A twisted terror tale

The support and effort to get Rajiv killers out of jail, though outrageous to many, fits perfectly into TN’s political scheme. Here tiger-riding is a populist past-time, particularly during poll-time and no politico would miss an opportunity to score a goal or two. But the striking unanimity amidst all political players here, a unanimity that has evolved most in the post-Prabhakaran era, also goes beyond possible poll gains and straddles the realms of sentiment.

In fact, I even doubt if this isssue is a vote gainer at all; on the contrary it runs the risk of alienating those concerned with national security. After all, there can be no justification, emotional or electoral, for terrorists and assassins to walk free. If still sympathy for killers has swelled here, it is directly because of the dilution of Rajiv’s case at the national level and it getting dissolved in the larger cauldron of SL Tamil politics and plight. Rajiv’s ghost will have to reckon with many painful but plain truths.

The flip-flops of various TN politicians vis-a-vis the SL Tamil issue ended with the decimation of the LTTE in May ‘09. The unmistakable Hand of the Indian Government in Rajapakse’s war efforts is a matter of profound pain for genuine as well as opportunist sympathisers of SL Tamils. There are those who justifiably feel that the Congress has already had its revenge by aiding in no mean measure the elimination of Prabhakaran and his clan, along with the whole of his outfit. And now, it is the genocide of Tamils by Rajapakse’s army hordes that dominates discourse, not only in TN but also globally, but strangely barring the regime in Delhi. The Centre’s obvious indifference to the rehabilitation of SL Tamils, its blind eye to the killing of Indian fishermen who happen to be Tamils and its endearing approach to the SL regime on the pretext of geo-politics have all added salt, earning even the LTTE some posthumous pity. Such larger injustice to a larger band of bretheren has shrunk justice for Rajiv in the Tamil eye, probably.

The Congress party and particularly its leaders in TN, have all exhumed Rajiv many a time only to bury him deeper. In the aftermath of the assassination, the Cong in one voice accused the DMK of colluding with LTTE and abetting the murder. A bulk of senior TN Cong leaders later formed the Tamil Maanila Congress and aligned with DMK, giving a complete clean chit to the latter. The Cong at the national level withdrew support to the UF government only on the strength of the Jain Commission reports which detailed the DMK’s role in the run upto the assassination. Yet the Cong had no qualms in sleeping with the DMK later and for longer, and even parenting some of the spectacular scams in national history. All this time Rajiv was resting in peace, forgotten and his killers’ ‘friends’ forgiven. Again, in the last ten years of its rule, if the Cong regime had been as diligent in pursuing and putting an end to this Presidential pardon business as it has been in corruption and cover-ups, Rajiv’s killers would have joined him in the unknown beyond long back.

It would be cruel to belittle Rajiv family’s anguish. But Rahul’s concern about ‘justice for common man when even an ex-PM is denied justice’ sounds hollow. That the killers of Rajiv will have to go to the gallows was the original verdict of the law of the land. Justice was rendered. But what did he, as a common man and an aggrieved son, do to ensure justice was indeed delivered too? After all, he was no ordinary ‘common man’! How many times did his mother, as a wife and as the all powerful Cong President who appoints even national Presidents, insist on rejection of the mercy petitions when it was obvious that delay would constitute denial of justice to ‘their’ Rajiv? Instead, in a wholly illegal and unwarranted interference, she played Mother Superior, outlawed our law, and sought pardon for Nalini. Can her regime or a puppet Prez miss the signal? Again, is it not of national and legal interest what transpired between Priyanka and Nalini in Vellore prison, during that outright improper, impromptu metting? If, Rajiv’s family wants to be humanitarian by half, can they blame the law and other politicos when they go the whole hog? For the record, the first family’s sterling sympathies were denied to the twenty odd security personnel who died defending Rajiv! Talk of common man!

I can’t fathom the legal maze either. The apex court did suggest remission when it commuted the death sentences to life. Now, is the nation fine with remission for terrorists and assassins if the ‘due process of law and laid down precedures’ are followed? Can the Presidential Pardon loophole become a green channel for anti-nationals? How can such merciful laws and a moth-ridden system manage the menace of terrorism?

Rajiv’s assassination was a crime against the country. That his killers can go ‘legally’ free is a national tragedy and shame. But it is not just petty regional politics or some individual whim that has enabled it. Rather some prolonged silences, selective actions and a slew of political and personal calculations by no less than Rajiv’s kith, kin and his kept party and partymen, apart from strange legal interpretations from the keepers of justice have conspired to keep his killers alive and kicking.

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Jawahar T R