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1984: Indian prime minister shot dead

AUDIO : Mrs Gandhi is confirmed dead from gun shot wounds

Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, has been killed by assassins in New Delhi.

Mrs Gandhi was thought to have been walking through her gardens this morning when she was shot. She was taken to the All India Medical Hospital where she underwent an emergency operation to remove the bullets but died an hour and a half later.

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.

Mrs Gandhi had been receiving death threats since the attack on the temple in which 1,000 people died.

The night before her death she told a political rally: "I don't mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation."

Security throughout the country has been stepped up. Roads to the hospital and the home of the prime minister have been sealed off and borders around Delhi have been closed.


"If I die today, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation"

Indira Gandhi

The Indian cabinet has started an emergency meeting to choose a successor.

India's High Commissioner, Prakash Mehrotra, said: "Democracy is very deep rooted in our country and the country is prepared to face any situation. A meeting is being called in Delhi, it is usual that the number two man in the cabinet takes charge for the time being,"

Mrs Gandhi first became prime minister in 1966 and again in 1980 and was praised for her battle against famine in rural areas.

Stan Orme from the Anglo Indian Parliamentary Association said: "It is a very terrible thing. She was a very impressive person, very strong-willed. It is a real tragedy."

In Context
Riots erupted across India following the murder of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as Hindus took their revenge on Sikhs who were blamed for the assassination.

In the days following the death of the prime minister up to 1,000 people are thought to have died. The army were ordered to go into the cities and quell the violence.

Mrs Gandhi's son, Rajiv, was sworn in as her successor within hours of her death. He went on to win a landslide victory in the general election in December 1984.

On 6 January 1989, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh were hanged for killing Mrs Gandhi. Balbir Singh was acquitted.

Rajiv Gandhi was himself assassinated by a suicide bomber on 21 May 1991.


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