Rajiv assassination probe was high point of his career
Radha Vinod Raju, founding Director-General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and key member of the special investigation team which probed Rajiv Gandhi assassination, died in Kochi on Thursday. He was 62.
Former colleagues mourned Mr. Raju. “He was an exceptional police officer but more important, he was an exceptional human being,” said Gurbachan Jagat, former Director-General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and now Manipur Governor. Born in Kochi on July 27, 1949, Mr. Raju worked as officer in the Bank of India before being selected to the Indian Police Service in 1975. He was assigned to the J&K cadre, and he began an illustrious career that won him the Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 1992, the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1999, a Director-General’s Commendation Certificate in January 2000 and the Sher-e-Kashmir Medal for Meritorious Services in 2003.
“For all of those who served under him,” said the acting J&K Director-General of Police K. Rajendra, “Mr. Raju was a role model and an exemplar. He was impeccably honest, unfailing courteous, and a brilliant police professional.”
The soft-spoken officer first attracted national attention in mid-1980s, after cracking the Polakkulam murder case in Kerala during the first of his stints with the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He also acquired a formidable reputation in J&K, where he served as Senior Superintendent of Police in Jammu, Deputy-Inspector General of Anantnag, Inspector-General of the Jammu zone and Vigilance Commissioner.
“Mr. Raju,” recalled the former J&K Director-General of Police Gopal Sharma, “had an unusual talent for dogged investigation in the most adverse circumstances. In 1990, after the first terrorist attacks in Jammu, he succeeded in tracking down the main suspect on the basis of the thinnest evidence, and building a case that could stand up in court. It was an exceptional piece of detective work.”
The high point of Mr. Raju’s career was his central role in investigating the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Later, he co-authored a book, Triumph of Justice, with SIT chief and former CBI director D.R. Kaarthikeyan. It described how investigators, starting with almost no leads, established that a hit-team from the now-decimated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam had carried out the killing.
Following another successful tenure in J&K, Mr. Raju became the first Director-General of the NIA, founded to handle transnational terrorism-related investigations in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.
Following his retirement, he was appointed to serve in a task force on security reforms by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Last month, the Central Vigilance Commission co-opted him onto its advisory panel to offer the CBI assistance in cases of fraud.
Mr. Raju had, however, been ailing for some time with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. On June 6, he was admitted to a Kochi hospital with a lung infection, but he did not respond to treatment.
He is survived by his wife Achamma and daughters Renu and Sindhu.