Connect with us
Indira Gandhi assassination Indira Gandhi assassination

Blog

The assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi: The Untold story

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog

India kept its interests ‘safe’ at SCO Summit

If they look at the Northeast in the future from the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) rubric, that is a different matter.

Published

on

SCO SUMMIT

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) In keeping out of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and signing an agreement on sharing of hydrological data on the Brahmaputra river and another on exporting rice following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, India kept its interests safe in this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, experts said.

India has not extended support to President Xi’s flagship initiative as a key project under it, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Modi reiterated India’s position that international connectivity projects should respect other countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. Stating that connectivity with neighbours and within the SCO area is a priority for India, Modi, during his intervention at the Summit in Qingdao, China, on Sunday said: “We welcome new connectivity projects that are inclusive, sustainable and transparent, and respect countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The SCO is a Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism. India and Pakistan were granted full membership of the bloc in June last year. In the final Qingdao Declaration issued after the Summit, India’s name is conspicuously missing in the part about the BRI.

According to Anil Wadhwa, Senior Fellow in the Vivekananda International Foundation think tank and former Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry, the meeting between Modi and Xi was a forward movement from the informal meeting between the two leaders in Wuhan in April with decisions being taken to set up a special representatives-level meeting mechanism and to boost cultural relations between India and China.

As for India not extending support to the BRI, Wadhwa told IANS that nobody expected India to endorse Xi’s pet initiative.

“I don’t think it will affect India diplomatically as there is an understanding between both sides (India and China),” he said.

“If they look at the Northeast in the future from the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) rubric, that is a different matter.”

However, Wadhwa sounded sceptical about the two agreements signed between India and China – a memorandum of understanding on the Chinese side providing hydrological data on the Brahmaputra river in flood season from May 15 to October 15 every year and an amendment to a 2006 protocol for exporting rice from India to China to include the export of non-Basmati varieties of rice from India.

“With China already having built three dams on their side of the Brahmaputra, I don’t know how useful the data will be,” he said.

As for exporting non-Basmati varieties of rice, he said that such a market does not currently exist in China and this has to be created.

However, Sujit Dutta, a domain expert on China who is also Professor in the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Jamia Milia Islamia here, was positive about the two agreements.

“India kept its interests safe. While the agreement on sharing Brahmaputra will benefit India, the one on rice exports will help our farmers,” Dutta said.

As for the BRI, he said that India has always made it clear that it would not support the Chinese initiative.

“How can India support something that threatens its sovereignty with the CPEC going through PoK?” he said.

Modi said in Qingdao that India’s commitment to connectivity is visible nevertheless in the International North-South Transport Corridor, the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran, to which India, Iran and Afghanistan are signatories, and participation in specific projects like the Ashgabat Agreement, a multimodal transport agreement between India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Another reason for India not taking part in the BRI, Dutta said, is that Chinese loans for projects under this have high interest rates and terms and conditions are not transparent.

Giving Hambantota port in Sri Lanka as an example, he said that the port has been given to a Chinese company on a 99-year lease and Colombo will find it difficult to repay the loan.

He said that same is the case with Gwadar port in Pakistan and Islamabad might well come under Chinese influence after finding it difficult to repay loans.

“We (India) can’t become vulnerable to Chinese pressure and take loans which we can’t repay,” Dutta said.

According to C. Uday Bhaskar, strategic analyst and Director of the Society for Policy Studies think tank, the key takeaway from the SCO Summit “is the manner in which India conveyed to its SCO peers that it can remain resolute when it comes to core national interests, for example, sovereignty”.

“But it will also engage with the others in a principles, yet pragmatic manner,” Bhaskar said.

He said that the Indian stand on the BRI will be watched very closely not just by China, but all the other nations who have signed up.

“Hopefully, the Wuhan spirit will prevail with respect to the BRI and make the issue less intractable when President Xi visits India in 2019,” Bhaskar stated.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at [email protected])

Continue Reading

Blog

After Assam, NRC issue now simmers in Tripura as tribal parties agitate

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are also opposed to the Centre’s citizenship Bill.

