Controversial ex-CBI director new envoy to Cyprus

A file photo of India’s new envoy to Cyprus, RK Raghavan

RK Raghavan-headed SIT had given a clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Is his appointment as High Commissioner to Cyprus just a coincidence?

Is it just a coincidence that former CJI S Sathasivam, who gave a clean chit to Amit Shah, was made the Governor of Kerala and now the former CBI director, RK Raghavan, who headed the SIT that gave a clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for not allowing the police to prevent rioting in 2002, has been appointed India’s High Commissioner to Cyprus?

Raghavan retired as CBI director 16 years ago and is 76 years old. The controversial Tamil Nadu cadre officer was in charge of security at Sriperumbudur, where former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991.

There is a chapter about the IPS officer called When the Investigator Himself Is Indicted in Manoj Mitta’s book The Fiction of Fact-Finding: Modi & Godhra that deals with Gujarat 2002 investigations.

After assessing affidavits and depositions before the JS Verma Commission that probed security lapses at Sriperumbudur, Mitta recalled that Raghavan was among the three police officers to have been indicted by the Verma Commission for security lapses leading to the assassination. Mitta also says that Vajpayee government resurrected his career in 1999 by appointing him as CBI chief and also conferred upon him the President’s medal in quick succession.

Raghavan was director-general of Tamil Nadu's State Vigilance Directorate from 1993 to 1999. In this period, he oversaw corruption cases against AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa.

While discussing a book on the investigation of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Raghavan himself accepted, ‘it is a Herculean task to keep politics totally out of such probes. Actually, it will be unnatural for politicised elements not to exploit such momentous happenings.’

As head of the SIT set up to look into post-Godhra riots, Raghavan differed with the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae and held that a conversation or direction within four walls was not sufficient evidence to prosecute anyone. While the then Gujarat Chief Minister was accused of directing the police to look the other way while rioters had a free run, critics wondered if the SIT was suggesting that an elected Chief Minister could not be prosecuted on the basis of his oral instructions. Could ministers be prosecuted only if they personally and physically indulge in violence, critics then had asked.

A PhD in political science, Raghavan would know why he was made High Commissioner at this age and the responsibility of ambassadorial posts that are usually meant for Indian Foreign Service officers.

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