THE Jain Commission's interim report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination has created a furore in political circles and hogged the headlines in all major national dailies. The Capital has been agog with rumours—that the Congress would pull the rug from under the UF government; and that Sonia Gandhi would emerge as the factor to reckon with. Even the dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu was not ruled out.
But while most of the media claimed that it had been an India Today exclusive, the truth lies elsewhere. We at Tamizhan Express —a budding Tamil weekly with a circulation of more than a 100,000—first broke the story. The 'scoop' is ours. The explosive interim report is kept locked in an almi-rah in a sealed room, adjacent to the Union home minister's chambers at North Block, which is guarded round the clock. It requires dare-devilry to procure a copy of the interim report from the commission's office.
The cover story of the Tamizhan Express dated August 27 was "Jain commission indicts DMK". The article contained details of the report, highlights of which were that the commission was displeased with the DMK's casual attitude towards it; was critical of the role played by the DMK's counsel T.G. Venkataraman, now Union minister for surface transport;
and felt that Karunanidhi had tried to mislead the commission. The issue hit the stands on August 24, 1997, four days before Justice Jain submitted his report to the home minister.
But more was to follow. The Tamizhan Express dated October 22 carried extracts from the Jain Commission's report in its columns. This report was mainly on the revelations concerning the 'LTTE-DMK-V. Gopalasamy nexus' in the Rajiv assassination case and the role played by various political leaders. The crucial portions—Chapter 73 of the interim report—were reproduced in detail.
Expertise is a better tool than courage in such circumstances. The skill and efficiency of our network of contacts came into play while chasing this scoop. The result: we got the first look at this explosive report. Having seen it ourselves, we couldn't resist the temptation of going public with it.
Following our reports, other major regional papers front-paged the findings of the commission and carried extracts throughout the month of October. These newspapers include Vartha , Eenadu (both Telugu), Malayala Manorama amongst others.
We knew there was always the possibility of such reports getting buried. We are only fulfilling a social responsibility and journalistic duty by unearthing such reports for the public. Only when the full report is tabled in Parliament can a holistic view be taken. Witch-hunting, in the meanwhile, cannot be justified.