NIA chief Raju is an authority on LTTE (Profile)

January 15th, 2009 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The first chief of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a low profile and a no-nonsense officer who played a key role in proving the hand of the Tamil Tigers in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. But Radha Vinod Raju is also a deeply spiritual man and loves singing old Hindi film songs.Raju, who will turn 60 in July, will bring to the newly set up NIA a wealth of experience gathered as a dogged investigator during the many years he has spent in the Jammu and Kashmir Police as well as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Police and intelligence officers who have worked with Raju describe him as a hard working and honest officer who judges his colleagues solely by their professional achievements. He is known for his sharp memory and analytical skills and detests sycophancy, says his former colleagues.

On Monday, Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced Raju’s appointment as head of NIA which will probe all terrorist crimes in the country. The NIA’s immediate task would be building a dedicated core group of investigating officers drawn from central and state police forces.

A man of few words, Raju is hesitant to talk about his new assignment. Raju told IANS over telephone from Jammu: “I would like to see the whole matter in Delhi, discuss with officers and government. My role will be defined by law.”

Born in Kochi July 27, 1949, Raju is a science graduate from Kerala who speaks Konkani, English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. He began his career with the Bank of India before joining the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1975.

Beginning as an assistant superintendent of police in Jammu and Kashmir, the cadre he was assigned, Raju joined the CBI in 1983 before he was reverted back to the state where he served in a variety of positions, including the Jammu district police chief and the deputy inspector general of south Kashmir.

His skills came to the fore in 1991 when he joined the CBI’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the killing of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 near Chennai. Raju headed the team of officers who hunted down Tamil Tiger suspects and their sympathisers in Tamil Nadu - and beyond.

In the process, Raju has widely come to be seen as an authority on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), one of the deadliest insurgent groups in the world.

Raju returned to the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 1998 and was the Crime Branch inspector general for a year and the inspector general of Jammu zone for two and a half years. He also briefly headed the Jammu and Kashmir Police Academy at Udhampur.

After another stint with the CBI in 2002-03, Raju became the vigilance commissioner in Jammu and Kashmir. He was then named the deputy inspector general in charge of the police headquarters. He went back to the CBI as a joint director, was promoted the additional director and returned to Jammu and Kashmir in September 2008 as the director general of police.

A devotee of 19th century spiritual sage Ramakrishna Paramhans, Raju is known to read the Bhagavad Gita every night before retiring to bed. When he can, he loves to hear - and sing - old Hindi film songs rendered by Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh.

Police officers in Jammu and Kashmir, where a separatist insurgency raging since 1989 has claimed thousands of lives, speak about Raju with awe.

“He is an upright and honest officer all through his career,” Superintendent of Police Javaid Koul told IANS in Srinagar. Added Sheikh Owais, an inspector general: “Raju is soft spoken and polite but professionally very demanding. He is the right man for the right job.”

Said an intelligence officer in New Delhi: “The government has chosen the best man for the job.”

Secular to the core, Raju hopes to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine before flying to New Delhi Saturday to start heading an organisation that will deal with terrorism, counterfeit currency, human trafficking, narcotics, organised crime, hijacking and other serious crimes.

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