‘Feel remorse over his lost years’: CBI man tells SC Perarivalan unaware about Rajiv conspiracy
‘Feel remorse over his lost years’: CBI man tells SC Perarivalan unaware about Rajiv conspiracy

‘Feel remorse over his lost years’: CBI man tells SC Perarivalan unaware about Rajiv conspiracy

"Wouldn't have come forward with admission if Perarivalan’s sentence was shorter," the officer tells TNM.

Almost two decades after AG Perarivalan was convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the investigating official who recorded his confession admits to the Supreme Court that he omitted a crucial part of the then 19-year-old's statement.

Former CBI officer V Thiagarajan tells TNM that Perarivalan had said that he was unaware of the purpose of the two nine volt batteries he was asked to buy. But the officer had failed to include it in his confession, as he assumed it would cast a shadow on the case or could have been a lie. 

In the affidavit dated October 27, 2017, a copy of which TNM has, the former CBI officer told the court that Perarivalan’s statement that 'he was totally in the dark as to the purpose for which the batteries were purchased was not recorded by me, because it would have been an exculpatory statement and hence the whole purpose of recording the confessional statement would be lost.' 

Even the knowledge that the batteries were used in the bomb was only a speculation after the event, admits the official. 'I did not deem it fit to record this exculpatory statement because the investigation regarding the bomb was pending at the time of recording the confessional statement and even till date,' he adds in his statement. 

The CBI official's admission, first made three years back to the media and in documentaries, has been for the first time accepted by the court. The Apex court has now sought the government's reply on Perarivalan's plea filed in 2016 to suspend his life sentence.

In his plea, Perarivalan has told the court that he was held guilty for supplying two nine volt batteries which were allegedly used in the improvised explosive device (IED) that killed Rajiv Gandhi. The conviction was done even as a probe by CBI's Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) relating to IED was still going on. It has been 18 years since the CBI began investigating the IED, its origin and how it was made, but there are no answers yet. 

Did the SIT fail Perarivalan?

"It was definitely a lapse of judgment on the part of the Special investigation team (SIT). But when you have 17 confessions and just one part of it is not corroborating, then it casts a shadow on the entire investigation," says the former CBI officer. "There was also the possibility that he was lying. And so I decided to omit that part, so that it doesn't affect the whole case," he adds. 

The official says it was natural that Perarivalan was thought to be guilty by association. But evidence that followed the confession, told a different tale. 

"In investigations subsequent to Perarivalan's confession, we found that he was not in the know about the use of the batteries. Evidence collected after his interrogation corroborated his version," admits Thiagarajan, who is currently in Bhuvaneshwar.

In his affidavit, the official opines that, 'This would mean that Perarivalan also would in no way have been able to know the conspiracy and its object. Hence a mere act of providing the 9 volt battery in first week of May 1991 would not make him privy and party to the said conspiracy....This would clearly show that the fact that Rajiv Gandhi was going to be assassinated was not at all in the knowledge of Perarivalan.'

What prompted him to submit the affidavit?

"Even now I would not have interfered if the punishment was for a shorter time," says the officer. "But the fact that he was facing a death sentence and now life imprisonment pricked my conscience and I felt I need to speak out," he adds. The SC remitted Perarivalan’s death sentence in 2014 and reduced it to life imprisonment.

'Despite the gracious and highly considerate kind of order of this Hon'ble Court as above, the accused Perarivalan continues to languish in jail even after a long and egregious lapse of 26 years with the prospect of getting the legitimate and long overdue remission if his remaining portion of sentence, becoming more and more distant and precarious, I now feel obliged, in good conscience to make this affidavit as the officer who recorded the confessional statement which has been heavily relied up on by this Hon'ble Court as well as by the TADA court,' reads the affidavit.

The official explains that his statement has been a matter of public discourse for three years now but with Perarivalan going to court on new grounds over the IED used in the assassination, his confession became relevant. 

"I definitely feel remorse for the loss over two decades of his life," says Thiagarajan. "If I had made this confession while in service, it would have never reached the public. I have to work within system when I am part of it. But now I can clear my conscience and I am doing it."

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