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The assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi: The Untold story

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It was 9:05 AM at 1, Safdarjung Road, the official residence of Prime Minister at New Delhi. Mrs Indira Gandhi, wearing a light orange sari and black sandals was walking towards her office at the adjoining 1, Akbar Road. The famous British actor Peter Ustinov was filming a documentary for Irish television was waiting there with his TV crew, to conduct his interview.

Delhi Police head Constable Narain Singh, who was holding a black umbrella over Mrs Gandhi’s head, possibly to shield her make up from early winter sun. Mrs Gandhi saw a servant carrying a tea set to place in front of Ustinov during the interview which was to start in the next couple of minutes. She told the servant to bring another fancier tea set which was normally used on very special occasions.

She walked briskly on the 20 mt cemented path, surrounded by neem and oak trees towards the gate separating the official residence and her office. More than halfway along the cemented path were two khakhi uniformed Sikh security men from Delhi Police.

The older man was Inspector Beant Singh whom she knew for last 10 years while the younger one was 21 year old constable Satwant Singh who was assigned to PM security for last five months.

Mrs Gandhi was hardly at five metre distance when Beant Singh took his .38 calibre revolver and fired three bullets towards her. She fell to the ground but Satwant Singh pointed his Sterling Sten gun and pumped all 30 bullets in her body. The time was 9.09 AM.

It was chaos all around and in next six minutes Tarsem Singh and Ram Sharan from Indo-Tibetan Border Police captured and killed Beant Singh in the adjoining security room. Satwant Singh also received the bullet injury but was arrested by other bodyguards along with Kehar Singh, another accomplice who was trying to escape.

The ambulance driver at PM’s residence was missing and so Dr R Opeh, the CGHS doctor on duty, daughter in law Sonia Gandhi and a security personnel placed her in an official white ambassador and was immediately rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at New Delhi where she was taken to the casualty.

The doctors, who examined her, reportedly checked her eyes and found her pupils dilated and fixed. They tried to feel for her pulse but found none and from there , she was shifted to Operation Theatre No. 2 on the 8th floor . The doctors were desperately trying to stop the bleeding.

The team of doctors who were attending to Mrs Gandhi included the Cardiac Surgeons Dr P. Venugopal, Dr Balaram and Dr A. Sampat Kumar. There were General Surgeons Dr Dhawan and Dr M.M. Kapoor and the anaesthetist G.R. Gode.

The hospital generally kept four bottles of Ms Gandhi’s rare blood group, O-negative in their stock but through that afternoon, the Hospital procured blood from other hospitals and as reported administered 30 to 40 bottles of blood.

It was becoming apparent to the doctors that Ms Gandhi was not responding to the treatment and her pupils remained motionless and dilated throughout the operation and she never regained pulse. Finally, after losing every hope of saving her from the inevitable, they declared her dead but the news was kept closely guarded secret as nothing was announced officially. It was 2.30 PM in New Delhi

It was just another normal day at Doordarshan, the only TV channel in those days. Though the news department was informed about the developments at the Prime Minister residence, no special bulletin came.

BBC was the first media house to announce the death of Mrs Gandhi in their special news bulletin saying “The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead in a shootout at her official residence”. It was 2.00 PM in New Delhi.

Her son, Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning in Kolaghat, West Bengal when he was informed about the shooting and after cancelling his meetings, he abandoned his Ambassador car and got into a black Mercedes and sped off towards the helipad at Kolaghat with Pranab Mukherjee, Ghani Khan Chowdhury. It was 9.45 AM.

“We thought the Mercedes would take lesser time than the Ambassador, hence the switch,” Mukherjee said in an interview. In the recently published memoirs of President Pranab Mukherjee, he writes that on the flight from Calcutta to Delhi after hearing the news of Mrs Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984, Rajiv asked him “would I be able to manage as Prime minister”.

Meanwhile, Rajiv put on the car radio and tuned into BBC world news. At around 10.00 am the three men, sitting silently in the back seat of the Mercedes and now speeding towards Kolaghat over 100 km per hour, heard the news of assassination in shocked disbelief. BBC did not confirm Mrs Gandhi’s death but did report that she was at All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in critical condition.

The broadcast went on giving details, sketchy as they were then, about the shooting and the suspected killers. It was pin drop silence inside the car and all men sat in the car in grim silence. The only words Rajiv spoke, recalled the ex President Mukherjee were ‘Is this all she deserved?'”

The three men flew by chopper to Calcutta, 40 kilometres away. There were two aircrafts standing by at the Calcutta Dumdum airport and within minutes Rajiv, Mukherjee and Chowdhury were on board in the Indian Airlines Boeing where they were joined by Uma Shankar Dikshit, his daughter-in-law Sheila Dikshit, Lok Sabha speaker Balram Jakhar and veteran Congress leader Shyamlal Yadav. The Lok Sabha secretary S Aggarwal and Rajya Sabha secretary S Kashyap were also accompanying them in the flight.

