The Bofors case is unique neither because of corruption nor because it was covered up. It is significant because it exposes India's tattered security. Quattrocchi is but one tentacle of the monstrous octopus that the politico-terrorist nexus has grown into. This octopus feeds on corruption. It controls the system. Can this nexus be smashed? Two events offer a faint hope. First, Quattrocchi has been detained in Argentina. Secondly, SK Jain has been charged finally for FERA violations in the Jain Hawala case. Revelations by both could expose the mafia that controls the system. There is a link between Jain and Quattrocchi. That link sheds some light on the mafia.
The Jain Hawala case was ruined because of divided loyalties among CBI officials investigating it. One was loyal to Narasimha Rao, another to LK Advani, the third to Madan Lal Khurana. CBI undertook the probe because Hawala was related to also terrorism. Hawala funds had been traced to Kashmiri separatists. During investigation the CBI stumbled on the Jain diaries. In it were listed the names of all the recipients of the Hawala money. The abbreviated names or initials of forty odd leading politicians, with the amounts paid to each, were also there. After questioning the Jain brothers, the recipients were identified. The exposure rocked the nation. Among the names were Congress bigwigs as well as LK Advani and Madan Lal Khurana from among the BJP leaders.
To protect all the politicians the first requirement was to convert the TADA case into a corruption case. This was accomplished. The two Kashmiri separatists in Delhi who had received Hawala funds were charged and eventually convicted. The further probe into terrorism was aborted. The CBI refused to prosecute the main conduit who had brought the foreign Hawala funds to Delhi, Moolchand Shah. Recently the same Moolchand Shah was convicted by the TADA court for funding the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993.
The next step was to slow down the probe. Searching for a quid pro quo required for proving corruption made that easy. The case against Madan Lal Khurana was weak. When he allegedly received the Hawala funds he was neither a chief minister nor an MP. But his name was in the diary. The payments to politicians were made just before a general election and were obviously for electoral purposes.
The worst aspect was not that politicians accepted the money. At least four politicians listed in the diary admitted to the CBI and to the media that they had received the money. They were perhaps unaware of its source. Even though, when Quattrocchi was charged in court, Advani stated that Quattrocchi was being made a scapegoat. It was a strange reaction from a BJP leader. Using black money for elections was, and still is, accepted practice. The worst aspect was that the politicians remained silent. They allowed a probe against terrorism to be buried.
Subsequently, the CBI official heading the investigation approached me. 'Advani merely used the 60 lakhs for elections,' he said. 'He distributed 3 lakhs to 20 candidates. What's wrong with that?'
'Nothing,' I replied. 'Why doesn't he admit that? What's there to be ashamed of? He had urged in the past that election funds should be only through cheques! So why remain silent and allow terrorists off the hook?'
The CBI official who was close to Khurana swung into action. He recorded a confession from Jain about the payments he had made to Narasimha Rao after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. Without consulting his senior officers the CBI official rushed to the Supreme Court, which was monitoring the investigation, and introduced this confession as part of the evidence.
That was how Rao's name was falsely dragged into the Jain Hawala case. Jain's confession implicating Rao merited a separate case, perhaps bigger than the one being probed, but it was not part of the Jain Hawala case. Rao's name figured nowhere in the diaries. His name was dragged in to help bury the case. The media accused Rao of manufacturing a spurious case. Meaning thereby that the Supreme Court took orders from Rao? Each newspaper had its own sacred cow to protect. One daily was beholden to Madhav Rao Scindia. Scindia too figured in the diary and had to quit the cabinet. Another newspaper was committed to the memory of Rajiv Gandhi. The Jain diary had Rajiv Gandhi's name too. It was listed as RG 200. This in code meant two crores. In his recorded confession to the CBI Jain said he had passed Rajiv Gandhi's share to Lalit Suri, who passed it to Captain Satish Sharma, who carried it to Gandhi.
Jain also described how Quattrocchi introduced him to Rajiv Gandhi. He disclosed how Rajiv Gandhi helped Jain obtain lucrative contracts for power projects. One of these was for the Uri project in Kashmir. That is how the terrorist angle crept in. A foreign engineer working in Uri was kidnapped by terrorists. Work on the project stopped. Hawala payments to the terrorists were made to obtain the engineer's release. Thereafter, work on the project resumed.
Jain also revealed that Quattrocchi introduced him to the Hawala kingpin, Ameer Bhai. The seizure of the Jain dairies revealed how Quattrocchi and Jain had utilized the money. Apart from the two crores allegedly paid to Rajiv Gandhi, the rest went to others, including top BJP leaders. On August 10, 1997 CBI told the court that Quattrocchi had diverted $ 19 million to Jain. This amount was 'share of the kickback received by Quattrocchi in a contract'. But CBI refused to identify the contract. Was it the Bofors contract? It may be noted that the total payments listed in the diaries equaled approximately Rs 64 crore. This was the same as the Bofors kickback. Quattrocchi was a common factor in both cases. Is it not possible that the Hawala fund came from the Bofors kickback?
If it did, how must Rajiv Gandhi have reacted after the diaries were seized and the list of recipients released? Eighteen days after the diaries were seized, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. That was one coincidence. It may be recalled that Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme who negotiated the Bofors contract with Rajiv Gandhi was also assassinated. That was another coincidence.
Now, if Jain was to sing in court, and Quattrocchi were to sing before CBI, would it not be a dream concert? And if they could sing a duet, would not that jugalbandibring the entire Indian mafia crashing down? A fond hope, as things are! Nevertheless, is it futile to hope that one day India's national security may actually be protected?