Rajiv Gandhi Assassination and Special Investigation Team- Part V

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| by L.Annadoure

( December 9, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian)  It was alleged by Special Investigation Team that it was the Inspector General of police, Tamil Nadu, Mr.Ragavan who had taken possession of Chinon Camera CX from the  site  immediately after the bomb blast on the night of 21st May 1991 and it was further alleged that one Haribabu had used that Chinon CX camera in taking the iconical 10 shots. we have already heard the Chief investigation officer saying that the colour roll of film was taken out from the camera , taken to a studio near by, the exposed film was cut away, packed and sent to Chennai for developing  the negative  and what is to be taken note of is the roll of film was not sent directly to Forensic Department, Tamil Nadu.

Page No.142, The First Human Bomb by P.Chandra Sekharan
 The camera which you see above is Chinon CX with which 10 shots were said to have been taken at the site and this model was manufactured by Chinon Industries, Japan and the industry had manufactured such model  in or about 1974 and thereafter the company had  stopped  production of the above said model. The Forensic Expert Mr.P.Chandra Sekharan would say that the impugned camera Chinon Cx was fitted with a Super Takumar wide –angle lens ( No.3123927) made by the Asahi Optical Company, Japan with aperture-focal length ‘1.3/28’.

The Chinon camera used to be sold fitted with the company’s  own Chinon lens  and especially this model camera came  fitted with 55mm/1.4 lens and any other suitable lens could also be screw mounted. As you see this Camera has not in built electronic flash but there is hot shoe on the top of the camera  so as to mount separate electronic  flash. It is highly doubtful whether this camera could have been used in taking the 10 shots when more sophisticated models were available in the market and in use with photographers in the city during the material point of time and the case of the prosecution was that the alleged Photographer Haribabu had borrowed the said camera from his friend to take shots of the events and their case was the said  Haribabu was working under his master Subha Sundaram  who was said to be a well known photographer.

Now we have to see what the Chief of the Special Investigation Team Mr. D.R.Kartikeyan, the Chief Investigating officer Mr.K.Ragothaman  and the Forensic Expert P.Chandrasekaran have got to say about the Chinon Cx Camera which we see above.

The version of Mr.Karthieyan-The Rajiv Gandhi Assasination , The investigation authored by D.R.Karthikeyan and Radhavinod Raju

‘Haribabu focused the Chinon camera, that he had borrowed  to cover this special event, and clicked his first picture of the evening.’ 2nd paragraph page 15

Mr.M.Katthikeyan in the introductory pages would make a reference as to Mr.Ragul Gandhi who having said that he ‘wanted to know the power of the lens of Haribabu’s camera’

‘Haribabu’s camera, capturing the last moments of Rajiv Gandhi and others at the meeting, remained a mute witness atop its temporary owner’s body once- alive body’( page 17, 3rd paragraph)

‘Ragavan directed the police man nearby to pick up the Chinon camera. Page 17-18

‘Among the materials taken over by us from the State Crime Branch was the Chinon Camera that had been picked up from the scene of crime under IG Raghavan’s directions. The camera had been taken by the police photographer  to a studio nearby  to ascertain whether it contained clues. The film being a coloured one, it could not be developed at the local studio and the exposed portion of the film was cut and packed and passed on the police photographer. It was not until the afternoon of May 23 that this portion of film, containing vital evidence , was taken to TNFSL and developed late in the evening. The first prints made from the exposed film were in black and white and were kept sealed at the lab; there were a total of ten pictures. Yet the next morning, a major part of the first of these ten photographs found its way to The Hindu’s front page, thanks to a top official at TNFSL’...page 25

‘The photograph published by The Hindu before we or the crime Branch had access to the photographs, and even before the CBI registered the case, did create some consternation among the investigators’ .page 25

‘We proceeded to take possession of the camera and ten developed negatives that formed the most important evidence.’ Page 26

‘These ten photographers , and six others taken by a photographer who had accompanied Shankar Ganesh’s music troupe were the only ones to be taken before the assassination;....’ page 26

‘After The Hindu published the first photograph of Haribabu, a journalist got in touch with us and expressed his doubts about a kurta pyjama clad man as a business partner of another mutually known free lance photo journalist. The next day the journalist called the photojournalist, who was supposed to be the kurta pyjama clad man’s business partner, and inquired about the latter. The photojournalist acknowledged that Haribabu had borrowed his Chinon camera but as to the kurta pyjama clad man, he knew nothing. This bothered the journalist, especially after the LTTE was speculated to be among the prime suspects in the assassination. He knew Haribabu was a ward of the Chennai based Subha Sundaram, who was known to have close links with the LTTE.’