The flight left Calcutta for Delhi and Mukherjee, Dikshit and Rajiv sat in seats 2A, 2B and 2C, just behind the cockpit. Rajiv was seated next to the aisle and within minutes he made his way to the familiar cockpit where he had spent 12 of his last 16 years as an airline pilot. In the cockpit, the atmosphere was equally tense. The pilots were in continuous touch with the ground control and kept Rajiv informed of the latest situation in New Delhi. The cockpit watch showed the time, it was 1.15 PM.

It was almost 1.25 PM when the news Rajiv was expecting, but dreaded to hear, came crackling over the aircraft radio. Mrs Gandhi had finally succumbed to her injuries. A few minutes later, at 1.30 PM, an expressionless Rajiv came out of the cockpit and told Mukherjee and Uma Shankar Dikshit that Mrs Gandhi was no more. He was surprisingly very calm and his composure was striking. “He was in complete control of himself,” recalls Mukherjee, “though he obviously was in deep shock.”

Balram Jakhar, who was speaker of the Lok Sabha that time would have a pivotal role to play in ensuring an orderly succession, finally asked Mukherjee bluntly “Do you think Rajiv should be inducted as Prime Minister?”

Mukherjee recalls quite vividly that everyone in that flight agreed that AIR and Doordarshan should not officially broadcast the news of Mrs Gandhi’s death till

evening, long after the BBC had confirmed the news. By that time Rajiv was all set to be sworn as the sixth Prime minister of India. It was 6.45 PM in New Delhi and the politics in India has taken a historical turn.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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World gearing up for a third world war : UK warns of Russian threat

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There is a growing unease in United States and Britain about Russia  progressing in achieving “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics along the lines of the European Union under Vladimir Putin. Britain has warned that Russia is the biggest threat to UK’s security since the end of the Cold War. Drawing similarities with the 1914 First World war, UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson has equated Moscow to North Korea after Russia has threatened to unleash nuclear war.

Due to the Russians’ presence in the Mediterranean region and the Kremlin’s “increased assertiveness,” it is time Britain gets stronger, he said. This comes just a week after Britain ordered ships to pass the disputed South China Sea, much closer to the Chinese coast than the white cliffs of Dover.

General Nicholas Carter has also warned that Britain will be unable to preempt or respond to Russian aggression unless its military capabilities are overhauled to match Moscow’s military capabilities. Since 2000, Putin has been Russia’s most powerful man after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, holding positions of both prime minister and president and had been consistently working to achieve superpower status for Moscow and global hegemony equivalent to US.

The West became cautious of Puin moves after the Russian seizure of Crimea in March 2014, followed by its annexation. UK former defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon issued calls for increased defence spending, citing growing threats from Russia and cyber-attacks.

Fallon admitted that Britain has all the evidence of Putin’s intent to subvert western democracies, from the Netherlands to Montenegro, from Germany to even the United States.” “Through cyber, our enemies can target us anywhere on the planet: not only stealing our information, but exploiting us, coercing us, disrupting our energy supplies, our armaments, even our governments. Almost anybody can become a cyber-warrior: a laptop and some smart software can inflict enormous financial and physical damage on individuals and entire countries.”

To establish foothold in Middle East, Russia has significantly increased its military operations to Syria. Taking forward the geopolitical and ideological idea, Putin called for the Eurasian Movement of the Russian Federation, and said that there is a unique “Eurasian” civilization in Russia and its neighbors, distinct from both East and the West.

To pursue his goal, Putin clinched free trade pacts with countries to form Eurasian Union. The Russian leader is aggressively trying to achieve Eurasian integration process due to many common factors binding Russia and the European countries together : common history, geographical proximity, massive amounts of trade, etc. But confrontation is most likely between Russia and Europe.

The tensions between Russia and the West escalated after Russia air force purchased 10 of the strategic TU-160M nuclear bombers, code named Blackjacks by NATO. The TU-160M worth 15 billion rubles ($269 million) is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and can fly 7,500 miles non-stop without refuelling. US, UK and Europe are worried over Putin standing for re-election on March 18 – a poll showing he is likely to win.

Russia has deployed over 330,000 soldiers on its western border while NATO has stationed biggest military build-up on Moscow’s borders since the cold war. Moreover, Russia carried out simulated attack exercises across northern Europe, from Kaliningrad to Lithuania, as part of a new tactic in exploiting the gray areas between peace and war.

Talking about the military hardware, Britain fighter jets are stationed in Romania, US tanks, troops, artillery has been deployed in Poland to counter the Russian warships armed with cruise missiles in Baltic Sea.

An armada of Russian ships from the Baltic Fleet have been dispatched from Baltiysk naval base, in Kaliningrad Oblast, for large scale military exercises. Sweden, whose eastern coast borders the Baltic Sea, is issuing the advise for the first time since 1961 – the height of the Cold War.

U.S. National Security Strategy released by Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster states Russia and China are “revisionist” powers, genuine geopolitical rivals to the United States that “challenge American power, influence and interests,” while “attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”

Russia military has been deeply engaged in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine since April 2014, where fighting has claimed 10,000 lives. The United States, European Union and other Western countries are continuing to put political and economic pressure on the Kremlin. Putin’s Russia is active today. “Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, and Ukraine—he is either trying to get those countries back into his realm .

