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The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon Part 32 http://www.sangam.org/PIRABAKARAN/Part32.

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The Pirabhakaran Phenomenon


Part 32

Sachi Sri Kantha


[26 January 2002]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: The Conspiracy


Angle

Pirabhakaran’s denial in an interview to BBC.


To comprehend the conspiracy angle, I think chronologically one should
study the sequence of events following the reported deaths of Sivarasan,
Subha and five of their associates in Bangalore on August 20, 1991. Chris
Morris, the then BBC Colombo correspondent recorded an interview with
Pirabhakaran in Jaffna on Sept.1, 1991. I quote, Pirabhakaran’s answers to
three questions asked by Mr.Morris.
Morris: “Turning to your relations with India. They are particularly
bad at the moment. Does that worry you?
Pirabhakaran: Our organization has had problems with India for quite
a long time. The government of India intervened in the Tamil problem
in 1983 and provided military assistance to various Tamil groups and
created new Tamil militant organizations. In 1987 the government of
India entered into an agreement with Sri Lanka and imposed a solution
on our people. We were opposed to the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement,
and as a consequence the war broke out between India and the LTTE.
So for a long time India was acting on its own national interest,
but we were upholding the interests of our people. As a
consequence there have been contradictions between the LTTE
and the government of India. The present hostility is a product of
this long historical bitterness. Therefore we are really concerned and
to some extent disappointed over the approach of the Indian
government.
Morris: Can you tell me more specifically about the clampdown on
your activities in Tamil Nadu? What has been the worst aspect of
that clampdown on your fight in Sri Lanka?
Pirabhakaran: For a long time the LTTE have been used as pawns in
the political chess game in Tamil Nadu. The government of India, as

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well as the Tamil Nadu state government, has been making calculated
efforts to turn the Tamil Nadu people against our struggle. Deliberate
attempts are being made to undermine the image of our organization.
But we can say confidently that there are vast sections of the people in
Tamil Nadu who support the Tiger movement and the legitimate cause
for which we are fighting. As long as there is this continuing support I
don’t think our struggle will be in any way affected.
Morris: Now I know you have denied any involvement in the
accusation of Rajiv Gandhi. But the Indian investigators are
convinced that you are responsible.
Pirabhakaran: Our movement is not in anyway involved in the killing
of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. So far this accusation has not been corroborated.
It is true that the government of India has been engaged in a massive
disinformation campaign against our movement, based on this false
accusation.” [Tamil Nation, Oct.15, 1991, pp.7-8]

To the best of my knowledge, that was the strongest denial offered by


Pirabhakaran to an international news organization pertaining to LTTE’s
role in Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Pirabhakaran or any of his official
representatives, for the past ten years, has neither offered any revision nor
retraction to this 1991 stand.

Hamish McDonald’s report in the Far Eastern Economic Review.


Impressions of Hamish McDonald, the New Delhi correspondent of Far
Eastern Economic Review magazine, appeared in mid-September 1991,
under the caption, ‘Loose ends throw doubt on Gandhi murder theories:
Stranger than fiction’.

Excerpts:
“Working from the forensic and photographic evidence, Karthikeyan’s
team quickly rolls up the LTTE support network that aided the
assassins. Reports say they also knew from radio intercepts that the
group leader, a 30-year old one-eyed man called Sivarasan, and a
back-up woman assassin were still in the country after failing to
rendezvous with a getaway boat from Jaffna. Finally, on 20 August
[1991], Sivarasan and the woman are cornered by police in
neighbouring Karnataka state. They and five others take cyanide in
LTTE fashion. Sivarasan shoots himself in the head as well.
What is missing so far is the positive link to the ultimate instigator, and
a clear motive. The involvement of ethnic Tamils, the location and the
suicide element all point to the LTTE. ‘How is anyone else going to
find a Sri Lankan lady willing to blow herself up?’ said one diplomat.

