What happened on Oct 31, 1984: Recalling the assassination of Indira Gandhi 39 years ago, India’s Prime Minister was assassinated by her own security guards in the aftermath of the Army action at the holy Golden Temple. What happened on that fateful day, and afterward? Written by Arjun Sengupta New Delhi | Updated: October 31, 2023 09:19 IST Follow Us Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. (Express archive photo) Listen to this article 00:00 1x 1.5x 1.8x Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984. Two of the Prime Minister’s bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, fired over 30 bullets at her from point blank range, purportedly to avenge the humiliation of Sikhs and the desecration of the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star in June of that year. Indira’s assassination sent shockwaves through the nation, unleashing some of the most vicious communal violence India has ever seen. In just about three days, approximately 3,350 Sikhs (government estimates) were massacred, 2,800 in the national capital itself. This is what happened on that day 39 years ago. The Indian Express front page on October 31, 1984. The Prime Minister had a sense of foreboding In Operation Blue Star, the Indian Army entered Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, to flush out separatists residing in the premises. While successful in its intended objectives, it caused great damage to the temple and killed anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand Sikh civilians. This enraged Sikhs worldwide, who saw Blue Star as an assault on their faith. The Prime Minister, who had ordered the operation, bore the brunt of the blame. “Everyone knew that her life was in danger,” Katherine Frank wrote in her biography of Indira (Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi, 2001).
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