Published

on

Related image

Agartala, June 12 : The burning issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is gradually spreading in Tripura as well, with tribal-based parties agitating to for an NRC updation exercise in the state with 1951 as the cut-off year.

Tripura’s three tribal-based parties — Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and National Conference of Tripura (NCT) — have started holding rallies and demonstrations to press their demand that the NRC be updated.

“We would again organise a five-hour sit-in demonstration on June 28 in Agartala to press for our demands. A similar demonstration would be held in New Delhi in September,” INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl told IANS.

He said: “If the other parties want to hold the agitation jointly, we are ready to do so. Earlier, in support of our demands, we have organised agitations, including a shutdown along with IPFT and NCT.”

The INPT, IPFT and NCT have also been demanding withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which is currently under review by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

These parties are also demanding introduction of an innerline permit to protect indigenous tribals, giving more power to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), restoration of alienated tribal lands and inclusion of tribals’ Kokborok language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

IPFT Vice President Ananta Debbarma said last month-end that they had organised big rallies in tribal areas, including at the TTAADC headquarters in Khumulwng, in support of the NRC and some other demands.

“We would soon hold a meeting of our party and decide our next course of action on NRC, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and other demands,” Debbarma told IANS.

The IPFT is the junior ally in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance government in Tripura, while the INPT is one of the oldest tribal parties in the state. It was formed in 2002 by merging three Tripura parties, including the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity (TUJS) and Tripura National Volunteers (TNV).

The TUJS was formed in 1967, while the erstwhile militant outfit TNV became a political party in 1988 following a tripartite agreement with the central and state governments.

The INPT, IPFT and the NCT in February last year formed the All Tripura Indigenous Regional Parties Forum (ATIRPF) and spearheaded various agitations across the state in support of their demands.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who have fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or those whose valid documents expired in recent years, to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are also opposed to the Centre’s citizenship Bill.

“The CPI-M is also opposed to the Bill and supports the Indira-Mujib pact which determined March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date to detect illegal infiltration into India from Bangladesh,” CPI-M’s Chief Whip in the Lok Sabha and senior tribal leader Jitendra Chaudhury told IANS.

“We have not yet discussed about the NRC in Tripura. However, people, particularly the minorities, are being harassed in Assam while conducting hearings on NRC,” said Chaudhury, who is also National Coordinator of the CPI-M-backed Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch and President of the Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad — a frontal body of the CPI-M.

The second draft of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC in neighbouring Assam would be published on June 30, while the first NRC draft was made available to the people on December 31, after inclusion of names of 1.9 crore people of the total 3.29 crore applicants in the BJP-ruled state.

The NRC Assam, the register containing names of Indian citizens in the state, was prepared in 1951 as a non-statutory process by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during the 1951 census.

The Assam agitation (1979-85) against the illegal foreigners led to the signing of Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, between the Centre, the state government, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), which stipulated March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal migrants from East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

Accordingly, the Citizenship Act, 1955, was amended by inserting Section 6A as a special provision for Assam.

In a tripartite meeting between the Centre, the state government and AASU, chaired by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in May 2005, it was agreed to update the NRC of 1951. The modalities were approved by the government of India in consultation with the government of Assam.

After the Supreme Court’s directive, the exercise of NRC updation in Assam commenced in December 2013, to be completed over a period of three years. The apex court is closely supervising the progress of NRC update and has given various directions from time to time.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be reached at [email protected])

Continue Reading

Analysis

Ministry says yoga is not sport, but DU colleges still reserve seats

Colleges have autonomy to choose the sports under which they wish to give admissions. University cannot tell a college to pick a specific sport. It is their discretion. These sports do not come under Sports Ministry, nor are they regulated by it.

Published

on

Delhi University

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Is yoga a sport? The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) says it is not. Yet, 11 Delhi University (DU) colleges have this year reserved seats for the discipline under their sports quota.