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[Note by Sri Kantha: Journalists use this common euphemism of


quoting an unnamed diplomat, when in fact their source is an
‘intelligence agent’, attached to an embassy. For comparison, you
would never read a journalist quoting an unnamed LTTE source.]
The plot looks neat – almost too neat. Why would the LTTE take the
risk of hiring a photographer if it proposed to hide its hand? Why
did Sivarasan and his group not get back to Jaffna in the four or five
days before the pictures were published? Why were so many LTTE
sympathizers involved in such a sensitive operation? How did they
get through security? [Note: Italics added by me for emphasis.] Was it
only police carelessness that allowed Shanmugan to escape from
custody, to be found dead later – an apparent suicide. [Note: As
presented in part 31 of this series, McDonald was wrong to allude to
Shanmugam’s suicide, when in fact overwhelming evidence show that
he was murdered.]
Conspiracy theorists have had a field day, working back from the
question ‘who benefited?’ The most obvious beneficiary goes beyond
most imaginations: results from the first day of voting on 20 May
indicate Congress would have lost seats but for the sympathy factor.
The Sri Lankan leadership [Note: i.e, the then President Premadasa]
hated Gandhi’s assertion of an Indian Raj and has been helped by the
backlash against the Tigers. But Colombo has virtually no ability to
operate covertly in Tamil Nadu.
For its part, the LTTE denies any involvement and profess not to know
the alleged assassins. Spokesman Anton Balasingham suggested a host
of Indian groups or aggrieved Sri Lankan individuals could have done
the job. He said the Tigers had twice sent emissaries to talk with
Gandhi in New Delhi in March, and had found him cordial. Many
other sources, including rival Tamils and foreign diplomats [Note
again: the euphemistic use of the word unnamed ‘diplomats’], believe
otherwise. They said the LTTE could have feared Gandhi’s return to
power would lead to renewed Indian meddling in Sri Lankan affairs.
Tiger leader V.Prabhakaran is also said to have held a deep personal
grudge against Gandhi for having put under arrest while visiting New
Delhi, and over the deaths of close colleagues during fighting with the
Indian peacekeeping force. This school of thought assigns a degree of
‘irrationality’ to Prabhakaran.” [Far Eastern Economic Review,
Sept.12, 1991, pp.27-28]

My Two Published Comments on McDonald’s Report


After reading McDonald’s report on the assassination conspiracy, I
submitted my comments to the Far Eastern Economic Review, which passed

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the editorial muster and appeared in print a month later. This comment
elicited a sarcastic note from a Sinhalese residing in Colombo, for which I
submitted a rebuttal, which also was published in the same magazine in
November 1991. For record, I provide below these three brief
communications in entirety.
The captions of the letters were not mine.

Letter 1: Looking for scapegoats


By Sachi Sri Kantha
“I agree with Hamish McDonald’s report on the murder of Rajiv
Gandhi [12 Sept.], that though ‘the involvement of ethnic Tamils, the
location and the suicide element all point to the LTTE’, the murder
theory formulated by the Indian investigation team ‘looks almost too
neat’ to believe.

In his last interview in The New York Times [22 May] shortly before
he was killed, Gandhi stated that ‘India and Indian leaders could be
targets of outside powers as the country took on a larger role in the
region’. It was also reported that when asked whether he had the CIA
in mind as the outside force, he ‘smirked’. Gandhi’s reference to ‘a
larger role in the region’ is not too cryptic a remark to fathom what he
had in mind.

According to news reports released after the murder, Khaled el-Sheikh,


the PLO’s chief envoy in India, said that he gave Gandhi a warning
from PLO leader Yasser Arafat ‘about a plot to assassinate him’ some
five weeks before he was killed on 21 May. The warning could have
been about the activities of the Mossad, the secret service arm of Israel.
And Gandhi’s reference to outside powers could be interpreted as a
natural extension of his ‘intelligence’ received from the PLO.
If the LTTE planned to murder Gandhi, how could one explain that
Arafat came to know about this plot? It is ridiculous to believe that
Arafat spied on the LTTE in Jaffna or in jungles of the Vanni region of
Sri Lanka.
Mossad’s motives in eliminating Gandhi are not incomprehensible,
since India under Gandhis (both Indira and Rajiv) has openly
supported the causes espoused by the PLO. Last year, Mossad also
suffered a loss of face when one of its former agents, Victor Ostrovsky,
exposed its nefarious activities in his much publicized book, By Way of
Deception. So it is not improbable to expect that Mossad could have
been tempted to redeem its tarnished image among clients, which
included the military establishment of Sri Lanka.
One wonders why Arafat cannot be contacted and asked in detail

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about what kind of warning he gave Gandhi and whom he had in mind
as the suspects.” [Far Eastern Economic Review, Oct.3, 1991]

