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‘A Road Well Travelled’ review: Bofors to match-fixing, a police officer recounts life in service

Among the galaxy of top cops who carved a niche for themselves in the annals of the history of Indian police figures R.K. Raghavan, a former Indian Police Service officer. Not many police officers venture into writing an autobiography, unless they have been in the thick of action — cases that evoked national interest.

His autobiography, A Road Well Travelled, makes for interesting reading not just for police officers but also the common man curious to know the truth and the intricacies that influence polity.

A Tamil Nadu cadre officer of the 1963 batch, Raghavan has the unique distinction of having investigated the infamous Bofors case that led to Rajiv Gandhi’s defeat in the 1989 elections, the match-fixing case in 2000 that saw the ouster of Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin, and Ajay Jadeja, the fodder scam of Bihar’s Chief Minister Laloo Prasad among several others that drew the public ire. He was associated as Chairman with the Special Investigation Team probing the riots that rocked Gujarat in February 2002. The R.K. Raghavan Committee named after him came out with a set of regulations to curb ragging in educational institutions.

With such credentials under his sleeves, it was proper for him to come out with a book unravelling the truth and the pressures that he may have been subjected to while heading the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and later the SIT.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination

In his own words, he was “witness to some historic events, such as the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi” and he chose to come out with his first-hand information when goaded by friends and family.

Starting as an IPS probationer, he rose to the highest enviable rank of Director, CBI after having been through the vicissitudes of life.

Though the Sriperumbudur incident took place much later in his career as an IGP, he begins with the narration of events that led to the assassination. He was the first to lift and shift the badly mutilated body of Rajiv Gandhi after it had been identified by his shoes by Jayanthi Natarajan. Once Rajiv Gandhi’s body was handed over, Raghavan remained at the rostrum “to oversee the relief operations, as also to protect the scene from unruly elements.” His action paid rich dividends. It helped the Crime Branch of CID recover the camera that provided the crucial evidence leading to the arrest of the culprits. Though some of his own colleagues accused him of culpability for the incident, the Governor, Bhishma Narain Singh, appreciated his role and he came out unscathed.

Passion for cricket

In subsequent chapters he takes the readers through his days in Coimbatore, Mussoorie, Mount Abu (for training), Nagapattinam, his stint at the Intelligence Bureau in New Delhi, ‘an interlude in America’ at Temple University (Philadelphia) for a graduate programme in criminal justice, Tamil Nadu Vigilance and his CBI days in chronological order followed by his post-retirement life.

Raghavan attributes the unravelling of the Bofors case to The Hindu whose Geneva correspondent Chitra Subramaniam with unstinted support of Frontline Editor N. Ram got hold of “350 documents that outlined the contours of the story as it unfolded.” He categorically states that “there was not the slightest evidence of any payment made directly to Rajiv Gandhi.”

Over 30 pages devoted to the report on match-fixing and statements of top cricketers may interest cricket aficionados. A qualified umpire of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association league matches, his passion for the game helped him investigate the match-fixing scam.

A Road Well Travelled; R.K. Raghavan, Westland Books, ₹599.

The reviewer is Inspector General of Police (retd), CRPF.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 8:06:41 AM |

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