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Indira Gandhi was shot on 31 October 1984 by her two "Sikh bodyguards", Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.

Indira Gandhi, the third prime minister of India and also the first and, to date, only female prime minister of India. She served as prime minister of India from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until the unfortunate day when she was assassinated in October 1984. She was shot at 9:29 a.m. on 31 October 1984 at her residence in Safdarjung Road, New Delhi by two of her "Sikh bodyguards", Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. She was shot at 9:29 a.m. on 31 October 1984 at her residence in Safdarjung Road, New Delhi by two of her "Sikh bodyguards", Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.

Just a day before her death at a public rally in Bhubaneswar Indira Gandhi spoke about the possibility of a violent end to her life which turned prophetic in just a day. In her speech she said-


"I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow . . . I do not care whether I live or die . . . I have lived a long life and I am proud that I spent the whole of my life in the service of my people . . . I shall continue to serve till my last breath and when I die, every drop of my blood will strengthen India and keep a united India alive."

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Operation Blue Star

The assassination happened in the aftermath of the "Operation Blue Star" carried out by the Indian Army under the directive of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Operation Blue Star was a large Indian military operation carried out and assault between 1st and 8th June 1984, to remove leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the buildings of the Harmandir Sahib complex aka the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. Thousands of people including both the Army and the militants fell victim to the violence and lost their lives.

Post Operation Blue Star and Assassination

Post Operation Blue Star the Intelligence viewed that the threat to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's life had increased and accordingly they removed Sikhs from her bodyguard due to the fear of an assassination happening. In contrary to the decision of the Intelligence Bureau Indira Gandhi wanted to change her anti-Sikh image among the public and strengthen herself against the political opponents. So, she ordered the Special Protection Group to rescind the transfer order and reinstate her Sikh Bodyguards, including Beant Singh who was her personal favorite as she trusted him after his many years of service.

But on the morning of 31st October 1984, these trusted bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh who were waiting for her at the gate of her residence opened fire at her as soon as she crossed the gate. Both the guards were captured and prosecuted. The conspirator of Gandhi's assassination Kehar Singh was tried and sentenced to death on 6 January 1989.

Post Gandhi's Assassination

 Sikh man being beaten to death in 1984 anti-Sikh riots More than 3000 Sikhs were murdered all over the country in retaliatory violenceWikimedia Commons


As soon as the news of Indira's assassination spread the recuperations from the masses engulfed the whole country in the fire of riots for the next four days. More than 3000 Sikhs were murdered all over the country in retaliatory violence. Even after Operation Blue Star and the Emergency Indira Gandhi was still popular among the masses and the rage against the Sikh community was evident. Vast segments of the population were mourning her loss, the loss of a great leader, the loss of the Iron lady of India. World leaders condemned the assassination and said her death would leave a 'big emptiness' in international affairs.

ALSO READ: '1984 riots shut our doors to a better life' (October 31 is the 32nd anniversary of Indira Gandhi's assassination)

Indira Gandhi was cremated as per Hindu tradition on 3 November near Raj Ghat. Hundreds of thousands of followers strained for a last glimpse of the cremation at the site and millions more watched the funeral of the great leader on television. The site where she was cremated came to be known as Shakti Sthal.

Keywords: Indira Gandhi, Operation blue star, Sikh riots, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, retaliatory violence, Beant Singh, Satwant Singh, prime minister of India, iron lady of india


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