NEW DELHI: The Thakkar Commission’s report, released after intense pressure on March 27, alludes to the involvement of the USS. Central Intelligence Agency to the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The 314 page report, only three copies of which were released says that Mrs. Gandhi’s former personal assistant R.K. Dhavan was involved in delaying the T.V interview for which Mrs. Gandhi was going when she was assassinated.
Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated by Beant Singh and Satwant Singh her two security guards on October 31, 1984. They killed her for ordering the bloody assault on the Golden Temple in June 1984’ in which thousands of Sikhs were killed and the Akal’ Takhat building destroyed.
Beant Singh was killed soon after he and Satwant Singh gave themselves up to the police. Satwant Singh was injured at the same time, No action has been taken against police men who murdered Beant Singh.
The report was completed in 1986 but Gandhi government had decided to keep it a secret for at least 30 years. It’s leak in the Indian Express and the subsequent opposition pressure however forced the government to release it now. It appears to be based solely on circumstantial and unconfirmed evidence.
The report attacks, “the lack of commitment lack of supervision and lack of follow up action” amongst the security officials of Mrs. Gandhi.
Dhawan, 52 was the personal secretary of Mrs. Gandhi for 20 years. He was dismissed after her assassination, but Rajiv Gandhi inducted him back last month. He did not comment on the report.
Thakkar said Dhawan had contradicted himself several times during the proceedings. He was reprimanded by Mrs. Gandhi a month before her assassination the report said.
It accused Dhawan of facilitating the murder by countermanding an order to remove all Sikhs from the inner security circle, approving shift changes for one of the assassins and keeping secret instructions about Mrs. Gandhi’s security that indicated “he was snoOping or spying on the late Prime Minister and was active as an informant for someone.”
Dhawan lied or gave inadequate responses to question s about foreign money, the CIA and his association with a Sikh suspected of having ties with the U.S. Intelligence Agency which gives rise to suspicion that Dhawan was working for the CIA the report said.
Home Minister Buta Singh added confusion to the situation by saying that Dhawan had been cleared by the Anant Nag Enquiry but the police had uncovered a larger conspiracy in the assassination.
A synopsis of the report, distributed to the press, did not even refer to Dhawan except to say that the subsequent investigation exonerated him.
The contrast between the synopsis and the report and distribution of only 3 copies of the report ys hundreds of the synopsis was criticized widely.
Opposition leaders who have turned the Thakkar Commission Report into a key national’ issue since sections of it were leaked to India’s prominent opposition daily Tewspaper the Indian Express, sharply criticized the fact that the government only released three copies of the commissions full report and hundreds of copies of the brief synopsis.
“They took 10 days to give a few copies to the Parliament’s library and none to the press,” said opposition member Jai Pal Reddy, of the Janata Dal Party. “They could not resist the overwhelming public pressure to release it, but at the same time, they must do everything in their little power to see that it’s played down.”
Veteran opposition Parliament member Madhu Dandavate said the report “further eroded the credibility of the government,” and he added, “The tragedy of this government is it always does the right thing at the wrong moment.”
V.P. Singh Gandhi’s former finance minister who is now leading an umbrella opposition coalition that will challenge the prime minister and his Congress I party later this year, said the contents of the report are nowhere near as damaging as the government’s moves that led up to it.
The simple fact is, the government obviously lied,” Singh said. “They misled the House and they misled the people. That is on the record, and now, the first witness against this government is the Prime Minister himself.”
The debate over the Thakkar Commission report, critics say, is a classic illustration of the increasing perception that Gandhi is a weak and vacillating leader.
When the opposition onslaught began in parliament on March 14, Gandhi’s home minister, Buta Singh, stated categorically that the report would remain secret for reasons of national security.
”The report shall not be placed in this house,” he said. “This house cannot discuss or even raise a question on this. We will not change this position.”
Two days later, Vice President Shankar Dayal Sharma told Parliament’s upper house, “I am entirely convinced that this matter should not be admitted.”
Reversal by Gandhi
The very next day, though Gandhi himself stood in Parliament and stated that the incessant press speculation on the subject, “is fueling willful distortion, malicious innuendo and irresponsible character assassination. To put a stop to this, it is important that the full text of the report be made public.”
As Home Minister Singh released the three officials copies Monday, conceding that national security would in no way be affected the opposition shouted, “Victory for democracy! and “Victory for the opposition.!”