‘Nalini still in prison unfortunate’

Former CBI official K Ragothaman’s book titled The assassination of Mahatma-Indira_Rajiv Gandhi was released by the Madras High Court Judge Justice P N Prakash at a function held in Chennai recently. Former CBI special director K Saleem Ali received the first copy.

Chennai: The Madras High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by Nalini, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who sought release based on a Tamilnadu Cabinet decision, holding that the State Governor’s consent was mandatory to give effect to it.

Former CBI officer and one of the investigating officers in the Rajiv assassination case, K Ragothaman feels that Nalini should be pardoned and released. NewsToday spoke to Ragothaman, who has come out with his fourth book titled The assassination of Mahatma-Indira-Rajiv Gandhis.

Excerpts from the interview

Q. Did you face any threat to your life or interference during the course of the investigation ?
A. Yes, several attempts were made. Since, Nalini’s husband Murugan was with us, there was a bomb blast threat. When we received this information, we took extra care. Only minimum officers were allowed to interrogate Murugan. We were provided with bullet proof car and security 24/7.

Q. Your take on the seven convicts, including Nalini being still in prison ?
A. In my opinion, the government of India should reconsider their request. They should not languish in the jail for long time.

Q. When will the case see an end?
A. We are in a democratic country and eye-for-an eye is not the answer. The seven accused – Nalini, Murugan, A G Perarivalan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Ravichandran and Robert Pyas – cannot be equated with Godse or Satwant Singh. They have spent 25 years in prison which is beyond the Supreme Court’s standard of maximum life sentence of 14 years.

Q. Did the Indian Intelligence Agencies or the Home Ministry receive any input regarding the high threat to the life of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
A. It was informed to the then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar by an emissary of Palestenian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yassar Arafat. He had said to the Indian government to take care and provide adequate security to Rajiv Gandhi. ‘Some militant organisation is planning to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi during election meeting,’ the emissary had said.

Q. It is said top politicians were not at the place during explosion and they knew about it. Is it true?
A. There are some evidence that some knew it was dangerous to be in that place. Suppression of facts happened in this case, including Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi assassination case.

Q. What made you to come up with the book now ?
A. Till now no body has written combining the investigation of the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. This is the first attempt I made in Rajiv Gandhi case. I went through the Verma Commission Report. My aim is to expose to the public how our intelligence agencies failed to protect our leaders. The book gives the detailed accounts of the investigation and also exposes the persons behind the disinformation campaign and reveals how the CBI investigation was meddled with and politicians were allowed to go scot free

Samuel P