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the Assassination That Shook the Nation - 33 Years Ago !!

Posted on the 21 May 2024 by Sampathkumar Sampath

the assassination that shook the Nation ! ~ this day 33 years ago !!

the assassination that shook the Nation - 33 years ago !!

Pratap Singh Kairon [1901 – 1965] was the 3rd Chief Minister of the Punjab province (then comprising Punjab, Haryana and part of Himachal Pradesh), and is widely acknowledged as the architect of post-Independence Punjab Province.He had participated in Indian Independence movement too - jailed twice by the British Empire, once for five years for organizing protests against British rule.

On this day in 1939,the National War Memorial (titled The Response)a tall, granite memorial arch with accreted bronze sculptures in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, designed by Vernon March and first dedicated by King George VI in 1939 was opened. Originally built to commemorate the Canadians who died in the First World War, it was in 1982 rededicated to also include those killed in the Second World War and Korean War and again in 2014 to add the dead from the Second Boer War and War in Afghanistan, as well as all Canadians killed in all conflicts past and future. It now serves as the pre-eminent war memorial   ~ 21st May is remembered by Indians for different reasons though !

Any killing, murder is bad but assassination of top political leaders, especially President, Prime Minister, King or any such high official can resonate throughout a country. Sometimes the assassination of a leader is so shocking and profound that it triggers what psychologists call flashbulb memory in a country’s citizens. Many will remember forever where they were and what they were doing at the moment they heard their leader was murdered. As a result of painful experiences in their histories, most Governments now surround their leaders with protection.INDIA badly remembers assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi.There have been many Internationally “

— July 7, 2021: Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by gunmen who also wounded his wife Martine in an overnight raid on their Port-au-Prince home.

— April 20, 2021: Chad President Idriss Deby Itno was killed while battling rebels in the north. Hours earlier he had been declared the winner of an election that would have given him another six years in power.

— March 2, 2009: Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by renegade soldiers in his palace, hours after a bomb blast killed his rival in the West African nation.

— Dec. 27, 2007: Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister in a Muslim-majority country as well as Pakistan’s second nationally elected prime minister, was shot at & then attacked by a suicide bomber at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Literally the heart of Uttar Pradesh, Amethi had been the citadel of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The constituency has voted for the Congress most timessince its formation in 1967,Amethi’s first tryst with the Nehru-Gandhi family happened in 1980 when Sanjay Gandhi won the seat. In the next three decades, the constituency changed hands across three other members of the family, with Rahul Gandhi representing the seat since 2004. Though Sanjay Gandhi won, sadly he died in an accident and in the by-elections, (a reluctant) Rajiv Gandhi stood and won the elections.   In the 1981 by-election:Rajiv Gandhi secured 258884 votes (84.18%) while his nearest rival Sharad Yadav got 21188 (6.89%) – margin was 237696 !

Much before the assassinations of Gandhis’ – on 6 Feb 1965, Pratap Singh Kairon was on his way from Delhi to Chandigarh when he was waylaid near Rasoi village, Sonipat district, and shot dead along with his personal assistant

One may not concur with his political views and ideologies, may not support dynasty, may not support his party, may not like Bofors !but for sure would be outraged by the way he was eliminated.Rajiv statue at Andamans.

the assassination that shook the Nation - 33 years ago !!

He was born in1944, sent to London, joined engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not obtain a degree. He returned to India in 1966,became a member of the Flying Club, where he was trained as a pilot. In 1970, he was employed as a pilot by Air India.   On 23 June 1980, Rajiv's younger brother Sanjay Gandhi died unexpectedly in an aeroplane crash. At that time, Rajiv Gandhi was in London as part of his foreign tour. Hearing the news, he returned to Delhi and cremated Sanjay's body.   Rajiv entered politics on 16 February 1981, when he addressed a national farmers' rally in Delhi.   70 members of the Congress party signed a proposal and went to Indira, urging Rajiv to enter politics and he plunged into politics inevitably after the sad assassination in 31.10.1984 of Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Politics continues over the convicts in former PMRajiv Gandhi’s assassination case. Perhaps his own party too – which once stated that they had forgiven the killers and are silent on the death of League Munusamy and 18 others on that fateful day.His rule was marred by the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors pay-off case. The Bofors deal, signed in 1986, was believed to be one of primary reasons for the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress' defeat in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. 1991 too was an election year – held in 2 phases – each had a different impact.Maragatham Chandrasekar was to win by a margin of 180572 and the man lost his life campaigning for her this day.

Visitors to Chennai would not miss the landmark as they come out Central Railway station – the imposingGovernment General Hospital, visited by more than 12000 outpatients everyday. This premier institution dates back to 1664, startedas a small Hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the East India Company. It was the untiring inspired efforts of Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company that materialised in the first British Hospital at Madras. In its early days the Hospital was housed at the Fort St. George and in the next 25 years grew into a formal medical facility. Governor Sir. Elihu Yale was instrumental in the development of the Hospital and gave it a new premises with in the Fort in 1690.In 1842 the Hospital opened its doors to Indians.   In the 19th century, medical college got annexed to it and in 2011, the hospital was renamed after Rajiv Gandhi, sadly because his body was brought here after his assassination in May 1991.

This place (Sriperumpudur) is famous for being the birthplace of our greatest Acharyar – Sri Ramanujar ~ life has changed a lot in the past couple of decades after that fatefulday…..one may not ardently believe in ‘fate or destiny’…….in the prelude to General elections, there were far too varied predictions …… the National Front was still nursing some hopes, there was a wave predicting return of Rajiv Gandhi.In that melee, was this person, who had retired from active politics– not any ordinary person for sure~ a man who had been the CM too…. in 1984 in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi saw routing of all political parties.Bharatiya Janata Party could win only 2 seats. One in Mehsana and the other was in South ~ the Hanamkonda constituency where M. Chandupatla Janga Reddy of BJP defeated his nearest Congress rival by 54198 votes.The man who lost so at a time when Congress swept to power was 70 by the 1991 elections, could not get a ticket and had chosen to retire to peace…….. destiny thought otherwise….. he became the PM in 1991 – Sri PV Narasimha Rao.

The night of 21stMay 1991 changed it all ~ on a campaign trail, he arrived from Vizag, garlanded Nehru at Kathipara, even the Press chose not to travel along for that meeting at Sriperumpudur – and rest is bloody history – the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.About two hours after arriving in Madras), Rajiv Gandhi was driven by motorcade in a white Ambassador car to Sriperumbudur, stopping along the way at a few other election campaigning venues. When he reached a campaign rally in Sriperumbudur, he got out of his car and began to walk towards the dais where he would deliver a speech. Along the way, he was garlanded by many well-wishers, Congress party workers and school children. The assassin, Dhanu, approached and greeted him. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt tucked below her dress at exactly 10:10 PM.Rajiv, his assassin and 14 others were killed in the explosion that followed, along with 43 others who were grievously injured. .. .. a very sad day as the Nation lost its ex-Prime Minister assassinated in his own land and a host of innocent Tamilians who had gathered too died in that blast.

Nation sadly remembers and pays tribute to Rajiv Gandhi and to those innocents who too lost their lives in the same gruesome assassination this day !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st May 2024


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