Letter 2: Gandhi’s killers


By U.Pethiyagoda
“In reference to the letter by Sachi Sri Kantha [Letters, 3 Oct.], a
‘smirk’ by the late Rajiv Gandhi shortly before his brutal murder, the
purported ‘warning’ five weeks before his killing, and a specious
assumption that Mossad had ‘lost face’ by the publication of a book by
an ‘ex-Mossad agent’, is apparently good enough evidence to suspect
hands other than those of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
for Gandhi’s murder.
The painstaking and impressive evidence uncovered by an Indian
investigating team which fairly points the finger at the perpetrators
pales into insignificance before the novel line of reasoning of your
correspondent.
Such impeccable logic of LTTE apologists is not unfamiliar to Sri
Lankans. Clearly ‘looking for scapegoats’ continues!.” [Far Eastern
Economic Review, Nov.7, 1991]

Letter 3: Backed by the president


by Sachi Sri Kantha
“One Colombo correspondent [Letters, 7 Nov.] feels irritated by my
linking of Israel’s secret service to the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. I wish
to note that Mossad’s involvement in the politics of South Asia has
been corroborated by Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa
himself. On 24 September, Premadasa openly accused Mossad of
trying to topple him.
In his address to the Sri Lankan parliament, he said: ‘You know that
immediately after the sending back of the IPKF [Indian Peace Keeping
Force], I had the Israeli Interests Section removed. In such a context
there is nothing to be surprised about the Mossad rising up against me.
Please remember that there are among us traitors [Note by Sri Kantha:
he was indeed referring to his then nemesis Lalith Athulathmudali]
who have gone to Israeli universities and lectured there and earned
dirty money. Don’t forget that for a moment.”
Curiously, when you covered the impeachment crisis faced by
Premadasa, this accusation was left out in your news reports. Also one
should not forget that a serious assassination attempt was made on
Gandhi in Colombo after he signed the now disgraced Gandhi-
Jayewardene Peace Accord in mid-1987. Only the poor targeting by
the assassin allowed Gandhi to have an additional four years of life.

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Being more inclined to get involved in polemics, the Colombo


correspondent makes fun of the warning given to Gandhi five weeks
before his death. This warning had come not from an ordinary person.
It was given by Yasser Arafat.
While some in Sri Lanka may be impressed by the ‘painstaking
evidence uncovered by an Indian investigating team’ which pointed
fingers at the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the performance of the
Indian sleuths resembled more closely a page from a Marx brothers’
comedy script. The Tamil Nadu police, the Central Bureau of
Intelligence and the Research and Analysis Wing of the Indian search
team bungled at every step from 21 May to 21 August. The so-called
‘impressive evidence’ could not track the personal details of the female
assassin. Nothing is known about her background. The alleged
mastermind Sivarajan has been identified by an investigative journalist
[Note by Sri Kantha: I was referring to D.B.S.Jeyaraj’s report to the
Frontline magazine] as one who belonged to the Tamil Eelam
Liberation Organisation until 1986. It was this rebel group which
received official patronage from the Indian Government between 1983
and 1986.” [Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov.28, 1991]

In retrospect, after studying the Supreme Court verdicts on the Rajiv


assassination trial, I feel relieved that my observations relating to the
performance of the SIT officials and made in November 1991 have stood the
test of time. The conspiracy angle of Rajiv assassination itself has become
more murkier than what I perceived then. Also, neither Mr.Pethiyagoda nor
any other LTTE antagonist could rebut my views expressed in November
1991. I also became more interested in studying the John Kennedy
assassination to seek parallels. Toward this goal, in addition to studying
some of the published research papers on Kennedy assassination, I also
searched, bought and read at least six of the available 40-odd ‘recommended
books’ on JFK assassination. These were,
1. Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of
President John F.Kennedy, 1964, 888 pp. [popularly known as
Warren Commission Report]
2. The Ruby Cover-Up by Seth Kantor, 1978, 450 pp.
3. On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, 1988, 406 pp.
4. JFK: Conspiracy of Silence by Dr.Charles Crenshaw, 1992, 203 pp.
5. The Killing of a President: The Complete Photographic Record by
Robert Gorden, 1993, 223 pp.
6. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J.Edgar Hoover by
Anthony Summers, 1993, 621 pp.

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I provide the details of these representative books on JFK assassination to


show, how much information have been suppressed in Rajiv Gandhi
assassination. For instance, there exists a book detailing the ‘complete
photographic record’ of JFK’s final moments and autopsy details. But, in
Rajiv Gandhi’s case, LTTE has been framed by the Indian investigators,
based on the 10 frames from a roll of Hari Babhu’s camera. But he was not
the only cameraman present on that fateful May 21, 1991 night in
Sriperumbudur. Even as acknowledged by Mr.Kartikeyan, there were
numerous other still photographers and video photographers who had
captured the final moments of Rajiv Gandhi’s life. What happened to all
those photos? Why these photos have not been placed in public domain?
Why none of the post-mortem autopsy photos of Rajiv Gandhi, Dhanu and
Sivarasan have been released to the public?

