the project falls to 2.6%. This is a level at which even public infrastructure projects are rejected by the government.
The canal is designed for ships of 30,000 metric tonnes and lighter. Most new ships weighing more than 60,000 tonnes and tankers weighing above 150,000 tonnes cannot use this canal.
Costs of project
Axis Bank Ltd. was appointed “loan arranger” for the project in 2005.Since its inception in 2004, costs have risen to at least 40 billion (US$670 million), interest rates have risen and old loan terms have lapsed. The loan sanctions, valid only up to 24 billion (US$400 million), lapsed. To secure more money, Sethusamudram Corp. Ltd would have to draw up new reports, sit with parliamentary committees and receive fresh approval.
The project cost which originally were 247 billion (US$4.1 billion) will grow by almost 45 billion (US$750 million), a shipping ministry source said.
The project would disturb the ecological balance and destroy corals. The area is an important fishing ground for Tamil Nadu and the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is in the vicinity of the proposed project. Opposition to the canal’s planned route has come from local fishermen who are demanding alternative channels, which are available. They say the planned route would destroy marine life and corals and would impact the trade in conch shells that is worth almost 1.5 billion (US$25 million) a year. Deposits of thorium—would be affected, which are too important for our nuclear fuel requirements.
Opponents also say that the dumping of dredged material from the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar in deeper waters would “endanger those areas, which are rich reserves containing 400 endangered species, including whales, sea turtles, dugongs and dolphins”.
Tsunami expert Professor Tad Murty—who advised the Government of India on the tsunami warning system—has said that the planned route may result in increased impact from tsunami waves. He wrote, “During the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004, the southern part of Kerala was generally spared from a major tsunami, mainly because the tsunami waves from Sumatra region travelling south of the Sri Lankan island, partially diffracted northward and affected the central part of the Kerala coast. Since the tsunami is a long gravity wave (similar to tides and storm surges) during the diffraction process, the rather wide turn it has to take spared the south Kerala coast. On the other hand, deepening the Sethu Canal might provide a more direct route for the tsunami and this could impact south Kerala.”
On 21 April 2010, the Supreme Court of India decided to delay the project to until an Environmental impact analysis on the feasibility of a route through Dhanuskodi instead of Adam’s Bridge had been carried out.
During the 2009 elections, Jaya announced that she would support the call for establishing an Eelam with the help of the Indian army.
The first paragraph of a report that appeared in the Times of India on April 30 2009 is telling.
Stepping up her pro-Eelam rhetoric, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa … said if the people elected a government at the Centre that heeded her, she would ensure that the army was sent to Sri Lanka to create a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’ by force.
Jaya’s stand on the LTTE is well known.
The first paragraph of a report from the Indian Express dated November 15 2007:
Breaking her silence on the arrest of ally MDMK leader Vaiko, for taking out a rally supporting slain LTTE leader Tamilselvan, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa told reporters on Thursday that under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the LTTE was a banned terrorist organisation and anyone supporting it was guilty of “anti-national act and treason”.
The outgoing Chief Justice of India – Mr Justice Sadasivam turned the much hyped judgement about the killers of Rajiv Gandhi scheduled for his last day in office into the dampest of squibs – by referring the same to the constitutional bench.
Incidentally, it was judge Sadasivam who told reporters that he would pronounce his verdict on April 25 2014 – his last day in office.
The simple facts of the matter:
1. None can actually raise any legally viable question that those proven guilty of having had a hand in the brutal, premeditated, cold-blooded murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the then Prime Minister to be [the Congress won the 1991 elections after his slaying] to suggest they were wrongly judged guilty.
2. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress that led regimes called National Democratic Alliance [NDA] and United Progressive Alliance [UPA] can be judged equally guilty for procrastinating in the matter. The Presidents who could not decide about the disposal of the petitions for clemency filed by the 4 death row convicts in the Rajiv assassination matter – viz. Nalini Murugan, Murugan [the two being husband and wife] Santhan and Perarivalan are:
a. Kocheri Raman Narayanan – President between 1997-2002 [Partly the BJP-led NDA period since the final Apex Court denouement]
b. Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam – President between 2002-2007 [partly NDA-partly UPA regimes]
c. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil President between 2007 and 2012 [UPA regime]
d. Pranab Mukherjee current incumbent President since 2012. [UPA regime so far.]
Was the procrastination the fault of the office of the President?
The Union Cabinet did not send its note – telling the President to decide one way or other.
