On the morning of 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was walking through the garden that separated her home from her office to sit down for an interview with Peter Ustinov when she was shot dead by Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, members of her bodyguard. Gandhi, then in her sixteenth year as prime minister, had seemed as beloved – and as powerful – as any democratic leader in history. One measure of the former is the fact that her son Rajiv, an unproven political neophyte, was immediately installed as her successor and, two months later, returned to power with a 75 per cent share of seats in parliament.
The shots that killed Gandhi were heard around the world, but the events of the following week, which may be the most shameful episode in the history of the Republic of India, remain little known in the West. Gandhi’s assassins were Sikhs who believed they were avenging the