Addressing an election rally in Rajasthan on Wednesday Mr. Rahul Gandhi following on his earlier emotional reference to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi shedding tears during the Food Security Bill debate upped the ante on tear-jerking emotion to sway his audience. Referring to the BJP’s politics of hatred Mr. Gandhi said that like his grandmother and father he too could be assassinated.
“My grandmother was killed. My father was assassinated and perhaps I may also be killed one day. I am not bothered. I had to tell you what I felt from the heart,” he declared. “I am against BJP's politics ... What do they do. They will put Muzaffarnagar on fire, Gujarat on fire, UP on fire and Kashmir on fire and then you and we will have to douse that. This damages the country,”
Mr. Gandhi went on to say that it took him over a decade to overcome his anger against his friends Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, the two bodyguards of Indira Gandhi who shot her. Gesturing towards Sikhs present in the audience he said that the anger of the people in Punjab had by now subsided.
Mr. Gandhi’s allusion to the communal politics of the BJP is unexceptionable. But he should refrain from alluding to any opposition party of the majority or minority community for being complicit in the murders of his grandmother and father. If their deaths indeed create foreboding in his mind about his own future he had better focus his attention on the enemies within. Both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were victims of cold blooded murder as part of a conspiracy in which the Congress hand required serious investigation. I was a consistent and trenchant critic of Indira Gandhi. But it was her policies I opposed, not her person. I respected her as a person. What an irony then, that after her murder I was almost the lone voice raised against the cover up of her assassination and the injustice done to the memory of a former world leader. Apart from stray murmurs here and there I cannot recall any other voice that rose in protest over how her death was probed. All the Congress knaves and sycophants who had thrived under Indira Gandhi remained silent. They were busy feathering their nests under the new dispensation. For the benefit of Mr. Gandhi, his party colleagues and a large number of Indians here are a few bald and irrefutable facts related the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Consider these facts and connect the dots to reach a surmise.
Beant Singh and Sarwant Singh were two Sikh bodyguards who shot Indira Gandhi.
Beant was the main killer and leader of the duo. His induction as the Prime Minister’s bodyguard is the first mystery. He had a tainted record of being involved in the drug trade and women’s trafficking.
How did security allow him to be inducted in the PM’s residence? He became close to the family. Mr. Rahul Gandhi is right in referring to him as a friend. He sometimes played badminton with Rahul and Priyanka who were children then.
On the day of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination she was to give a TV interview to an Irish crew led by the famous actor, Peter Ustinov. He was of Russian origin. It is not established if he had any distant relationship with the then Russian Defence Minister, Marshall Ustinov. Reportedly the Soviet government had then opposed India’s rumoured plan to bomb the Kahuta nuclear plant in Pakistan. The plan never fructified.
Beant Singh and Satwant Singh were not supposed to be on guard duty when Mrs. Gandhi was scheduled to attend the TV interview. The PM’s secretary Mr. RK Dhawan had Indira Gandhi’s appointment diary. The noting was changed to ensure that Beant and Satwant would be on duty at the fatal hour. The change in the diary noting was rendered in a different handwriting from the remaining passage. Till this day it has not been established who made the change in the timings of Beant’s and Satwant’s guard duty to ensure their presence when Indira Gandhi was shot. Only Mr. Dhawan had the information.
On the fateful day unlike normal practice Indira Gandhi did not wear a bullet proof vest. It is not known why she did not wear it or whether anyone dissuaded her from wearing it. When she entered the house from the adjacent building where she resided and walked towards the garden Beant and Satwant shot her. Mr. RK Dhawan was walking right behind her. The first FIR on her death lodged with the police reported Beant shouting in Punjabi to Satwant just before the shooting, “Be careful, Dhawan should not be hurt!”
Mrs. Gandhi died on the spot. Beant and Satwant threw down their weapons and surrendered. Members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) who were in charge took both in custody and placed them in an adjoining guard house in the house compound. After 45 minutes both were shot in cold blood by the ITBP personnel. The next 7 minutes after the assassination were covered on camera by the TV crew. The film was never procured by investigators and shown to the public. It has never been established who gave the orders of the shooting in cold blood that silenced forever Beant Singh who could have been forced to reveal the whole truth about the plot to kill Indira Gandhi.
Justice Thakkar was appointed to conduct an enquiry into the murder. At the end of his report he suggested that there was a conspiracy behind the murder and a fresh Inquiry Commission to probe the conspiracy angle should be instituted. He wrote that “the needle of suspicion” pointed at Mr. RK Dhawan.
An inquiry into the conspiracy nailed Kehar Singh, whose family was friendly with Beant Singh’s family, for the plot to kill Indira Gandhi. There was no evidence against Kehar Singh except that along with his family he had visited the Golden Temple accompanied by Beant’s family. The Supreme Court gave Kehar Singh the death sentence. It was an atrocious judgment. Mr. Ram Jethmalani who had appeared in the case approached me with the request that I write against the judgment. I did so in an article published in The Indian Express. Surprisingly, in unprecedented fashion the Supreme Court then wrote to the President advising him to use his discretion to commute the sentence. The President, himself a Sikh, could not oblige. Kehar Singh was hanged.
After Indira Gandhi’s death Mr. RK Dhawan was out of office and favour. But surprisingly, he soon was back in favour and in his old post. The argument that the Thakkar Commission Report which nailed him could have been flawed is difficult to believe because Justice Thakkar too after his report prospered. He was appointed Chairman of the Law Commission Board. There emerged the strange spectacle of both the accuser and the accused being rewarded by the government led by the son of the slain Prime Minister.
Surely by any reckoning there are many troublesome questions related to Indira Gandhi’s murder which remain unanswered. It would be facile and dangerous to blame opposition parties for the assassination. It is true that Sikhs were angry. A few were even happy about the assassination. But these reactions were a far cry from plotting the murder. It would be dangerous to ignore the conspiracy angle for which there was considerable evidence but was never solved.
It is doubly dangerous for Mr. Rahul Gandhi to talk about assassinations and the possibility of him being assassinated in order to influence voters. We are living in crazy times. There is no dearth of cold blooded conspirators lurking in our midst. They may get ideas. India cannot bear to witness another general election fought on a sympathy wave. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in circumstances equally puzzling. But this is not the occasion to dwell on the unexplained mysteries related to the deaths of Mahatma Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. These can be dealt with when the time comes to finally bury the Congress party, thus fulfilling the last wish of Mahatma Gandhi.