Washington approved for the first time lethal weapons sales to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed militias and the announcement of a new U.S. sanctions list that targets Russians such as the Kremlin-appointed strongman in Chechnya.

Russia denounced the American strategy document as an “imperialist” relic of a delusional superpower that persisted in acting unilaterally on the world stage.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Royal Orchid announces the opening of group’s newest hotel in Nashik

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 Royal Orchid Hotels, the fastest growing hospitality chain in India today announced the opening of its new hotel in Nashik named ‘Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village’. Nashik popularly known as the wine capital of the country has gained immense popularity among the tourist in India.

Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village, with 32 rooms offers boutique accommodation with varied dining and banquet facilities. The glorious property will give travelers a mesmerizing experience and contemporary luxury.

On-site amenities at the hotel include a completely refreshed restaurant, a winery, a state-of-the-art fitness center and outdoor pool, as well as a business centre, and spa services. The hotel has a wide range of facilities that let the guests choose from various room categories designed in keeping the touch of the city with elegance and relaxing atmosphere.

Located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra, Nashik is developing as a lively city with a blend of the ancient and modern touches attracting tourists from across the country. The city has numerous forts, temples, historic sites as well as a home to industries. The city offers green pastures, mountains and tours of the wine yard.

The most important attraction of the city includes Vineyards and Hindu temples situated in and around Nashik. May it be an important corporate event or a business meet or a simple getaway to explore nature and feel the essence of spirituality, Regenta Resort Soma Vine Village allows enormous options to its guests. The guests can experience the beauty and culture of Nasik just by availing one of the several facilities that the hotel provides to its patrons.

Chander K. Baljee, Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels said, “The hotel is the perfect complement to our recently refreshed Regenta portfolio of hotels across India. We are taking continuous steps towards expanding our presence all over India. The new hotel in Nasik is one such move towards achieving our aim. The government push toward tourism sector is giving us the much needed enthusiasm to go aggressive in adding new properties to our bouquet. Going forward we will continue to add more properties to both-explored and unexplored tourist destinations”

By now we have added eight properties – Mysore, Ahmedabad, Dehradun, Kanpur, Dwarka, Indore, Pushkar and now Nasik in the current fiscal year taking the number to 49 hotels. We will continue our efforts in expanding our presence all over India”.

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Nationalism of Narendra Modi is under question

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The economic bungling by Jeweller Nirav Modi, Business tycoon Vijay Mallya  and Lalit Modi has put a serious  question mark on the nationalism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His conspicuous silence on  India’s largest banking fraud to the tune of Rs 11,400-crore and still counting is shocking as he repeatedly claimed to have won the huge mandate on the basis of giving achhe din to the people of India but crony capitalists have escaped India with taxpayers’ money and there is no clarification from Narendra Modi who has taken the voter for a ride.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi  to speak on  the Nirav Modi and Rafale scams rather than seeking suggestions for his Mann Ki Baat programme from the general public.

The intentions of Modi government are also conspicuous when the central government  opposed a plea seeking an independent Special Investigation team ( SIT )probe and deportation of billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi in the Supreme Court,citing an FIR has already been filed and that a probe was on.

The Supreme Court has already admitted the PIL, filed by lawyer Vineet Dhanda in the Rs 11,400 crore PNB fraud and has now been listed for further hearing on March 16.The PIL has made Punjab National Bank, Reserve Bank of India and the ministries of finance and law and justice as parties.

Modi has been touring the world citing that his government is enhancing the status of India as an investor friendly country and where there is an ease of doing business. On the contrary, his reforms of demonetisation and GST has benefitted selected Business people having links with the ruling party and crony capitalists and general public has been made to bear the burnt. The economic frauds have dented the image of India globally and these types of  incidents would amplify questions about distress in the country’s financial sector reeling under bad loans.

What type of image is being projected when the  picture in which billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi is seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Davos where the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum took place  from 23 to 26 January 2018. The summit was attended by world’s leading figures .

On January 31, PNB filed a case of “criminal conspiracy and cheating” against the gem trader, members of his family and others two weeks ago alleging a 2.8 billion indian rupee ($44m) fraud.

The Modi government is busy creating eyewash by deploying agencies to probe the scandal  and the Central Bureau of Investigation  on Tuesday arrested five senior executives in connection with the multi-crore PNB fraud including Vipul Ambani (President, Finance, Firestar International/Diamonds group), Kavita Mankikar (executive assistant and authorised signatory of 3 accused firms), Arjun Patil (senior executive, Firestar group), Kapil Khandelwal (CFO, Nakshatra and Gitanjali group) and Niten Shahi (Manager, Gitanjali).

Modi asked people of India in 2014 to vote out corrupt UPA regime then how he and his government is defending the scandals that have occurred under his tenure of just four years . Modi is even trying to bring back the culprits to India .

The question should be asked to the ministers of Modi government what type of nationalism they carry with them when they do not value the life of Indian citizens ,when Dalits are being thrashed ,security personnel get killed on the border when our ruling political class provokes the enemy country just to showoff the Indian voter (woo voters) that they are superior than other political parties. Modi should have strengthened  the country militarily, economically and cohesively as an answer to the huge mandate given by the voters on trust.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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