Film throws new light on Rajiv assassins
A new Malayalam film based on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and its aftermath blames DR Karthikeyan, chief of the Special Investigation Team which probed the case, for the failure to capture most of Gandhi’s killers alive.
The film-maker’s credentials are impeccable. He is Major Raveendran AK, who headed the National Security Guard (NSG) team which, on August 18, 1991, stormed the Bangalore building where the one-eyed Sivarasan and some of his accomplices were hiding, only to find that most of them had committed suicide.
"The head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) wanted to be personally present when the hideout was stormed. So we kept waiting for him to arrive. This unwanted delay gave Sivarasan enough time to kill himself," Raveendran said at a ‘face-to-face’ programme at the local press club on Sunday.
Raveendran maintained that Karthikeyan had been in Hyderabad when the Sivarasan hideout was located He even cites a book Karthikeyan later wrote as evidence.
"We were asked to wait. Things would have been different if we could have conducted the operation on the same night we found the house. It still haunts me that we could not catch Sivarasan alive," he said. "I do not think he did it intentionally. But it was a major goof up."
An indignant Karthikeyan, contacted in Venice where he is attending a conference, strongly denied the charge. "This is far from the truth. I was very much at the spot on that day," he said. "Actually we had to wait for the CBI to rush teams and equipment to handle the situation. Other CBI officials will bear me out. It was a case of we shoot them, or they shoot us."
Called Mission 90 Days, the film stars southern superstar Mamooty who plays the role of Raveendran. "This is an excerpt from my life. It is based on my personal experience of leading that operation," Raveendran said. He denied that his revelations were aimed at attracting publicity for his new film. "A soldier will never do such a thing," he said.
Raveendran’s first film Keerthi Chakra was released last year and won rave reviews.
(Input from Shekhar Iyer in Delhi)