India remembers Indira Gandhi

India remembers Indira Gandhi

India remembers Indira Gandhi

Satish, an employee of the Indian Railways in Chennai, is on a tour to Delhi. Before he and his friends could have a closer look at the crystal-covered pathway linking 1 Safdarjung Road and 1 Akbar Road, they heard Bagga again: “Keep moving. Do not make a crowd here. Move ahead,” said the paramilitary guard, in a hushed but firm tone.

‘Keep moving’ and ‘move ahead’ are perhaps the words that are the most heard at the Indira Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi. Bagga is not alone; all other officials controlling the crowd keep on repeating them between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm everyday. And, on Saturday, they all did so a few hundred times more than other days.

For, it was the 25th death anniversary of the former prime minister. “Yes, it seems there are more visitors today than the other days,” said Bagga, who stood guard near the green security-post where Satwant Singh and Beant Singh had on October 31, 1984, fired from to avenge the Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple.

In the morning, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi joined about a hundred political notables to pay floral tributes to the ‘Iron Lady’ at the assassination site. Also present were Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi.
To ensure tight security during the VVIPs’ visit, the memorial was closed for almost an hour in the morning.

“We came in the morning, but could not enter the premises as it was closed between 10:30 am and 11:30 am,” said Devesh Pande, who runs a pharmacy at Gaya in Bihar.
Devesh and his wife Geeta are on a honeymoon tour and it was the last day of their stay in Delhi. “Before we left home for Delhi, my father told me not to miss the memorial of Indira Gandhi. So we waited till the gate opened,” he said.

It has been 25 years since she was killed by her own bodyguards, but India’s first — and the only, till now — woman prime minister still receives nearly 8,000-10,000 people every day at what was once her official residence.

Hari Das, an official, said the memorial received more visitors during weekends. “We often see elderly people getting emotional while visiting the memorial. Some of them even break into tears,” said Das.

College teacher Satish Rai came with his wife and children from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh. “There is no doubt she has been the greatest PM we ever had. She had led the nation at a very difficult time,” said Rai, as his wife Renu was busy showing the bullet mark in the saree that Gandhi had worn on the day of her assassination.