 ‘Subha Sundaram , a well –known photojournalist, was a strong supporter of the LTTE. It was in his studio that LTTE master propagandist Baby Subramaniam attracted a young flock of Indian men. Subha Sundaram had paid a brief visit to Jaffna in the first half of 1990 and met the Tiger leader and was politically well connected. Later during investigation, the SIT unearthed the level of involvement Sundaram had with LTTE activities in general and the Rajiv Gandhi assassination in particulars’ page 27

Obviously , the report was referring to the photographs published on May 24 in The Hindu in which the salwar kameez clad girl holding the sandal garland is seen flanked by a mother and daughter. This was a scoop by The Hindu.

 ‘On May 20, Bhagyanathan , Arivu, Murugan, Nalini and Haribabu met Sivarasan in Bhagyanathan’s house. Kodak film roll was given to Haribabu for taking photographs and Sivarasan gave them further instructions on their plan for the next day when Rajiv Gandhi was to address the meeting at Sriperumbadur’

  The version propounded by Forensic Expert  -The First Human Bomb by P.Chandrasekaran

‘I scrutinized the photographs and one of the photographs showed the same object that I had noticed in the news paper. I wondered why we did not locate this object in the scene. To check whether it was lying at the blast site when our team reached there. I made a slow run of the video we had made before we actually began our combing search. I could not locate this object in the video obviously this important object was picked up by some one in the interval, perhaps when the corpses were cleared.’ Page 49

‘When I was examining the bodies at the morgue , one of them was identified as that of  Haribabu, a free lance photographer. Many had reported to have seen this Haribabu taking photographs of the final moments of Rajiv Gandhi at close quarters. The object that I had noticed and that we failed to locate was a camera! The camera , as I had noticed from the news paper, was trapped safely between two dead bodies, one of them identified as that of the photographer Haribabu  himself and the other being that of a girl later identified as Kokila . I guessed that this camera must be none other than the one with which Haribabu was seen by many, clicking photographs until he was killed in the blast.

 ‘ I could n’t get any information about the camera  from the morgue either. Discouraged but determined to somehow get hold of  Haribabu’s camera. I came back to the blast site where my colleagues were waiting with the materials collected on the second day.’

‘When I reached the lab, a great surprise awaited me. Watson placed before me a set of ten photographs. He told me that the police photographer attached to the Kancheepuram District police officer had come to our lab an hour ago and brought  with him a 35 mm exposed colour roll film.... The police photographer wanted the film to be developed and prints made immediately in our colour lab. He told Watson that the police officers of the State Crime Branch wanted to see the results immediately. Watson had entrusted the job to our forensic photographer’.

‘Removal of the camera from the scene was gross violation of basic crime scene ethics- and my last guess would have been that a law enforcement officer would have been responsible!

‘My forensic photographer  developed the roll film and found that ten frames were exposed. He made two sets of enlargements of all the ten exposures. He returned the colour negative roll along with one set of enlargements to the police photographer. Prudently my forensic photographer retained the other set and gave it to Watson to be shown to me.’

