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My Rating - 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Harper Collins
Genre - Non-Fiction
Publishing year - 2022
Language - English
ISBN - 978-93-9440-756-5
Pages - 275

90 Days: The True Story of the Hunt for Rajiv Gandhi's Assassins by Anirudhya Mitra

Book Review - 

90 Days is a story of the assassination of India's youngest former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. After his mother, Indira Gandhi, was killed, he was sworn in as Prime Minister in 1984. However, he resigned in 1989 after the Congress party failed to win parliamentary elections. 

He was campaigning to win the next election and attending a rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, where he was assassinated on May 21, 1991, by a suicide bomber. At least 16 others, in addition to Rajiv Gandhi, were killed in this massacre. 

But why was he killed, and by whom?

The assassination was planned by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), also known as Tamil Tigers, founded by Velupillai Prabhakaran, a militant organization fighting for free land for Hindu Tamils in North-eastern Sri Lanka. LTTE's hitman Sivarasan, also known as One-Eyed Jack, had given the task of directing the assassination. 

Rajiv Gandhi was killed because he sent the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) to Sri Lanka to help their government end the Civil war and prevent the attacks of LTTE. 

Instead, it was stated that the IPKF committed human rights violations, plundered shops, and homes, and raped and brutally murdered civilians. If Rajiv Gandhi won the election, he might dispatch the troops again, and LTTE didn't want that, which is the main reason for them slaughtering him. 

The above information is the shorter version of a long history of LTTE, IPKF, Sri Lankan, and Indian Tamils, along with Rajiv Gandhi. If you wish to know more about the subject, you can find the answers online about many whys and hows. Now let's talk about the book and the author. 

At the time of the assassination, Anirudhya Mitra was working as a reporter in India Today magazine and was actively involved in the investigation; this book deciphers the elaborate ruse hatched by the LTTE supremo and the probe done by the SIT (Special Investigation Team) and other agencies. 

The author meticulously recounted the entire ordeal and how he gained the information from the sources, which led to some groundbreaking narratives. The only thing I didn't admire was the author's third-person portrayal of himself; it was not needed in the first place. 

As for the story, he did an exemplary job. Reading about the assassins and the help they get, hints of political aid, the hand of foreign land apart from LTTE, the denials and coverups of the agencies, the lack of communication, and miscommunication between the Indian agents were something that grabbed the attention, and it forced you to question many things about the whole approach. 

To be honest, this book was an eye-opener for me. I didn't know many things about Rajiv Gandhi's death, but after reading this book and doing my research parallelly, I realized some harsh truths about Indian politics and the whole judiciary system. 

One of them was the agencies' POV of not being able to catch Sivarasan alive was horrendous. If he were captured alive, I think he would be able to uncover many more complicities. It shows our officials' psyche and point of view toward the insufficiency of ability to work precisely. 

Another thing that disappointed me is the release of AG Perarivalan, the bombmaker (stated by the author), but online, you will find that he only bought batteries for the bomb. He has sentenced death penalty, then it was revised to life-term imprisonment, and on May 18, 2022, by Supreme Court, he was granted freedom. 

In one of his interviews, Perarivalan said that this verdict would definitely help the other convicts of the assassination. However, this raises the question - is this right to grant freedom to the assassins, conspirators, or facilitators of India's former PM? Should people like Perarivalan be glorified and interviewed by Indian media? This book opens a pandora's box for me. 

This book is perfect if you're interested in reading about the investigation process of Rajiv Gandhi's murder. It is a gem, and I can't recommend it enough. Also, I applaud Anirudhya Mitra's decision to pen this book and for providing a deeper understanding of the circumstances, possibilities, and coverups.

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  1. After reading all this, I have to say that i'm gonna read this book asap. Great work

  2. Great review, after reading this review I've come to decide that I'm gonna read this book ASAP.