In view of the Supreme Court verdict on Tuesday that commuted the death penalty of Rajiv Gandhi's killers to life term, citing the 11-year delay in deciding their mercy pleas, there is also a need for the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to be reopened and re-investigated.
The SC verdict saved three death row convicts—Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan—from the gallows. The apex court bench rejected the Centre's submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the prisoners still fit the bill to be hanged to death.
That the case should be reopened is not just this writer’s view alone. The Jain Commission of Inquiry, headed by former Delhi High Court chief justice MC Jain, which probed the conspiracy aspects of the 21 May 1991 assassination, had also pitched for the same when it had submitted its voluminous report to the Centre more than 15 years ago.
The Jain Commission had put its finger on a large number of grey areas in investigations done by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
This writer had followed it up with an investigative book Beyond the Tigers: Tracking Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination, published in 1998 by Kaveri Books, New Delhi. The book put a laser beam focus on the SIT’s shoddy investigations and demanded fresh investigations into the case.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had set up a Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) way back in 1998 to probe several dark areas in the case as flag-marked by the Jain Commission.
But the MDMA has done precious little. Nobody knows what the MDMA has done and what is the current status of the MDMA. For all practical purposes, the MDMA is a moribund body and has been so for years.
Shockingly, even during the UPA’s tenure in last one decade, the MDMA’s actions, or lack of action, are not known.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which planned and executed the assassination, had sent a series of coded wireless messages before and after the assassination. These wireless messages were intercepted by Indian security and intelligence agencies, particularly the naval intelligence and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), but unfortunately these could be decoded months after the assassination.
The LTTE wireless messages throw up a gold mine of information with regard to the Tigers’ plot to assassinate the former Indian prime minister.
Before I reproduce the LTTE wireless intercepts, a few things need to be mentioned.
1. These are "enclaire" messages (explained later) which are extremely tough to decode.
2. The messages are being reproduced verbatim without any editing or correcting spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Obviously, the decoders were aiming at cracking open these highly encrypted messages, rather than bothering about the Queen’s English!
3. Readers will do well to carefully see which message is emanating from whom and when. A brief introduction has been given upfront to facilitate this.
4. Many of these wireless intercepts have important clues and leads embedded in them which remain uninvestigated till date. This is a compelling reason for launching fresh investigations into the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, much like the John F Kennedy’s assassination which had to be investigated afresh after the public hue and cry.
5. Part 1 of this two-part series ends with an intercept dated 6 June, 1991, a fortnight after the assassination. The reason for this cutoff is that till this stage most of the actors in the assassination plot have figured and identified by way of asterisk-marked footnotes which the readers will do well to carefully notice.
6. The LTTE’s code names for some of the key actors in the assassination who are constantly referred to in these wireless messages are as follows – Dhanu (the suicide bomber): Anbu; Subha (Dhanu’s stand-by suicide bomber): Thatya; Murugan (one of the three death row convicts whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on Tuesday): Indu Master. The other key player Santhan (among the three death row convicts) has been referred to as ‘Shantham’, or ‘Shanthan’ or simply as Santhan.
Here is a reproduction of the LTTE’s wireless messages which is the Annexure Number 1 in this writer’s afore-mentioned book (Page 231-241):
(1) LTTE'S wireless messages
Following are some of the coded wireless messages transmitted between the LTTE bases in India and abroad before and after Rajiv’s assassination. These were intercepted by the Indian security agencies but decoded months after the assassination. As per the procedure after intercepting and recording code messages, transcripts are sent to the decoding section for breaking the code. After ten days of the recording of the intercepted messages, audio cassettes are used again for recording further messages.
The LTTE messages were transmitted from seven stations - Nos. 14, 31, 32, 33, 22, 91, 95 and 910. Station No. 14 was LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s base, station no. 91 was Pottu Amman’s base and station no. 95 and 910 were operated from Tamil Nadu. Messages transmitted from station nos. 91, 95 and 910 came to be monitored from 1991 beginning. Pottu Amman was in control of station nos. 91, 92 and 95. Station no 92 functioned from Jaffna and station no. 95 was a mobile base.
Some messages are reproduced below 22.3.1991 (95 to 91)
-- Will come to Madras. If it is Delhi lot of time and lot of effort will be required. If Neru comes, it will be good. Set can start.
91 to 95:
If I send one of my men, can you train him to drive in a crowded town? Buy a vehicle.
Leave on --- will reach you on (2 digits date) in the morning or evening. Better if Kodiakarai. At least 1,000 litres of petrol to be sent ---- send those two people. Send medicines and other things in the boat.
6.4.1991 (91-95)-11.50 to 12.25 first.
Don’t use knife on Chandrahasan. Hit with pistol. If you don’t have pistol you make arrangements. I will send etc. Kittu is in touch with Ragu.
I cannot send you men before the date given by you. If it is beyond that, make all connections and let me know.
7.5.1991 (95-91):-9-00 to 9.15 Hrs.
She is the eldest daughter in the house of Indu Master. Moving closely. Our intention is not known to anybody except ourselves. I have told her that it is to have the support of the party who will be coming to power. Here VP Singh is coming. We are receiving. Like that we are receiving all the leaders.
I am slowly approaching. If I tell our intention there is no doubt that she will stand firmly on our side.
We are moving with her closely, have full satisfaction. Girls are telling that the intention can be revealed to her and she can be believed.
If I return I will return as your man. We are strong in powder business.
22.5.1991 (91-95):-1.00 to 1.20 Hrs..
To..**..Don’t send long messages. It will create suspicion. There is a news that there is violence in your place. What is
Is there any incident of attack on Sri Lankan Tamils. The vehicle will come to any place of your choice on 2nd. Start and meet me.
Even to our people in higher places we informed that we have no connection with this.
25. 5.1991 (91-95)-07.30 Hrs.
Is the photo of ‘Anbu’* identifiable. 07.35 Hrs.
"Press cuttings" of all the newspapers are needed. 07.40 Hrs.
For Thatya+. As you told a strong foothold. I will later inform you about the task.
7.6.1991 (91-910):-8.00 to 8.25 Hrs.
To... Regarding Chandrahasan if it messes with knife finish him with pistol. If there is no facility to give pistol make arrangement and come.
9.6.1991 (910-91):-8.15 to 8.30 Hrs.
To... There is a news that one of my associates was caught at Nagapattinam and he has told all the things about me. Tomorrow 10.6.1991 night after 7.00 P.M. we will be waiting for the vehicle. Walkie No. 5212.
At present even if there is no wireless communication vehicle can be sent.
(To be concluded)
Chandrahasan is a Sri Lankan Tamil leader based in Madras who runs a refugee organisation called organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OFERR). He has been anti-LTTE.
** The conversation between two LTTE bases transcribed in the transcripts before and after the transmission of messages in code language is known as "Enclaire Messages" in the intelligence parlance. Most often, these enclaire messages are broken because the sender keeps changing frequencies too swiftly for the interceptor to react. That is why it is difficult quite often to make sense out of such messages.
* LTTE’s code name for Dhanu.
+ Code name for Subha. Again, this message is apparently unintelligi¬ble. Actually, her code-name was Nitya. While decoding, ‘Ni’ become ‘Tha’.
The writer is a FirstPost columnist who tweets @Kishkindha.
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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2014 08:54:58 IST