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I will be traveling the next few days and have decided to take a much needed break from wriritng. This column will resume Monday, November 4th and in the mean time please enjoy the archives of "on this date in crime history." On October 31, 1984, Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by two of her own bodyguards. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, both Sikhs, emptied their guns into Gandhi as she walked to her office from an adjoining bungalow. Although the two assailants immediately surrendered, they were both shot in a subsequent scuffle, and Beant died.
In the late 1940s, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, attempted to forge a unified nation out of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural factions. His daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi), rose to power in 1966, fighting many of the same problems as her father had. Her own political career was a roller coaster, from the highs following India's victory over Pakistan in 1971 to the lows of being thrown out of office in 1977. Although many criticized her for being authoritarian, the majority of the population supported her because of her extensive social programs. In 1980, she was elected again, and enjoyed fairly widespread popularity. However, in June 1984, she ordered an army raid on a Sikh temple in Punjab to flush out armed extremists. Due to the fear of assassination, Beant Singh, her longtime bodyguard, was to be transferred because he was a Sikh. However, Gandhi personally rescinded the transfer order because she trusted him after his many years of service. Obviously, this was a fatal mistake for both of them. Satwant Singh, who survived to stand trial, was convicted in 1986 and executed in 1989. Gandhi's son, Rajiv, succeeded his mother as prime minister.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: