DISCUSSION UNDER RULE 193
ESCAPE FROM THE CUSTODY AND SUBSEQUENT DEATH OF SHRI SHANMUGAM, AN ACCUSED IN THE RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION CASE (Contd.) (English)
MR. SPEAKER : The Hon, Minister Shri Chavan will now reply to the discussion. ,
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (Shri S B Chavan) : Mr Speaker, Sir, I rise to clarify some of the points which the Hon. Members raised on the discussioin about th suicide committed by Shri Shanmugam, who is supposed to be one of the persons who gave very important information about unearthing of large number of explosives and other material.
SHRI BUTA SINGH (Jalore) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Hon. Minister has already used the word 'suicide'. Has the Government come to conclusion that it was definitely a suicide ? Still he inquiry is going on.
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MR. SPEAKER : Alleged suicide.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : Thank you for this correction.
SHRI RAM NAIK (Bombay-North) : The former Home Minister is
correcting the present Home Minister.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : That is why,. I am thinking him.
Sir firstly I would like to remove any kind of misunderstanding that there has been some kind of non-cooperation between the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Some of the Hon. Members had been persistently enquiring whether in the room in which Shanmugam was taking his meals, the police officers who were there, belonged to the Tamil Nadu or the CBI. In fact, I am going to reply to that aspect also. But at the outset I would like to remove this midunderstanding that there has been some kind of improper coordination between Tamil Nadu Police and the Special Investigation Team. They have provided all the help and assistance that is required for conducting the inquiry by the Special Investigation Team.
The composition of SIT was one of the issues which was raised by some of the Hon. Members. I would like to inform the House that Mr.
Kartikeyan, IGP CRPF is the head of the team assisted by four DIGs, six SPs, 14 Dy SPs, 33 Inspectors and other supporting staff. Of this, except one DIGs, six SPs, 14 Dy. SPs, 6 Inspectors and 4 Sub- Inspectors, the rest are drawn from CBI. This is the composition of the Team and they are inquiring into the matter.
Another question raised was about the cooperation between Sri Lankan Government of India. A Team led by the Director of CBI had gone to Sri Lanka after the assassination of late lamented Shri Rajiv Gandhi. It has been inquiring about certain matters from Shri Lankan Govenment. I must say that the 2965 LSS/92--18
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Sri Lankan Government was giving full help and assistance in the matter. It is a different matter thaty they do not have their presence in the areas of Jaffna. That is our difficulty. But whatever other information is required from Sri Lankan Government they are fully cooperating with the Government of India.
One of the Hon. Members asked a pertinent question as to why the CBI team is giving publicity. I am full agreement with him that this is a very wrong thing to do by the CBI. The SIT should not give publicity about whomsover they arrest and the kind of material which, in fact, comes into their hands as a matter of seizure. But everyday some report or the other definitely appears. This morning only I have again given instructions to the Special Investigation Team that thcy should avoid giving publicity to very sensitive matters. This is a very sensitive matter and I do not think they should indulge into this kind of a thing
About the Shanmugam incident, I must say that I had a long discussion with the Spccial Investigation Team. I tried to find out from them whether the Special Investigation Team is in a position to give such information which, in fact, is very relevant for a number of things which the Hon. Member stated on the floor of the house.
One of the things was in the room where Shanmugam was taking his meals, how many people belonging to the police were present there.
There were not just two constables but there were others also who were present and they had arms with them. When these two constables gave an alaram saying that Shanmugam was trying to run away, the releavant factor which arises will be whether the armed police opened fire not with aview to kill the person but with a view to injure him in such a manner that he is not able to run away. Somehow, I must admit before this House I was not fully satisfied by the reply which was given to me by the Special Investigation Team and that is why Additional Director was specially sent there to go deep into the matter and try to find, get explanation on all issues about which Hon. Members on all issues about which Hon. Members have
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raised doubts, fix the responsibility and thereafter take action against them. I don not think that I can possibly say anything more on some of the issues which were raised about this point. A point was also raised whether the family member were enquired of about Shanmugam. After running away where did he go ? The family membere were called to the police station at Vedaranyam. There the family members gave the information that they were not aware as to where he had gone ? He had a tendency fo committing suicide, that was the information that his wife gave. Thereafter it is a different matter that she sent another telegram saying that CBI has killed her husband.
But the fact still remains and we have made enquiries not only with his wife but also with other members of the family... (Interruptions).
There was another point which was raised by one Hon. Member and that was with respect to Dog Squad. It was stated that the dog went to his father-in-law's house which, in fact, is not correct. He went to his brother-in-law's and there he stopped, later on ccame back and he stayed at the place where he hanged himself. The brother-in-law was not there in the house . Where from did he get his lungi ?....(Interruptions). He was having a white lungi and a white banian.
But somehow his white lungi got entangled into thron-bush and that is why the white lungi was not there . Banian was thrown away because he thought that the white banian will be able to identify the person.
That is why it was found in the dry canal...(Interruption).
SHRI SAIFUDDIN CHOUDHARY (KATWA) : What about the post-mortum report ?
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : I will just come to that. A question was asked whether I have a confidence in the Special Investigation Team.
I can say without any fear of contradiction that these are very eminent people whome we have chosen and I have full confidence in their efficiency and with the confidence of these people, I am sure, they will be able to do their job properly.
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SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (Bolpur) : In your fairness: you
expressed your dissatisfaction about the way they are handling although they are supposed to be very efficient.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : This is an isolated instance shere I have candidly accepted that this thing has gone wrong and responsibility needs to be fixed. But, so far efficiency and confidence is concerned, I have full faith that they will be able to discharge their duties because within a period of two months after the assasination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, they have been able to examine about 232 witnesses, searches were carried out under Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code at 42 places which resulted in the seizure of large number of incriminating documents. As of now only two main accused persons Sivarasan and on lady Subha remain to be arrested. The Special Investigation on Team is after them and we are sure that they will definitely succeed in arresting them also, provided we get cooperation from all those who are concerned.
I must say at this stage that we have to create conditions in which the Special Investigation. Team needs to be given some kind of fillip in their morale. Instead of doing that, if we try to demoralise them and say that this SIT is of no use, I am sure that this will have a very bad effect on the total investigation. If they commit a mistake, I will admit that they have committed a mistake, but, at the same time,...
SHRI E AHAMED (Manjeri) : Sir, I fully agree with what the Hon.
Minister has said with regard to the confidence that he has in SIT.
But after this Shanmugam incident, there is needle of suspicion against some of the officers or the personnel in the Investigation Team. Will the Hon. Minister consider to keep them out from the totality of the enquiry ?
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : Sir, I do not think we should take serious note of it. The Additional Director will be able to find out as to who is the persons involved. If anyone is found guilty in that, I can 273 Matters Under Rule 377
assure the House that we will not aspare him, whomsoever he might be.
Even if he is a higher person, certainly he will not be spared because this is a very important matter wher we cannot possibly take any chance.
About th post mortem report, I am not a technician and I cannot possibly say what the doctors have said, but here is full report which was given by three officers-one by Dr. Amrit Patnaik, Director- Professor, Institute of Forensic Medicines, Madras Medical College, Madras, second is an extract from a final opinion recorded in the post mortem report by Dr.S. Rajendran, Dr. Subbaiah and Dr.D. Rajendran, Dr. Subbaiah and Dr.D. Rajendran of Government Hospital, Nagapattinam; and the third one is by Dr.T.D. Dogra, Additional Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicines and Dr.D.N. Bhardwaj, Senior Resident Doctor in the Department of Forensic Medicines, All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. I will read the report for the information of the House so that if the Hon. Members have any doubts... (Interruptions)
SHRI JASWANT SINGH (Chittorgarh): The conclusions will suffice, why read the whole report ?
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : They have come to the conclusions that it is a suicide. Everyone of them says that it is definitely suicide and he was not killed it is definitely suicide and he was not killed, and that no other conclusion from the post mortem report can be drawn.
Some doubt was expressed whether the doctors who carried out or conducted this post mortem were qualified. Even the experts of the All India Medical Sciences Institute are saying that they were competent. They had taken full precaution. The entire thing ws sent to Madras and got examined and everyone feels quite sure that excepting suicide, there is no other conclusion which can be drawn.
SHRI MADAN LAL KHURANA (South Delhi) : Suicide or Murder. How 274 Matters Under Rule 377
the doctors can decide whether it was a suicide or a murder ? They can only decided that it is a case of hanging. They cannot decide whether it is a murder or it is a suicide.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN ; They can decide it because bones are examined in these cases. Besides, effect on throat is also examined. After examining these things, they can find out each and everything. This is a technical method on the basis of which the doctors can draw a definite conclusion as what actually happened ?
This was a very important issue on which all the Hon. Members were much perturbed. The point whether Shri Shanmugam was killed or whether he had committed suicide, was preferred by several Hon.
Members in their speeches. That is why I have not only got the forensic laboratory's report and other doecotos' report from Madras but also got them again rechecked from All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences. That is why I do not, at least find any justification to suspect as to why this report should be relied upon.
SHRI TARIT BARAN TOPDAR (Barrackpore) : The forensic report cannot determine whether he was hanged to death or he had committed suicide (Interruption)
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : I am not a doctor myself. The whole thing is there in the reports. (Interruptions).
MR SPEAKER : Please do not carry on discussion on this point because this is discussion on this point because this is an expert's opinion. It has to be established in a court of law. This is an expert's opinion. (Interruptions)
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : You are very much right. It has to be
establihsed in a court of law. (Interruptions)
SHRI BUTA SINGH : My request to the Hon. Minister is let him not give details as Home Minister that it is a suicide.
