Nation remembers Indira Gandhi on 25th death anniversary

Nation remembers Indira Gandhi on 25th death anniversary

Nation remembers Indira Gandhi on 25th death anniversary

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pays homage to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 25th death anniversary in New Delhi on Saturday. AFP Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul paid floral tributes to the late leader at her memorial 'Shakti Sthal' on th banks of river Yamuna.

Congress leaders Sushil Kumar Shinde, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ajay Maken, R K Dhawan and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among others who paid homage to the late prime minister.

An all-religion prayer was also organised on the occasion.

Known as 'Iron Lady', Indira ruled the country for 15 years in two stints before being assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

The assassination on Oct 31, 1984 triggered massive anti-Sikh riots in which 3,000 people were killed in three days in the national capital.

Her death came as a violent response to the Indian Army storming the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984 to confront heavily armed Sikh extremists.

Gandhi fell victim to her own bodyguards -- Satwant Singh, Beant Singh and Kehar Singh -- who pumped 31 bullets into the 66-year-old charismatic leader.
Two of her momentous but controversial decisions invoke strong reactions even today.
Siddharth Shankar Ray, former West Bengal Chief Minister and a barrister who was consulted by Gandhi on crucial occasions, says the decision to impose emergency in 1975 was taken by the Cabinet in a matter of minutes and there was no opposition.

Dhawan, her political aide, remembers that the country was headed for a "serious"  situation when there was a nation-wide rail strike and all sorts of confusion was sought to be created. The Allahabad High Court judgement and the Opposition demanded her resignation.
In the Cabinet, Dhawan said there was a demand that "something drastic"  needs to be done.
Ram Jethmalani, for long an MP and a bitter critic of the late prime minister during her life time, recalls that it was the poor and rural voters who brought her down and the same people voted her back to power.
"But she never treated me as an enemy. She was a fair opponent in her own way," he said.
The other decision was Operation Blue Star to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple which was cited by her killers as the reason for their action.
Dhawan says Gandhi gave the nod but regretted the decision later. "She (Gandhi) was told that it (Operation Blue Star) will be a simple operation. No damage will be done to the structure and there would be no loss of human lives. She was also told that terrorists would be flushed out of the temple in no time," he said.
"Though Gandhi was not informed that tanks would be used during the operation, it is true that once the army operation started, it was difficult to stop it," Dhawan said.
According to another Gandhi loyalist M L Fotedar, "Operation Blue Star was her compulsion. There was no alternative left to stop terrorist and other disruptive activities".

On the criticism faced by Gandhi after the operation and the anger of the Sikh community, Fotedar said, "Gandhi did not want to hurt any community or religion. This was the only option left to her to protect the country from outside forces".
It was another thing that her assassination also led to anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and different parts of the country that had claimed hundreds of lives and to this day haunts the Congress party.
Fondly remembering her mother-in-law, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has this to say: "She was a strong woman but she had a very gentle side to her many people don't know. She was composed and calm."
On the death anniversary today, Congress organised exhibitions on her life and times, held national integration rallies and blood donation camps across the country.
Among the series of events were the screening of a 42-minute film at an exhibition here on the life and times of Indira Gandhi displaying rare photographs and literature.
While rededicating themselves to her vision, ideals and commitment to the welfare of disadvantaged sections of the society, Congress leaders observed a two-minute silence at block, district and state party headquarters at 9.20 am, the time when Gandhi was assassinated.

In Patna, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid floral tributes to Gandhi. Former chief minister Jagannath Mishra was among those present on the occasion.
Kumar described Gandhi as a great visionary and person of strong will and said the nation would always remember her oustanding contributions.
On this occasion the leaders should rise above politics and pledge to uphold the country's unity and integrity, he said.
AICC leader and in-charge of party's Bihar affairs, Jagdish Tytler and state party chief Anil Sharma, besides several party leaders, also paid floral tributes.