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The fateful 31st October, 1984 - Assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi

BY: Abhi | Category: India | Post Date: 2009-10-31

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What had seemingly looked like a normal day wasn't one. Mrs Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India was getting ready with her makeup man trying to give her the best look for an interview which she was supposed to face from a BBC correspondent/actor, Peter Ustinov, who was supposed to film a documentary on her life.

As Indira Gandhi accompanied by her secretary, assistants and staff was walking towards the main gate of her No. 1, Safdarjung Road residence in New Delhi, she was shot at for the first time by Beant Singh. Her first reaction when she saw the gun aimed at her was -Yeh kya kar rahe ho?- (What are you doing?).

Within 25 seconds as many as thirty bullets were shot at her body from the pistols of the two Sikh guards, Beant and Satwant Singh. She collapsed and fell. She was rushed to AIIMS, where at about late morning she was operated on, the news reached her son Rajiv Gandhi who was in West Bengal. He took a helicopter to reach Kolaghat from where he went to the Dum Dum Airport, boarded the flight to Delhi and reached AIIMS at about 3PM. While in chopper and in flight (he stayed in the cockpit throughout) he constantly took news of her mother by means of radio communication.

Amidst all these, speculation started about him succeeding his mother's chair - because Mrs. Indira Gandhi was already dead (the news was concealed from the public). Rajiv was in car while he was informed the details of the shocking demise as well as about the idea of his becoming the next PM. Sonia Gandhi, along with her kids, Rahul and Priyanka was waiting for her husband's arrival. For convenience the kids were left with Mrs Teji Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan's mother. The important confirmation about Rajiv's becoming the PM was carried out in a bathroom of the hospital by him and PC Alexander, Mrs Indira Gandhi's principal secretary. Sonia was dead against the decision and she literally begged him not to comply. She said she didn't want him to be PM since he would be killed; Rajiv replied to her -I'd be killed anyways-. This was later revealed by Mrs Sonia Gandhi in an interview.

Rajiv was sworn in as PM in the evening at 6:40PM How difficult it might have been for a son not even being able to mourn for his freshly deceased mother since he was chained by tremendous responsibilities. Then it was time to break the news, after all it was high time. It was in AIR (All India Radio) that the announcement was first made, followed by Doordarshan news at 8PM. The news reader who first announced publicly the death of Mrs. Indira Gandhi was Salma Sultan. Immediately the news spread like wildfire and caused India to go fuming. The crowd simply went mad with rage and since the very next day started the anti-Sikh massacre and atrocity where thousands of Sikhs were killed.
31st October, 1984 will always remain scribed in the minds of Indians and non-Indians having liitle knowledge about India

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A very sad incident
Killing of both Indira Ji and countless fellow Sikhs is was both painful and embarrassing. We in India need to live more peacefully and with a greater harmony. Jai Hind !!
Harjeet Singh 2009-10-31

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