The Oswald and Ruby of the Rajiv assassination


The secrets behind the assassination of John Kennedy were held by his
assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who in turn was assassinated by Jack Ruby.
Oswald died two days following Kennedy’s assassination and Ruby was
reported dead in January 3, 1967 due to prostrate cancer. In Rajiv Gandhi’s
assassination, the roles of Oswald and Ruby were played by Dhanu and
Sivarasan. Dhanu died together with Rajiv on May 21, 1991 and Sivarasan
was reported ‘dead’ in August 20, 1991 - three months following Rajiv’s
assassination.

The parallels are remarkable, but with one striking difference. Quite a few
books have been written about both Oswald and Ruby by a number of
independent investigators of JFK assassination. At least that much
information (verified and unverified) has been made available. Contrastingly,
though over ten years have passed after Rajiv assassination, not a single
book has appeared on either Dhanu or Sivarasan. Why? I am under the
impression that whatever information available on both Dhanu and
Sivarasan have been suppressed by the Indian intelligence agencies, since if
all the details are revealed, their Procrustean data-torturing technique
linking Pirabhakaran to Rajiv assassination would crumble.

Another noteworthy issue to ponder is why during the last 10 years, not a
single piece of evidence (video or audio or photograph or letter) had
turned up linking Pirabhakaran with either Sivarasan or Dhanu. If such
evidence existed, the SIT officials and Indian journalists would have
exploited that to maximum. In the absence of such evidence (contradicting
the oft-repeated hyperbole of journalists belonging to the Chicken Little
Circuit that LTTE penchantly produces photographic records for posterity)
questions arise whether those two prime assassins linked to Rajiv Gandhi

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assassination did belong to LTTE.

This forms the nucleus of the conspiracy angle of this assassination.

Meager Details on Sivarasan and Dhanu


The India Today magazine first published meager details on Sivarasan and
Dhanu in its Aug.31, 1991 issue. These details made interesting reading, and
I provide my annotations within parentheses for additional queries.
Key Suspects: Identity Crisis
by Anirudhya Mitra
“The on-going investigations reveal that he is a man with many names.
In the murder of Rajiv Gandhi he was known to the police as
Sivarasan, Shivaraj and Thurai. In the killing of EPRLF leader
Padmanabha and 14 others in Madras he gained notoriety as
Raghuvaran and Raghuappa. Apparently, he assumes a different name
for each operation. But his real name is Raja Arumainayagam. He is
currently the most hunted criminal in the country carrying a reward of
Rs.10 lakh on his head. [Note by Sri Kantha: Though the date-line of
the magazine issue stated Aug.31, 1991, by which time Sivarasan was
reported dead on Aug.20, the magazine was released to the newsstand
a fortnight earlier. This explains the discrepancy in this statement.]
Sivarasan, 32, is an employee of the Sri Lankan Government in the
eastern province. Originally from Chavakcherri village in Jaffna, he
graduated in humanities, but it is his other qualifications which earned
him the trust of the LTTE. He was LTTE’s prime hit man, thanks
mainly to his ability to speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi
fluently. [Note: This sentence is a gibberish. What is the correlation
between good marksmanship and language fluency? One is a verbal
skill, while the other one is a practical skill which develops following
rigorous training!] Contrary to reports, his Tamil is sans a Lankan
accent. [Note: Again, this statement is puzzling. Even though he was
supposed to be Jaffna origin, he was able to mask the Lankan accent.
In combination with the previous statement that Sivarasan was
supposed to be fluent in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi – these
languages being not used in wider context in Sri Lanka – simple
inference one can make from both these statements is that Sivarasan
was an Indian, and not a Jaffna person. I’m not stating that this was
indeed true, but this could be a matching possibility. See the next
statement also.] He is also familiar with Indian topography which has
served him in good stead in eluding the slew of super sleuths who are
tailing him. [Note: This statement reiterates the impression that he
could have been an Indian as well.]