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SHRI MADAN LAL KHURANA : I agree with Buta Singhji that the Home Minister of the country should not make a statement here about a point of fact which is to be established in a court of law (Interruptions) (English)
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : I got it doubly checked from All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (Interruptions)
This is an expert's opinion. I am not an expert.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : I am not questioning what you have read out. It is an expert's opinion. I would like to know what is going to the court. (Interruptions)
MR SPEAKER : Whatever we say on the floor of the House, or
whatever the doctor says--it has to be finally decided by the court (Interruptions)
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE : This is not going to the court
MR SPEAKER : It has to be decided by the court as to whether the opinion given by the doctor can be accepted or not. This is an expert's opinion. This has to be decided by the court. Let us not carry on discussion on that (Interruptions)
MR SPEAKER : Please take your seat when I am standing. Please, let us not carry on discussion on this point because we are not competent to decide whether it is one way or the other. Now it has to be decided by the court when the case comes to the court. It is an expert's opinion
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : With your permission, Sir I will just read the last portion of the expert's opinion. (Interruptions)
SHRI FRANK ANTHONY (Nominated Anglo-Indian) : May I ask a few important question ? Who wre the people who first
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discovered his body ? Was it CBI people or was it the local police who did it ? Why were the local police personnel arrested ? How was it that the most elementary precautaions and safeguards were not taken ? I am told it is terrain area and safe. Why wre the normal elementary safeguards like frisking and metal directors not there ?
Had they been there, this woman could have gone there. Nobody could have got anywhere near Rajiv.
SHRI SOMNATH CHATTERJEE ; He is taking about Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
SHRI TARIT BARAN TOPDAR : My point is not answered. The
forensic report has got nothing to do whether he was hanged to death or he committed suicide.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : Sir, one more and I have done. That is about the terms of reference of the Justice Verma's Commission of Inquiry.
This Commission of Inquiry was appointed to enquire and go into the details. We had three terms of reference about which Mr. Justice Verma has given his opinion that on two terms of reference he has no objection and he wil conduct the enquiry an find out the details.
But he says the 'the conspiracy part of it is a mttter on which I will not be able to throw any light' and that is why it was difficult for him to accept the third term of reference.
Now, at the highest level there has been correspondence going on, also on a personal discussion with the Chief Jusatice of the Supreme Court of India, and we are trying to sort out the issue, but we are still not satisfied. If it comes to that, it will mean the appointment of another Judge to inquire into the conspiracy part of the entire thing
A point was raised....(Interruption). Just a minute. Let me finish my reply. Everybody is trying to spring up an ask me some thing during the course of my reply. It is not a correct procedure.
After I have finished, if you have any doubt, certainly you ask me, I will try to clarify.
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Sir, one Hon. Member made a statement that I have made a very irresponsible statement in the Rajya Sabha. Normally what I said in the Rajya Sabha I need not quote here. But I will request the Hon.
Members one thing. We have in fact very serious doubts in our minds though at his stage I cannot possibly say that I have some evidence or some clude which establish; if that was so, the Commission immediately would have been jus at it.
In Indira Gandhi case, the immediate people who killed Indira Gandhi, they could be found out. In the case of Shri Rajiv Gandhi's assassination also, those who have been responsible for killing him, definitely they will be found out. At lealst I have no doubt about it, but at the same time our responsibility is to find out as to who are the people behind the entire thing. It we fail in doing that, then again I consider mthat we will be falling in our duty; it will be our endeavour, how far we are going to suceed is a matter on which I cannot possibly assure this House. After 15-20 years, ther have been cases where people themselves admitted that we are involved in the assassination of a particular person. I won't be surprised if some kind of thing were to come to light after some time in these cases also, but we will try our level best to see whether we can unearth any kind of conspiracy, the hand behind the whole thing. Whether they were agents or whether they were themselves responsible for doing this is a matter which will have to be thoroughly gone into and that is why it is the third term of reference. If Justice Verma is not agreeable to accept it, we would rather go in for appointment of a retired Chief Justice or a Judge of a High Court and see that he goes deep into the matter and gives a report to the Government as to who are the persons whom he considers as responsible in these cases. I have done now.
SHRI RAM NAIK : I have only to say that the description of Mr Shanmugham as a well-known smuggler should be changed because it is a bad habit to keep it like that.
SHRI S.B. CHAVAN : I am in agreement with you.
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SHRI LAL K ADVANI (Gandhi Nagar) : Shri the Home Minister while he was replying started reading out the post mortem report and some Members said that it is an expert body, he need not. But I would suggest that it would be in the interest of every one if the copy of the post-mortem report is placed on the Table of the House so that is becomes a public document and it can be seen by everybody.t i MR SPEAKER : It is a public document, it goes to the court, it is given to the accused. There is no difficulty about it.