Indira Gandhi’s assassination triggered Sikh genocide – Down Memory Lane

On October 31st in 1984 then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards inside her bungalow at 1, Safdarjung Road. New Delhi. Prime Minister was on her way to give an interview to a popular international television channel when her bodyguards opened fire on her. Gandhi fell on the ground. She was then rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) by her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi along with other Congress members. Her husband Rajiv Gandhi was away on an election campaigning trail. Both Rahul and Priyanka were too young then. Entire country was stunned to hear the news of assassination.

At 6PM on Doordarshan news (only Doordarshan exited then), the announcer declared her dead and with that official state mourning was announced. Many opined that in real Gandhi had succumbed to the bullets in the morning itself but due to some political reasons (her son Rajiv Gandhi too was away) it was announced late in the evening.

The next part was really very sad as minutes after declaring Prime Minister dead, riots had broke out across the country. While some parts were worst affected. In Delhi, the genocide had continued for three days. The troops were called in on the third day when they staged a flag march and took the situation in their control. Three Congress members and close confidant to the Gandhis – HKL Bhagat (also called the architect of East Delhi), Jagdish Tytler or JD Tytler, and Sajjan Kumar were accused of fanning the riots.

Congress had refuted all the allegations calling it as an emotional outbreak of the people who loved their beloved Prime Minister. It was during this time a controversial statement by Rajiv Gandhi surfaced – “When big tree falls, earth shakes”. later Rajiv Gandhi had give explanation, and he said he never meant the words and he too condemns the riots. However, till date nothing has been done against the three accused.

The 1984 Sikh Riots or Sikh Genocide as its called saw the killing of over 2,800 Sikhs in Delhi itself, and over 3,350 across the country. This day on one hand is a solemn day for the Congress as it lost Indira Gandhi and on the other its a black day as so many Sikhs became victim to the genocide.

However, Congress did nothing to open this case and punish the accused inspite of being in power after this ghastly killings.

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