‘Watson said that Praksh Swamy from The Hindu was right there in our lounge room waiting to meet me. His patience in waiting for me up till that late hour rewarded him with this crucial news break. He was ecstatic as he collected the print and rushed to his office. The Hindu faithfully carried the photograph along with the break-through news in its issue who killed Rajiv Gandhi’ .-page 53

‘But where was the camera? The mystery was solved the next day when my forensic photographer met me along with his police counterpart. Vardarajan, the police photographer was the first to find the camera lying between the dead bodies and to take a photographic of the scene as the press photographers also followed suit. When the bodies were removed to the morgue, the camera was picked up from the scene by Ragavan, the inspector General of Police. He had then entrusted the camera to the police photographer to be taken to a nearby studio to get the film removed, developed and prints made. The local studio , having no facilities to develop colour films, was a no –go, as the film was a colour roll. The photographer could n’t get the film developed anywhere else in the city since all the major photo shops had downed shutters due to the widespread riots over the next two days. That’s why the police photographer brought the film to my department where we had a well equipped colour laboratory’.

‘I released to the press the photograph of Dhanu with a garland in her hand and it was first published in the Hindu on May 24, 1991.The Hindu ‘ also published Sivarasan’s photograph on May 29 and the other newspapers carried them on May 30’. page 170

‘One of the useful findings of the SIT during their investigation was that the LTTE typically records all its operations, and in this case had hired a Chennai –based photographer and sympathizer S.Haribabu, to document Rajiv Gandhi’s killings. But, unfortunately for LTTE and fortunately for SIT, they had not anticipated one disastrous error. Haribabu, while photographing the sequences strayed too close to the assassin Dhanu and died in the explosion. Haribabu was probably not aware of the impending explosion. The ten photographs he had clicked in is Chinon camera had survived.

..... The camera with the loaded film ought to have been handed over to me at the crime scene itself. But the film was removed from the camera and brought to me on 23rd May ,1991, while the camera was delivered to me only on 30th May 1991.’

The version of K.Ragothaman -Story of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination by M.Ragothaman

‘Of the press reporters and photographers who had gone to Poonthamalli, one of the Photographers was one Thelkadi Ramamurthy who knew news of the death of  Haribabu. He knew well Haribabu and his master Subha Sundaram. Subha Sundaram had contacted Thelkadi Ramamurthy through telephone at the police station’. page 39

‘On informing  the death of  Haribabu ,  the first reaction from Subha Sundaram was  he who said that let Haribabu be gone, first the camera should be recovered.’  page 39

‘It was first a shock to Thelkadi Ramamurthy. Subha Sundaram having continued to speak asked Thelkadi Ramamurthy thus, ‘See,  if you could collect the camera? It is an invaluable property.  It will yield millions in profit. What do you say?’ -page 39

‘When CBI was inquiring the press reporters and photographers who were at the site, the Chief of Special Investigation team was examining Thelkadi Ramaurthy. The information  that was revealed by Thelkadi Ramaurthy was about Subha Sundaram which was terrifying and shocking one. Thelkadi Ramaurthy said that he had refused to budge in to Subha Sundaram’s demand and he had abruptly stopped communicating with him over phone. After examining Thelkadi Ramamurthy Chief of Special Investigation Team Mr.D.R. Karthikeyan had directed Mr.K.Ragothaman to subject Subha Sundaram to a full enquiry’. page 39

‘Inside the camera which came into our hands contained only unexposed film roll only. Its exposed frames were cut separately and sent for taking prints.’

 Mere reading of the versions of the statements of the officers of Special investigation Team and  the Forensic expert, Tamil Nadu Forensic Unit would give one to understand that  it was Inspector General of Police Mr.G.Ragavan who had directed a police Constable to take possession of the impugned camera immediately after the bomb blast and thus  the camera was said to be in the hands of state police who had  begun  their investigation  soon after the blast which killed Rajiv Gandhi and some others and CBI took up the investigation only on May 24 at about 1.30 pm from State police and relevant papers and case properties that were recovered at the site were handed over to CBI.

Page No.142, The First Human Bomb
by P.Chandra Sekharan
So for the camera was concerned, according to the Chief investigation officer K.Ragothaman , the team had laid their hand on the camera and the unexposed roll of colour film which was inside the camera only on 24.5.1991 at about 1.30 Pm.  Quite obviously The Hindu News paper had published the first frame starting with 0  in its issue dt. 24.5.1991  and therefore some negative colour films which were collected from the other photographers and negatives prepared from video cassettes sans the first frame starting with 0, should have reached  the hands of Hindu News paper and that  should have been what had happened in all probability. No body was certain as to where the impugned camera and the colour roll of film were all along and the Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan would state that black and white photos were taken from the colour negative film which were then kept in sealed cover. In all, it should be said that there was suspicion and doubts hovering over the camera which was said to have been lying over the corpse of Haribabu. It was their stand that only the exposed frames were cut at a local studio but there could not be any means of knowing as to how many frames were exposed in the roll and the Forensic Expert would say that roll film was given for developing on the evening of 23rd May and these statements appear to be untrustworthy.