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One of his big advantages is the stark contrast between his side and
front profiles. There is hardly any similarity between Haribabu’s
photograph of him, which is a side pose, and the front view which
appears on his driving license. [Note: It is not clear, which driving
license? Indian or Sri Lankan?]
But today Sivarasan seems to have been discarded by the Tigers. With
most of his disguises having been publicized, he is no longer good
enough for ‘shadow work’. He is also too junior to be inducted into the
LTTE cabinet. [Note: This sentence hides the fact that, he was alleged
to have ‘belonged’ to another Tamil rebel group, identified as TELO,
which received official patronage from the Indian intelligence agencies
in mid 1980s. Or could it be, that he was inserted as a ‘mole’ by the
Indian intelligence-wallahs to penetrate LTTE, following its
decimation of TELO in 1986? Sivarasan appears as a stranger in
pre-1991 LTTE line-up, since he is not mentioned even once in the
Broken Palmyra book (published in 1990), authored by anti-LTTE
activists Rajan Hoole et al., whereas Pirabhakaran’s other leading
associates receive mention.] He lost his only brother, Arumai, 25, in an
IPKF operation in 1988.
The woman who died while killing Rajiv, Dhanu alias Gayatri, is
Sivarasan’s cousin. But little else is known about her. Aged 24, she
came from a village in Jaffna, called Kupukullai. Intelligence agencies
have supplied some of her old pictures to the investigators. When one
such picture was shown to the Forensic Science Department, its
Director P.Chandra Sekharan said he was fairly certain that it was hers,
taken four years ago in Jaffna.
Shubha or Shalini, who carries a reward of Rs.5 lakh, is also
Sivarasan’s cousin. Aged 27, Shubha like Sivarasan stayed back after
the assassination to complete unfinished business. Like Dhanu, she too
is from Kupukullai. She is slightly handicapped, her right leg being
shorter than the left.” [India Today magazine, Aug.31, 1991]

Nine months later, after the SIT officials released their initial charge sheet
on Rajiv assassination trial on May, 1992, the India Today magazine
provided profiles of Sivarasan and Dhanu for the second time. These two
profiles, presented by Anirudhya Mitra and Prakash Swamy, had revised the
‘purported real names’ of two assassins, from the Aug.31, 1991 detail.
Sivarasan has been now identified as Packiachandran and not Raja
Arumainayagam. Dhanu has been now identified as Kalaivathi and not
Gayatri. To quote,
Sivarasan: Born to Kill
“It was, by far, the biggest assignment of his terrorist career. But

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Sivarasan, 33, the mastermind behind the Rajiv Gandhi assassination,


had embarked on his hit-and-run course many years ago. The SIT
probe has thrown some light on Sivarasan’s chequered past.

Indoctrinated by his father, a TULF leader, [Note: This is an


exaggeration. His father could have been an ardent TULF supporter] at
a very young age, Sivarasan was first arrested in Batticaloa for
distributing leaflets containing pro-Eelam views. While in custody, he
wrote Long Live Tamil Eelam on the walls of the lock-up and was
severely beaten up for it. This, it seems, marked the beginning of his
extremist career.
In 1983, Sivarasan joined the TELO and left for India soon after. Here,
he received extensive training in handling explosives. [Note: This is
interesting, but hides the significant details. Who gave the extensive
training? – RAW personnel of course!] He also had an amazing
aptitude for learning languages, and picked up all the south Indian
languages. A year later, factional rivalry forced him to return home and
join the LTTE. His new name was Raghu (Sivarasan – whose real name
was Packiachandran – used many aliases: Sivarajan, Rajan, Aravinth).
For many years, Sivarasan worked in the LTTE’s political wing and
was responsible for collecting funds from Udupidy, a job at which he
was ruthlessly competent. He played an active role during the IPKF
operation, even filling in as commander of Vadamarachchi. [Note:
These statements do not stand up to scrutiny, since as I had mentioned
already, if Sivarasan was such an outstanding LTTE activist, he would
have received mention in the Broken Palmyrah book authored by
anti-LTTE activists Rajan Hoole et al., which was released in 1990.]
Still, he was not promoted and remained a lieutenant. His first real
break came when he was asked to join the Black Tigers commando
force – the suicide squad. Heading the nine-member core assassination
team was fraught with danger. And it eventually cost him his life.”
[India Today magazine, May 31, 1992, p.45]

If Sivarasan’s profile provided by the SIT officials was full of holes, the
same applied to identified woman assassin Dhanu’s profile as well.
Dhanu: An Enigma
“ She holds the unhappy distinction of being the first-ever human
bomb in the country’s history. In LTTE circles, Dhanu, 24, whose real
name was Kalaivathi, is held in some awe. So much so that at a public
function held in Jaffna last year, Pirabhakaran honoured her father
posthumously with a ‘gold medal’ for her role in the assassination of
Rajiv Gandhi. [Note by Sri Kantha: This piece of information is like
placing the cart before the horse. Subramanian Swamy records in his
Rajiv Gandhi assassination book, that on June 11, 1991, Pirabhakaran

