"They are chasing us like dogs,” Sivarasan, who commanded the LTTE unit that assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, told an accomplice while on the run in June 1991, about the CBI Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Tracking down Sivarasan was possibly the best in his career, but Radhavinod Raju will have more daunting tasks ahead. On Monday, he is taking over as the first chief of the newly formed National Investigative Agency (NIA).
Much before he was drafted into SIT — second to its chief DR Karthikeyan — Raju’s track record as an investigator was so established that he had even inspired a blockbuster Malayalam film, Oru CBI Diary Kurippu in 1988.
Actor Mammootty played the CBI officer named Sehturama Iyer and the movie broke all box-office records in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
“The story was based on a murder case that Raju investigated. Though we made slight changes in the storyline, we were particular enough not to lose the detective thrill of the plot,” recalled director K. Madhu. Raju, characteristically, does not want to comment and thinks this is “unnecessary hype”.
Raju was with the CBI when the Kerala High Court asked the agency to investigate the death of one Peethambaran. A hotel employee, he had fallen down from the terrace and told one line to the police before breathing his last: “They killed me.” The Kerala police shut the case as suicide, but the CBI investigation led to the arrest of the hotel owner, a politically influential moneybags. The murder investigation became a sensation in Kerala and so did the film. Mamooty played the same character in three more films, the latest in 2005.
“We were really inspired by the investigation techniques adopted by the agency,” Madhu said. S.N. Swamy, who wrote the film, said: “There wasn’t much publicity or fanfare in those days. Our story was woven around the unassuming, intelligent officer.”
Raju was with the CBI in Kerala between 1983 and 1989. Later, he was deputy inspector-general of Police in terrorism-hit Anantnag in Kashmir. Home minister P Chidambaram, who was then minister of state for internal security, noticed Raju’s work — perhaps leading to his new assignment.
Born in Fort Kochin, Kerala, in the family of a postmaster, Raju worked at the Bank of India for three years before joining IPS in 1975. About his new job, he says: “No hype please.”