The operation had four Acts: assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, formation of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the role of SIT and the involvement of the Karnataka police. I would rather talk only about the last Act. For me, it was the most interesting part as I witnessed the action from up close. I was the deputy commissioner of Bangalore East division. In August, SIT called up our police commissioner Ramalingum and told him that they had a tip-off that some LTTE cadres were hiding in Bangalore. A team of commandos headed by DIG Raju landed in the city.
I was told to assist this team. By the time we reached the hideouts, two of the inmates, Kolutananda and Arasa, consumed cyanide. During intensive interrogation we came to know that Sivarasan and a few other LTTE activists had lived in another house very close to the one that we raided, but had escaped.
Once we were sure that Sivarasan was indeed in Bangalore, the hunt began. A few days later, the Mandya district police provided information that some LTTE people had been taken to Muttatti. So we went to raid the house. By the time we got there, they had all consumed cyanide.
DIG K.U. Balakrishna Rao, who investigated the place, found a small chit in the pocket of one of the dead cadres. It simply had ‘Puttenahalli Anjenappa’ written on it. Had the DIG ignored the chit, Sivarasan and his team would have fled Karnataka.
After an inquiry, I learnt that Anjenappa was a landlord and brother of a Congress worker. I wondered, “How could a Congress man have links with LTTE?” Yet, we didn’t want to miss the chance and took Anjenappa into custody. In the course of the interrogation, we learnt that one Ranganath was a tenant in Anjenappa’s house. Anjenappa told us that Ranganath had once taken his address to pass it on to friend in Muttatti.
When we reached Puttenahalli, the LTTE group had vacated the house. A matador driver had helped Ranganath and his wife Mrudula shift out of this house. The driver took us to a church from where we took Mrudula into custody. She revealed everything, including the terrifying truth that Sivarasan, Shubha and others were in the house for eight days before relocating to a new abode in Konanakunte just a day before.
Based on the information she provided regarding the arms they possessed – an AK-47 and a 9MM pistol – we knew for sure that the gang that stayed with them was Sivarasan and the group. We were soon at the door of the house where the most wanted were residing! There were only four of us – me, Assistant Commissioner Ashwathramayya, Inspector Narashimamurthy and a lady constable Manjula. We arranged for KSRP commandos, and soon several other efficient police officers arrived at the spot to provide support. We put our plan in place and readied ourselves to launch an attack.
In the meantime, I committed a small mistake. I called up my commissioner to inform him about our plan. I regret that act of mine to this day. The police commissioner immediately contacted the SIT chief Mr Karthikeyan. He was within his rights to do so. The SIT chief instructed us not to proceed until the antidote squad arrived from Lucknow. This squad would be needed in case the LTTE cadres consumed cyanide.
The SIT chief joined us the next evening. That night, the LTTE cadres holed up in the house started firing in a bid to escape. We retaliated. This firing continued for quite a while. The antidote squad reached at 3 am the next morning.
Thereafter, we were finally given permission to enter the hideout and launch our action. But it was far too late by then. When we broke down the door and entered the house, we only found dead bodies. The LTTE members had all consumed cyanide and committed suicide. Sivarasan had shot himself in the head with a 9mm pistol. I truly regret that I missed the chance of arresting them alive. Yet it was an operation I will not forget until my last breath.