The university and the colleges, meanwhile, have been shifting responsibility back and forth.

After recognising it as a sport in 2015, the MYAS reversed its decision the next year. “After elaborate discussion, it was concluded that yoga has various dimensions/arms in which competitions are not possible. Hence, it was agreed that Yoga cannot be termed a sport. Consequently, it may not be appropriate to recognise any organisation as NSF (national sports federation) for yoga,” the Sports Ministry had said in a letter dated December 21, 2016, to all national sports federations and the Indian Olympic Assocation.

“It was also agreed that the entire matter relating to yoga will continue to be handled by the Ministry of AYUSH,” the letter said.

When IANS contacted the DU Sports Council for a clarification, it said that the colleges had requested the university to conduct yoga trials.

“Yes, Yoga has been under sports quota and it has been there in previous years also. Last year, 19 colleges had applied for trial for Yoga under sports quota. The decision, in which sports admissions are to be made, are taken by the colleges,” Anil Kalkal, Director of the varsity sports council which conducts the centralised trials for sports quota on behalf of colleges, told IANS.

“Colleges have autonomy to choose the sports under which they wish to give admissions. University cannot tell a college to pick a specific sport. It is their discretion. These sports do not come under Sports Ministry, nor are they regulated by it,” he said.

Although colleges are entitled to choose a sport for trials and reserve seats under it, the list of sports from which they are to choose is compiled by the varsity.

Kalkal cited another factor in the form of inter-university competition, held by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) — a non-governmental body listed under the Societies Act — as one of the reasons for considering Yoga as sport.

“If such was the thing (de-recognition) why would AIU conduct the yoga competition? The day AIU will tell us that Yoga is not a sport and stop conducting the competition, we will stop taking admission under it,” he said.

“If colleges are requesting to admit students under yoga, what can the university do? We have to conduct the trials. You should ask the colleges why they requested us to conduct yoga trials,” he said.

An official from one of the colleges which has reserved seats for Yoga this year, when contacted, passed the buck to the university.

“We consider Delhi University and AIU the governing bodies. If an activity is listed as sport by the university, we follow that. If DU tells us that it will not conduct trials in yoga then we will also give it up. Government doesn’t have a role in it,” M.P. Sharma, sports Convener at Hansraj College, told IANS.

Ambiguity on the legal sanction of quota for yoga got further worsened when an AIU official conceded that the association itself didn’t consider yoga as a sport.

“The competition is there because it helps in maintaining your body, mind and spirit. We do not consider it sport. This is not a sport. But we conduct the competition to improve the standard of performance,” said AIU Joint Secretary (Sports) Gurdeep Singh.

Singh also conceded that association’s decisions are not binding on the university.

“We have nothing to do with the DU sports quota. DU follows its own constitution. You talk to DU for this. A collective decision is made by our sports board. Whatever is in the larger interest of students, we do that. It’s not a sport but an activity, which helps strike a balance. The entire world has recognised the value of yoga, I don’t know why only here people have an issue with it,” he said.

However, in spite of what Singh said, the AIU website lists yoga as a sport in its “Calendar of Events” for 2017.

Although it is a thing which has been going on for years, some DU teachers, when apprised of the matter, called the decision (listing of yoga as sport by the university) as “arbitrary”, stating that it was never presented before the Academic or the Executive Council of the university.

“As far as reservation of seats under sports quota is concerned, we have an understanding of reserving them for only those sports which are recognised in Olympics. On what basis can they include yoga in it? asks Rajesh Jha, a DU professor and Executive Council member.

“This will end up undermining the chances of admission of those who are trained in genuine sports. This seems like a completely arbitrary decision,” he added.

Trials for yoga are scheduled to be conducted later this month.

Apart from Hansraj, Gargi College, Deshbandhu College, College of Vocational studies, and Kalindi College are few of those which have given their names for yoga trials and have reserved seats under the activity.

(Vishal Narayan can be contacted at [email protected])

— IANS

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular