An officer par excellence, a soft spoken gentleman, and a lover of Malayalam songs who could also sing well is how Radha Vinod Raju, IPS officer of J&K cadre, and founding director of National Investigation Agency is remembered.
Raju who passed away on June 21, 2012 at the age of 62 in Kochi had an illustrious career in the police but he would be remembered most for cracking the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. His friends and colleagues recall the professional skills and aver that he had a very deep knowledge of investigating techniques, and could foresee what others could not.
Born on July 27, 1949 Raju joined the Indian Police Service in 1975, and prior to that he worked as bank official. He was assigned to the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, and as destiny would have it Raju was directly pushed into fighting terror not only in India but across the country.
He went out of his way to fight terror in the country but colleagues recall that he had no religious or casteist biases, and said that this problem needs to fought at political, social levels as well. In his opinion, being on offensive against terrorists was a better ploy than waiting for them to strike.
He was first appointed as Superintendent of police in Poonch District, Jammu and Kashmir. Thereafter he joined as SP in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Ernakulam.
In 2009, he was appointed as the first chief of India’s National Investigation Agency. Before that he held the post of Director General of vigilance department of Jammu and Kashmir.
He headed the operational wing of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which found the killers of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. His service history also includes important cases like the Kandahar flight hijacking, Purulia arms drop case etc.
Raju’s excellent work won him several plaudits which include 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.
His colleagues recall that they have not seen a finer officer, and gentleman like him who could be calm, and poised in a very tense, and challenging environment. He was a role model for every police officer.
Jammu and Kashmir Education minister and PDP leader Nayeem Akhtar has nothing but praise for Raju whom he describes as one of the finest human beings he ever came in contact with. “Raju was one of the finest human beings I’ve come in contact with. His integrity was exemplary but that increased his efficiency, belying the general belief that one can’t deliver within the rules. I’ve a profound impact on my life from my association with the man in my formative years. Long years back, around 1990 he predicted my political future. One person I miss in my life who had a strange bonding with me. May he stay in peace”, said Akhtar.
Prof Amitabh Mattoo, former VC Jammu University recalls: “Raju was a great officer, a thorough gentleman, and a friend of friends. His professionalism, sense of integrity and duty makes him a role model of all police officers. As a friend you could count on him to stand by you in the most adverse circumstances”.
A former colleague, Dr Ashok Bhan, IPS said: “ My tributes to Raju sahib… a friend and a singer who spoke out his heart in his renderings like a small boy”.
Farooq Ahmad, retired IG, says that Raju was a leader, mentor, teacher and above all a friend. A good human being, a commodity very rare these days . It is very difficult to forget his memories for those whose life he touched in some way.
Sh Sabharwal, ex-DGP J&K police said “Raju was unforgettable, and irrepressible soul, and he will always remain in our minds and thoughts. J&K police family will always remember his exemplary conduct and deeds”.
SJM Gillani, IG Kashmir describes him as a rare gem, a warm human being, a true gentleman. “He will always be missed”, he adds.