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honored Eelam activist A.Rajaratnam in a public function held in


Jaffna. By this, the Indian investigators of Rajiv assassination arrived at
the conclusion that Dhanu was the assassin. At that time, Dhanu’s
identity was unclear even to the SIT officials. Evidence for this is
revealed by Justice K.T.Thomas, in his supreme court verdict who
recorded that it was from the confession of Athirai, the 8th accused in
the Rajiv assassination trial, that “we got the idea of placement of
Thanu and Suba in the LTTE ranking. The former was a member of
‘Black Women Tiger’ and the latter was a member of the Army branch
of LTTE.” (p. 39 of Justice Thomas’s verdict). When did, Athirai offer
her confession? According to Justice D.P.Wadhwa’s supreme court
verdict, Athirai’s confession was recorded on Aug.29, 1991 – nine
days after the reported death of Sivarasan and Subha (p.46 of Justice
Wadhwa’s verdict.) Thus, the purported link of Pirabhakaran honoring
Eelam activist Rajaratnam in June 1991 to assassin Dhanu is tenuous.]
Dhanu, who studied till middle school in Batticaloa, was inspired by
the Tamil liberation movement at a very young age. In fact, her father,
A.Rajaratnam, who is described as Pirabhakaran’s mentor, played a
crucial role in moulding the LTTE chief’s thinking during the
movement’s formative years between 1972 and 1975. His articles were
published in pro-LTTE magazines such as Veera Vengai and
Courageous Tigers. And the SIT is now producing these articles as
evidence to bolster its argument that Dhanu had been indoctrinated by
her father and this is what motivated the crime rather than her reported
rape by the IPKF which, the SIT believes, is part of a disinformation
campaign spread by the LTTE.
Dhanu has only one sister, who lives in France. But attempts by SIT
officials to elicit information from her have so far drawn a blank.
Exactly what prompted Dhanu to undertake her terrible mission is
destined to remain an impenetrable mystery. Perhaps forever.” [India
Today magazine, May 31, 1992, p.45]

The Supreme Court verdicts delivered by Justice Wadhwa, Justice Thomas


and Justice Quadri are markedly silent on assassin Dhanu’s background. No
mention was made in these verdicts about the reported pro-LTTE magazines
Veera Vengai and Courageous Tigers. Thus, after 10 years on the strength
of Supreme Court verdicts, one can infer that it was the SIT officials who
had spread the disinformation campaign to bolster their Procrustean
data-torturing techniques. This is substantiated by J.Ranganath’s (the 26th
accused in the assassination trial) revelation in 1999.

Ranganath’s Explosive Revelation on Sivararasan


Despite the smearing campaign conducted by the SIT official Kartikeyan and

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supreme egotist Subramanian Swamy, J.Ranganath has gained credibility.


Though he was charged as the 26th accused in the Rajiv Gandhi
assassination trial in 1992, he was acquitted by the Supreme Court verdicts,
delivered on May 11, 1999. His interview to the Indian weekly news
magazine The Week of June 6, 1999 shed some light on the conspirators, and
who aided and abetted the conspirators. I reproduce in length, Ranganath’s
interview to reporter E.Vijayalakshmi.
“Immediately after his release on May 12 [1999], Ranganath vanished,
apparently somewhere in Bangalore, and on May 23 [1999], the Tamil
Nadu government assigned an armed security guard for him because of
threats to his life. He has been frequently shifting residence and says
his ‘days are numbered’. The Week met him at a lodge in Chennai.
Excerpts from his explosive account:
‘I know my days are numbered because I am opposing Chandraswami,
Kartikeyan and a few Congress goons. I thank the government of Tamil
Nadu for the security they have given me.
August 2, 1991 was the darkest day in my life. Between 10.45 and 11
pm there was a knock on the door in my house at Putanhally in
Banglore. Thinking it was friends, I opened the door without asking
their identity. It was a mistake. A man, whom I later came to know as
Suresh Master, pointed a handgun at me and told me to get inside.
Only my wife was there. He said he wanted to talk. I asked him why
then he had the gun. He said he was aware that members of my family
were staying in different parts of Bangalore. I immediately understood
that I was in a trap. Subha, Sivarasan, a driver ‘anna’ and a Nehru were
with him… I had to carry out their orders. I arranged food for them.
My wife and I had a quarrel; she didn’t want to stay with me with these
people around.
On the third day I came to know that I was harbouring Sivarasan. He
was standing in front of the mirror and adjusting his false eye…
Sivarasan told me about the smell of lotus when he visited
Chandraswami’s ashram, 140 km from Delhi on the Haridwar route,
about 40 days before the assassination. He went there on a chartered
flight that Chandraswami arranged to witness a ‘yagna’ for the success
of the mission to kill Rajiv Gandhi. Chandraswami blessed his guns.
That room was filled with lotus flowers and the next room was filled
with lemons. He told that he didn’t believe in this kind of superstition,
but it clicked.
He said he could have shot Rajiv Gandhi and consumed the cyanide
capsule or vanished in the crowd. But Chandraswami wanted a mass
killing so that he could recover his debt from abroad. And he showed
me the suitcase with wheels which was filled with US dollars and

