Shroud over conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi assassination (Seventeen years on)

May 20th, 2008 - 12:19 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Princess Diana
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Seventeen years have passed since former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber, but the monitoring agency constituted to probe the conspiracy is far from wrapping up its decade-long investigations. The multi-disciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) was formed in 1998. It has been probing the alleged role of controversial self-styled godman Chandraswami and leaders of the Sri Lanka-based Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelem (LTTE) in Gandhi’s assassination May 21, 1991, in Tamil Nadu.

“We have sent letters rogatory (legal letters of request for help or LRs) to various countries out of which some have responded and some have not,” said G. Mohanty, spokesman of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that probed the assassination.

The MDMA has sent LRs to 27 countries, of which only six have responded and this lack of cooperation is impeding the probe into the conspiracy angle, he added.

“All the investigations have to be done by the countries to which LRs have been sent. We can proceed only after the responses come from them,” Mohanty maintained.

The LRs relate to Chandraswami’s links with the now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International, where a senior LTTE operative known as Kumaran Padmanabhan alias KP operated accounts.

Also being probed are Chandraswami’s alleged connections with major intelligence agencies like America’s CIA and Israel’s Mossad, and the role of 21 “suspects” who were not charged in the Gandhi killing.

Unwilling to reveal more details, Mohanty said: “The investigations are secret and cannot be revealed.”

The MDMA came into being on the recommendation of the Justice Milap Chand Jain, who was appointed in 1991 to probe Gandhi’s assassination independent of the CBI. In his nine-volume final report presented in 1998, Jain pointed to the need to probe three elements to uncover the conspiracy behind the killing.

These three aspects form the basis of the LRs the MDMA has sent out.

The MDMA has also despatched its investigators to various countries but failed to unearth anything on the conspiracy angle.

“We have sent our people to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Canada and Australia to investigate the matter. But the end of the tunnel is still far away,” an agency official said.

Despite its failure to unravel the mystery shrouding Gandhi’s assassination, the government has extended the term of the MDMA that expires May 31 by another year.

Giving reasons for the delay, another CBI official said the Gandhi assassination was akin to that of US president J.F. Kennedy and the accident that claimed the life of Britain’s Princess Diana.

“The assassination is similar to that of Kennedy’s and Diana’s accident with a meticulous cover-up involved. The investigations into these cases have dragged on for long because of their sheer complexity,” the CBI official said.

An LTTE human bomber assassinated Gandhi, 46, at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu May 21, 1991. Seventeen other people were also killed in the explosion and 44 injured.

A special court set up under the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act sentenced 26 accused, including five women, to death in the case. Among them is Nalini, the only surviving member of the squad that was formed to kill Gandhi.

Nalini has now sought early release from jail.

When it was constituted, the MDMA comprised officials from the CBI, the Indian Army’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Directorate of Enforcement. However, it has now been reduced to a skeletal staff.

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