Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:“Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
He died of old age complications and illness, family members said.
Popularly called Bapu (father) Shingara Singh, the freedom fighter used to point out to his hand where he claimed that he was shot. He was in his early 20s when the incident took place April 13, 1919.
British Army officer Dyer had commanded his troops to the Bagh on Baisakhi Day (April 13), located in a congested residential and commercial area near the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as Golden Temple), and opened fire without a warning to the unarmed protestors demanding an end to British rule in India.
Dyer’s troops fired and killed hundreds and stopped only when they ran out of ammunition. The massacre could have been more deadly had Dyer realised his plan to fire from a machine-gun fitted armoured vehicle. The vehicle could not enter the narrow by-lane leading to the garden and had to stop outside.
The Bagh, enclosed from all four sides with buildings, had only one main entrance that was blocked by Dyer’s troops. Other smaller gates were locked and people fleeing from the firing were shot. Many of them jumped to their death in a well inside the garden.
The British government officially put the casualties at 379 dead and over 1,100 injured. But local witnesses had claimed that nearly 2,000 people were killed in the massacre - the bloodiest in India’s freedom struggle.
Singh, who was specially honoured by then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam during a visit to the Bagh in March 2003, had, in recent years, rued the government apathy to him and his family.
But Monday saw Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal expressing sorrow at his demise.
Badal senior described him as an “icon of the pre-independence movement who was the last surviving witness to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre”.
The Jallianwala Bagh is now a national memorial highlighting the sacrifice of hundreds of unknown men, women and children, including an infant, for India’s freedom struggle.
This is for information.
The statement that you are about to read is the last made by Godse before
the Court on the 5th of May 1949. Such was the power and eloquence of this
statement that one of the judges, G. D. Khosla, later wrote, "I have,
however, no doudt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a
jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have
brought a verdict of 'not Guilty' by an overwhelming majority"
*WHY I KILLED GANDHI*
Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came to revere Hindu
religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had, therefore, been intensely
proud of Hinduism as a whole. As I grew up I developed a tendency to free
thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any isms, political
or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of
untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined
anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus were of equal status as
to rights, social and religious and should be considered high or low on
merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or
profession. I used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners in
which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Chamars and
Bhangis participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of
each other. I have read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai Naoroji,
Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak, along with the books of ancient and modern
history of India and some prominent countries like England, France, America
and Russia. Moreover I studied the tenets of Socialism and Marxism. But
above all I studied very closely whatever Veer Savarkar and Gandhiji had
written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more
to the moulding of the thought and action of the Indian people during the
last thirty years or so, than any other single factor has done.
All this reading and thinking led me to believe it was my first duty to
serve Hindudom and Hindus both as a patriot and as a world citizen. To
secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty crores
(300 million) of Hindus would automatically constitute the freedom and the
well-being of all India, one fifth of human race. This conviction led me
naturally to devote myself to the Hindu Sanghtanist ideology and programme,
which alone, I came to believe, could win and preserve the national
Independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable her to render true
service to humanity as well.
Since the year 1920, that is, after the demise of Lokamanya Tilak,
Gandhiji's influence in the Congress first increased and then became
supreme. His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their
intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence which
he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened
person could object to those slogans. In fact there is nothing new or
original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement.
But it is nothing but a mere dream if you imagine that the bulk of mankind
is, or can ever become, capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty
principles in its normal life from day to day.
In fact, honour, duty and love of one's own kith and kin and country might
often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never
conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust. I would
consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and, if possible, to
overpower such an enemy by use of force. [In the Ramayana] Rama killed
Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita.. [In the Mahabharata] ,
Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay
quite a number of his friends and relations including the revered Bhishma
because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief
that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma
betrayed a total ignorance of the springs of human action. In more recent
history, it was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji that first
checked and eventually destroyed the Muslim tyranny in India. It was
absolutely essentially for Shivaji to overpower and kill an aggressive Afzal
Khan, failing which he would have lost his own life. In condemning history's
towering warriors like Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Gobind Singh as
misguided patriots, Gandhiji has merely exposed his self-conceit. He was,
paradoxical as it may appear, a violent pacifist who brought untold
calamities on the country in the name of truth and non-violence, while Rana
Pratap, Shivaji and the Guru will remain enshrined in the hearts of their
countrymen for ever for the freedom they brought to them.
The accumulating provocation of thirty-two years, culminating in his last
pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of
Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately. Gandhi had done very good in
South Africa to uphold the rights and well-being of the Indian community
there. But when he finally returned to India he developed a subjective
mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right
or wrong. If the country wanted his leadership, it had to accept his
infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and
carry on his own way. Against such an attitude there can be no halfway
house. Either Congress had to surrender its will to his and had to be
content with playing second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality,
metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He
alone was the Judge of everyone and every thing; he was the master brain
guiding the civil disobedience movement; no other could know the technique
of that movement.The most dictatorial He alone knew when to begin and when
to withdraw it. The movement might succeed or fail, it might bring untold
disaster and political reverses but that could make no difference to the
Mahatma's infallibility. 'A Satyagrahi can never fail' was his formula for
declaring his own infallibility and nobody except himself knew what a
Satyagrahi is. Thus, the Mahatma became the judge and jury in his own cause.