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travellers’ cheques. They said they wouldn’t use this money for food.
In fact they would only eat bread and drink plain tea.
Sivarasan said that after completing another work, they would be flown
to a European country and from there he would go to Jaffna. He said
that he belonged to a splinter group of the LTTE, his mother tongue
was Sinhalese and he was working in a government firm. He was with
TELO before that. He was tortured by the Sri Lankan government
while writing something on the wall. Then he joined the LTTE, and
after some training, left the place. He came to Delhi in order to settle in
Europe. There he met Chandraswami. Sivarasan used to mention
‘Mamaji’ very frequently…”

On Sivarasan’s status and his links to Chandraswami


According to Ranganath, Sivarasan had told him that he belonged to a
‘splinter group’ of LTTE. To quote,
“Sivarasan said he had never missed an RPG aimed at tanks. He told
me his splinter group had about 15 women in its cadre and around 35
sympathisers. He had gone to Chandraswami’s ashram for monetary
help, and had done two or three jobs for him abroad. As for killing
Rajiv Gandhi, Sivarasan said his godfather had told him to do it.
Sivarasan said Chandraswami, who had financed him, had a link with
William Webster, ex-head of an American intelligence agency, who
had become the head of the Heritage Foundation here. Chandraswami,
it seems, is very close to him. So money was not a problem for any
kind of work he wanted.
The big suitcase with wheels was missing when the police raided my
Bangalore house where Sivarasan and others stayed for 16 days. Until
August 18 we were together. On that day I came out, met DCP
Kempayya and surrendered to him. And on August 19 Sivarasan died. I
was called to identify the bodies after they had raided the place. When
I went I could see ash everywhere. The suitcase was missing. Some
people were cleaning the place. I saw half-burnt currency in the big
sump.”
Shielding Chandraswami by bullying and torturing Ranganath
Then, Ranganath pointed his guns (figuratively!) on the SIT chief
D.R.Kartikeyan for distorting the evidence and threatening him utter
consequences if Chandraswami’s links were revealed further. To quote
Ranganath,
“My conscience told me that the police were the real culprits. At the
same time the junior officers were doing their duty well. SIT chief
D.R.Kartikeyan was knowingly shielding Chandraswami and others. I
know Karthikeyan was close to Rajiv Gandhi. But I don’t know what

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made him shield Chandraswami. But he did.


I had asked Sivarasan how he had managed to go to Sriperumbudur
though he was not very fluent in Tamil spoken in Tamil Nadu. He said
he was ready as he had got Rajiv Gandhi’s tour programme three days
before the local Congress people came to know about it. He said he got
it from his sources in the office of a former woman Union Minister.
[Note by Sri Kantha: This politician was Ms. Margaret Alva. Read
below.]
I am ready to appear before the Congress Working Committee and the
Youth Congress people to answer their questions. If there is a trace of
doubt that I had anything to do with Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, they
can stone me to death. The place I stayed belonged to E.Anjanayappa,
the Karnataka Congress president. He is the brother of Ashok Narayana
who is like Margaret Alva’s PA. According to Sivarasan, Alva charted
Rajiv’s tour two days before he came to Tamil Nadu…
Indian investigating agencies had a nexus with Chandraswami. While I
was in SIT custody, I was taken to the Kumarakrupa guest house near
the Asoka Hotel in Bangalore by a DIG from Delhi who had settled in
Bangalore. There were twin bungalows there. I was handcuffed and
made to sit on the floor. One gentleman came there and he was wearing
a rudraksha mala. He asked the DIG in Hindi, ‘Yeh sala hai kya?’ I
had pretended that I didn’t know Hindi. The DIG told me to stand but
I just bowed my head. This man asked, ‘What is he expecting?’ The
DIG told me that I should obey the SIT chief, I would get less
punishment if I did, and that I should not tell what I had heard from
Sivarasan about Chandraswami. Later on I knew that man was
‘Mamaji’.
When I was in illegal custody Kartikeyan told somebody in Delhi on
the phone in my presence: ‘Yeh sale ko sabi maloom hoga, ab kya
karna padege?’ This was at the CBI office in Bangalore. I was taken to
the Jayanagar police station. I met Kartikeyan. I told them everything.
But Kartikeyan told me to be silent about the Delhi connection and
said I could reveal everything at the CBI office. He asked how I could
discuss the matter with the local police. I told him I couldn’t
distinguish between the different police.
Karthikeyan asked me how I had come to know about Chandraswami. I
told him I was moving closely with Sivarasan. He said they must have
referred to some other name. He became violent and told me not to
mention Chandraswami’s name. ‘Are you aware of the capacity of
Chandraswami?’ he asked me. I told him I was not bothered about
Chandraswami. The police officers tortured me. You can see my
middle finger. They pierced it and passed electricity through it. They

