The other day, I visited Gandhi Smitri and Indira Gandhi Memorial here in Delhi. Both are memorials to Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi.
It is also where both leaders were assassinated.
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948, on the grounds of what is now called Gandhi Smitri.
He was walking to a prayer meeting when an assassin pulled a gun and shot Gandhi at point-blank range.
He died on the spot.
The grounds have now been transformed into a memorial of his life. The path he walked to his assassination is marked by stone footsteps.
I found the place quite tranquil yet sad.
Why was he assassinated ?? He was killed by a Hindu radical who saw the creation of Pakistan during Partition as a sell-out and a weakening of India.
The partition enforced by the British in 1947 resulted in one of the largest mass migrations in human history and sectarian killings on an unprecedented scale.
Even before Partition, the violent reaction against it generated immense tensions.
The thing was, Gandhi was against the creation of Pakistan on sectarian grounds. He probably could see what was going to happen.
|The path Gandhi took to his death|
|The spot where Gandhi was assassinated|
|Gandhi's worldly possessions|
|His famous glasses|
Indira Gandhi Memorial
Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 on the grounds of her house as she walked to an interview with Peter Ustinov.
As she approached a guard post, two of her Sikh bodyguards (one being her favourite who she’d known for 10 yrs) opened fire – one emptying his entire magazine into her body.
Her assassination was in retaliation to Operation “Blue Star” – the Indian Army’s assault on and damage to the golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the most sacred sites for the Sikh religion.
Both assassins made no attempt to run and gave themselves up immediately.
Both were taken away and within minutes, one was killed “while trying to escape”.
Why her Sikh bodyguards were allowed to stay on and guard her has never been adequately explained.
An enquiry into the assassination (the Thakkar Inquiry) pointed its suspicions towards the personal secretary to Mrs. Gandhi (Rajinder Dhawan). He had overruled the concerns of intelligence and security officials who wanted the removal of Sikh policemen in her security detail.
As a result of the assassination, anti-Sikh rioting broke out which resulted in over 8,000 deaths.
It is thought that the acts of violence were organized with support from Delhi police officials and the central government headed by Indira Gandhi’s son, Rajiv.
Rajiv was made Prime Minister soon after the assassination.
|The sari Indira Gandhi was wearing when she was assassinated|
|Indira Gandhi walked down this path towards the guard post in the distance...|
|...and was assassinated at the spot where the clear glass is|
Rajiv Gandhi memorial
The grounds also contain a memorial to Rajiv Ghandi’s life.
He was assassinated in 1991, in the southern of Tamil Nadu while campaigning for an upcoming election.
He arrived at a political rally where he was due to give a speech. As he made his way the dais, people placed floral wreaths around his.
His assassin, a woman, approached him, greeted him, bent down to touch his feet and then detonated an explosive vest she had hidden under her sari.
His assassin was a female LTTE suicide bomber.
The LTTE was a Sri Lankan separatist organization fighting for an independent Tamil homeland. They were also known as the “Tamil Tigers”. They were wiped out when the Sri Lankan Civil war ended in 2009.
|The remains of the clothes Rajiv Gandhi wore on the day of his assassination|