Can the President take a unilateral decision and send the men to the gallows when mercy petitions are pending?
NO! The matter was decided when the matter concerning Kehar Singh, the uncle of one of Beant Singh – one of the men who shot Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to death. While Beant was killed on the spot by other guards, Kehar was hanged in 1989.
The decision to hang Kehar was taken by the Union Cabinet.
So, the President cannot be blamed for the delay in hanging Rajiv’s killers.
There is another question, of course.
Will allowing persons found guilty of heinous crimes to go scot free not affect the psyche of those who live ordinary lives at the mercy of psychopath rowdies?
Senior journalist KM Thomas – a close friend for over 30 years has strong feelings in the matter.
“One Venkatachalapathy – a nerd working for a reputed software firm – had been accused of killing a girl who had spurned him way back in 2008 in southwest Tamil Nadu. The blunt fact was that he had been caught red-handed by the public and kept tied to a tree till the police arrived. Yet, he managed to obtain an acquittal in the courts, managed to wipe his slate clean and got a job in one of India’s global showpieces for software export. A few days ago, the same chap stabbed a girl to death for spurning him – the same way as he had done in the past. An ordinary person would simply ask: If the assassins of someone as big and important as Rajiv Gandhi can beat the system using loopholes, will anyone else not do so? And when one does that, what happens to the ordinary persons who will be victims of criminal acts? I am not limiting myself to one Venkatachalapathy. Let us see how many persons convicted of heinous crimes in the name of Jihad have been prematurely released and how many of them have kidnapped, robbed, looted and raped! With some 30 plus years in my career of reporting on crimes, I can say that unless there is collusion at every level with the accused – the police, courts, judiciary and the political class itself, no accused can ever go scot free. The protected political classes are rarely affected. But mistakes of politicians in major decisions can affect lives of others – like journalists, officials and ordinary citizens,” Thomas said.
Let us consider how many such decisions have affected the common person.
The late Indira Gandhi had created the Frankenstein called Bhindranwale – that led to the Golden Temple turned into a mini-Pakistan – which led to Operation Bluestar – that sequenced in her being murdered in cold blood by her own Sikh bodyguards – which in turn resulted in the mass murder of innocent Sikhs nationwide, that also later caused the murder of retired general Vaidya … and one of the men who commanded the force that entered the Golden Temple – Gen Brar was attacked in UK recently.
Pakistan is still able to play the so-called Khalistan politics despite it not being viable at all.
I had pointed to the pointlessness of it all long ago – in February 2013.
Procrastinating over the fate of Pak terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the Kashmiri facilitator of the attacks on Indian parliament – Afzal Guru – has left ordinary persons lives in India’s northern most state a misery and provided grist to the mischief mills operating under the supervision of Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence.
In the case of Rajiv’s killers, the Congress, the BJP, the DMK and AIADMK – without exception pay mere lip service and finally end up doing nothing citing the dangers of Chinese intervention in India’s immediate southern neighbourhood or some such excuse.
None of these parties – including the so called virulently anti-Congress, pro-Tamil outfits like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi [VCK] led by Thol Thirumavalavan – whose followers beat up Congress workers during the run up to the 2009 polls on the issue of Lankan Tamils – and whose posters make him out as the next incarnation of Prabhakaran – have any qualms in enjoying the hospitality of war criminal President Mahinda Rajapakse.
If the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court so wishes – it can easily render justice that would suit one and all.
The final ruling can be on the following lines:
The Tamil Nadu state legislative assembly has passed a resolution against the hanging … hence that part would be upheld.
The Indian Penal Code clearly says a life sentence means the rest of the life in prison.
Since the ruling AIADMK and the main opposition in the state have time and again expressed flip-flop rulings on the issue of setting the killers free, as a deterrent to all those challenging the might of India … those found guilty of having been part of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination shall spend the rest of their lives in prison, without parole and remission.
This matter will not be open to judicial review, ever.
But, very importantly, will the Supreme Court do this?
Frankly, I have no clue.
In the final analysis, dirty politics and dirtier politicians shall gain. The poor, helpless, gullible people of India that is Bharat who pay for all the cushy lives of politicians and corrupt officials will end up always on the losing side.
Meanwhile, all the major political players in Tamil Nadu - Jaya, her main opponents like Vijaykant, Stalin, Maran et al have taken vacations. While Jaya is in Tamil Nadu in her palatial bungalow in a hill station, others are abroad.