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told me not to say anything about this, not to repeat Chandraswami’s


name.” [The Week magazine, June 6, 1999]

Credibility of Ranganath
How much one can rely on Ranganath’s information relating to Sivarasan’s
activities need to be assessed critically. From May 1992 to April 1999,
while he was an accused in the Rajiv assassination trial, Ranganath’s
position in the credibility totem pole was low. Contrastingly, the SIT official
Kartikeyan’s credibility was in zenith. But on May 11, 1999, tables were
turned and Karikeyan’s credibility sank to nadir, and Ranganath’s credibility
rose. Acquitting Ranganath, Justice Thomas had written in his verdict,
“The trial court at the close of the discussion of evidence against A-26
[i.e, Accused 26] has entered the following finding in paragraph 2419
of the Judgment:
‘From the foregoing discussion and analysis of evidence proved by the
prosecution it has to be concluded that A-26 harboured Sivarasan and
Suba, who were proclaimed offenders and the other accused A-24
Rangan, Nehru, Suresh Master, Driver Anna and Amman in his house
at Puttanahalli and subsequently at Konanakunte voluntarily and
willingly without any fear to his life.’
The above is the only finding on facts which the learned trial Judge
[Note by Sri Kantha: i.e., Navaneetham, whose credibility also sank
abysmally on May 11, 1999] appears to have made regarding the role
of A-26. Thereafter no discussion is seen made about his activities. But
learned Judge had held in paragraph 2451, that A-26 is also guilty of
the offence under Section 120-B read with Section 302 IPC and rest of
the offences included in the charge…
But at the same time we have to point out that there is absolutely no
evidence whatsoever for connecting A-26 with the conspiracy to
assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. In fact, the prosecution did not even bother
to establish that A-26 had no knowledge that anybody would be
plotting to murder Rajiv Gandhi. It is very unfortunate that the trial
court has convicted A-26 also of the offence under Section 120-B read
with Section 302 IPC and sentenced him to be hanged.” [pp.64-65 of
Justice Thomas’s verdict]

Thus, I tend to believe that Ranganath has gained some credibility.


Therefore, one tidbit he had stated in his 1999 interview about Sivarasan’s
travels prior to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, puzzles me. He had observed
that, Sivarasan had told him that “he visited Chandraswami’s ashram, 140
km from Delhi on the Hardwar rout, about 40 days before the assassination.
He went there on a chartered flight that Chandraswami arranged to witness a

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‘yagna’ for the success of the mission to kill Rajiv Gandhi. Chandraswami
blessed his guns.” 40 days before the assassination can be placed to around
April 10, 1991. This schedule does not align properly with the
pre-assassination travel schedule of Sivarasan prepared by the SIT
officials. According to Justice Wadhwa’s supreme court verdict, Sivarasan
had spent much of the time between February and end of April in Sri Lanka,
with only one annotation around April 24, 1991 stating that “He was at
Madras in the house of Vijayan (A-12)” [pp.42-43 of the verdict].

The possibility that Sivarasan could have lied about his links with
Chandraswami to Ranganath cannot be denied. If that be the case, then
Kartikeyan also has some explanation to do to convince the public why he
bullied and tortured Ranganath to hide any information pertaining to
Sivarasan’s links to Chandraswami. It could be that, like Jack Ruby who had
links to the FBI, Sivarasan also had deeper links with the Indian
intelligence-wallahs. This is one reason why, as discussed in chapter 31 of
this series, Sivarasan’s mortal remains was disposed quickly – rather than
being exhibited as a ‘precious trophy’ representing a vanquished LTTE
activist. [Continued.]

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