Today, 31st October 2009, is the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Indira Ghandi in her residence in Delhi by two of her Sikh security guards.
Initial reports suggest the two attackers were guards at her home who were then shot by other security officers. No exact motive is known but it is believed the pair were Sikh extremists acting in retaliation for the storming of the Sikh holy shrine of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June.
She was India’s iron lady, her first woman prime minister, and one of her last mass leaders. Even 25 years after her death, Indira Gandhi is regarded by many as the country’s best prime minister. Her extensive agricultural and financial reforms are still relevant. Yet, she is equally remembered for bringing Indian democracy nearly to its feet with her high-handedness.
Sonia Gandhi: She was at her best when faced with challenges. If she was pushed to the wall, there was pressure on her, she would come out and really fight back.
But Delhi was my first full-scale communal riot. Pogrom might be a better word. To belong to the 8% or so of the city’s population which was Sikh was to know terror during those days in late 1984; in terms of civilian bloodletting, India had seen nothing like it in almost 40 years. Not to be known as a Sikh, not to be bearded and turbaned, not to be carrying a ceremonial dagger, not to be wearing orthodox underpants; all these negatives made you safe.
Papaji and his colleague Satwant Singh had gone to Harmandar Sahib to pay obeisance after the Blue Star incident. On learning the exact motive of the attack, the way in which it was actually executed and on seeing the devastation of the place and plight of Sikhs, both of them decided to assassinate Indira Gandhi on their own.
Indians on Saturday flocked to Shakti Sthal to pay homage to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 25th death anniversary. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the slain leader’s daughter-in-law, were amongst the first to pay tribute at her memorial on the banks of the Yamuna river. An all-religion prayer was also organised on the occasion.
Strong-willed, autocratic and determined to govern an almost ungovernable nation that seemed always in strife, Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister four times and the dominant figure in India for almost two decades.