 Pertaining to the Chinon Camera CX, the Forensic Expert would say that the Camera was retrieved unscathed as it was found trapped between the corpses and the picture above shows that a camera is just lying on the corpse. Supposing  were the photographer Haribabu to have clued his eye to the view finder and focused  at the scene at time of actual explosion then certainly the Chinon CX Camera should have borne the brunt of the explosion and as the Forensic Expert himself  had stated that as the onward rush of gases was at a speed of 7000 miles per hour, the effect of the blast with gases and pellets would have smashed it to pieces and  further there would not have been any chance of survival of the colour roll of film inside the camera and here despite  all the roll of film was said to have emerge undamaged and  in all probability  the version ventured by Forensic Expert should be farfetched; such statement was a pigment of his imagination; there was mala fide intention on his part and the Forensic Expert could not be heard to say that the camera was caught in between the bodies nor such a proposition could be stomached by any one with a little knowledge  of photography and use of cameras. Further the picture shows the camera was one with out an in built electronic flash and neither of the investigating officers nor the Forensic Expert ever did say anything about the conspicuous absence of an in built electronic flash nor of the absence of separate mountable electronic flash. The investigation Team and investigation officers are bound to answer to this discrepancy or anomaly and they must explain how the alleged Photographer Haribabu had taken photos with the camera as such and therefore their investigation  should be  a tainted one. What the author of this article come to perceive is that the impugned Camera was not at all used in taking photos and the allegation of use of the said camera in taking those 10 photos sequentially was unfounded and baseless and saying so should only be a misnomer.

 Page No.119, The First Human Bomb
 by P.Chandra Sekharan
The Special investigation team was trying to fabricate evidence so as to present false evidence before court so as to procure conviction for a capital offence which were foisted against the accused persons in the case and the TADA Act had extended all protection and cover  to  their activities  and it accorded all freedom to fabricate evidence and thus they were emboldened to go to any extent and their activities were destined to be unquestionable by any one and they had hoodwinked the Honourable court into believing  that the photographic evidence which they had presented before the court was credible and trust worthy. The Chief of Special investigation Team Mr.D.R.Karthikeyan had stated  that it was Sivarasan who had given Kodak colour Film to cover the programme and it was highly farcical on is his part to have said so and such statement was absurd, for a professional Photographer knew pretty well what kind of film he should use in taking photos for the occasion and the 10 shots  spoken of  in unison and oft repeated and reiterated as ones taken by Haribabu were not taken originally with Kodak film in Chinon CX Camera. 

The theory that Haribabu having taken 10 snapshots sequentially which was propounded by the Special Investigation Team and the Forensic Expert was a conspiracy  hatched by an hierarchy of conspirators and the Forensic Expert was a greater conspirator in the venture and even to this day there is no knowing of what happened to the video Cassette which was taken to New Delhi  and the video cassettes  seen by the team were only edited versions. The Special Investigation Team knew absolutely well that the Video cassette which was with the Chief of Intelligence Bureau contained vital information and in order to shied some one else its availability was suppressed from being utilized for effective  investigation and the Chief of Investigation Team , the Chief of investigating officer and the Chief of erstwhile Intelligence Bureau were equally guilty of suppression of evidence which were to have been produced in the course of investigation then such an evidence would have tilted the trend of the prosecution case and  in actuality they should all be prosecuted for suppression of evidence and for producing false evidence before court of law and we will continue with our exposition of the Kodak Colour Film which was said to have been given to Haribabu and the filmstrip which was alleged to have contained 10 shots wherein lies the falsity of entire prosecution case.

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