These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a most severe
austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhi formidable
and irresistible. Many people thought that his politics were irrational but
they had either to withdraw from the Congress or place their intelligence at
his feet to do with as he liked. In a position of such absolute
irresponsibility Gandhi was guilty of blunder after blunder, failure after
failure, disaster after disaster. Gandhi's pro-Muslim policy is blatantly in
his perverse attitude on the question of the national language of India. It
is quite obvious that Hindi has the most prior claim to be accepted as the
premier language. In the beginning of his career in India, Gandhi gave a
great impetus to Hindi but as he found that the Muslims did not like it, he
became a champion of what is called Hindustani.. Everybody in India knows
that there is no language called Hindustani; it has no grammar; it has no
vocabulary. It is a mere dialect, it is spoken, but not written. It is a
bastard tongue and cross-breed between Hindi and Urdu, and not even the
Mahatma's sophistry could make it popular. But in his desire to please the
Muslims he insisted that Hindustani alone should be the national language of
India. His blind followers, of course, supported him and the so-called
hybrid language began to be used.(Start of the pampering of the Muslims
which is still going on)
The charm and purity of the Hindi language was to be prostituted to please
the Muslims. All his experiments were at the expense of the Hindus. From
August 1946 onwards the private armies of the Muslim League began a massacre
of the Hindus. The then Viceroy, Lord Wavell, though distressed at what was
happening, would not use his powers under the Government of India Act of
1935 to prevent the rape, murder and arson. The Hindu blood began to flow
from Bengal to Karachi with some retaliation by the Hindus. The Interim
Government formed in September was sabotaged by its Muslim League members
right from its inception, but the more they became disloyal and treasonable
to the government of which they were a part, the greater was Gandhi's
infatuation for them. Lord Wavell had to resign as he could not bring about
a settlement and he was succeeded by Lord Mountbatten. King Log was followed
by King Stork. The Congress which had boasted of its nationalism and
socialism secretly accepted Pakistan literally at the point of the bayonet
and abjectly surrendered to Jinnah. India was vivisected and one-third of
the Indian territory became foreign land to us from August 15, 1947.
Lord Mountbatten came to be described in Congress circles as the greatest
Viceroy and Governor-General this country ever had. The official date for
handing over power was fixed for June 30, 1948, but Mountbatten with his
ruthless surgery gave us a gift of vivisected India ten months in advance.
This is what Gandhi had achieved after thirty years of undisputed
dictatorship and this is what Congress party calls 'freedom' and 'peaceful
transfer of power'. The Hindu-Muslim unity bubble was finally burst and a
theocratic state was established with the consent of Nehru and his crowd and
they have called 'freedom won by them with sacrifice' - whose sacrifice?
When top leaders of Congress, with the consent of Gandhi, divided and tore
the country - which we consider a deity of worship - my mind was filled with
One of the conditions imposed by Gandhi for his breaking of the fast unto
death related to the mosques in Delhi occupied by the Hindu refugees. But
when Hindus in Pakistan were subjected to violent attacks he did not so much
as utter a single word to protest and censure the Pakistan Government or the
Muslims concerned. How many such Mahatma's we have even today in the country
who value the support of religious lots more than the need to create a sense
of one nation.The PM still continues to divide the nation by addressing the
people and Hindu Muslim Sikh Issaye during his address from the Lal
Quila.Look how the power in Delhi is being distributed based on all kind of
consideration other than ability to built a nation. A school drop out becomes
a Cabinet Minister due his hierarchy. Gandhi was shrewd enough to know that
while undertaking a fast unto death, had he imposed for its break some
condition on the Muslims in Pakistan, there would have been found hardly any
Muslims who could have shown some grief if the fast had ended in his death.
It was for this reason that he purposely avoided imposing any condition on
the Muslims. He was fully aware of from the experience that Jinnah was not
at all perturbed or influenced by his fast and the Muslim League hardly
attached any value to the inner voice of Gandhi. Gandhi is being referred to
as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal
duty inasmuch as he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his
consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has
failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His
inner-voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which
so much is made of, all crumbled before Jinnah's iron will and proved to be
powerless. Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw I shall be
totally ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the people would be
nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more
valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I
felt that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be
proved practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed
forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined, but the nation
would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me and dub
me as devoid of any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow
the course founded on the reason which I consider to be necessary for sound
nation-building. After having fully considered the question, I took the
final decision in the matter, but I did not speak about it to anyone
whatsoever. I took courage in both my hands and I did fire the shots at
Gandhiji on 30th January 1948, on the prayer-grounds of Birla House. I do
say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had
brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. There was no
legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book and for
this reason I fired those fatal shots. I bear no ill will towards anyone
individually but I do say that I had no respect for the present government
owing to their policy which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But
at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the
presence of Gandhi.(Unfortunately his going away has made no difference)
I have to say with great regret that Prime Minister Nehru quite forgets
that his preachings and deeds are at times at variances with each other when
he talks about India as a secular state in season and out of season, because
it is significant to note that Nehru has played a leading role in the
establishment of the theocratic state of Pakistan, and his job was made
easier by Gandhi's persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims. I
now stand before the court to accept the full share of my responsibility for
what I have done and the judge would, of course, pass against me such orders
of sentence as may be considered proper. But I would like to add that I do
not desire any mercy to be shown to me, nor do I wish that anyone else
should beg for mercy on my behalf. My confidence about the moral side of my
action has not been shaken even by the criticism levelled against it on all
sides. I have no doubt that honest writers of history will weigh my act and
find the true value thereof some day in future.
Gandhi’s violent death stands in stark contrast to his own non-violent protests, especially in the form of civil disobedience. However, that he was killed in this way highlights the resentment that his beliefs and policies aroused in certain sections of Indian society, and particularly among more extreme Hindus.
Godse was tried for the murder four months later, along with eight other conspirators. In a ninety-two page written statement submitted at the trial, Godse denounced Gandhi as ‘a political and ethical impostor’ and a ‘curse for India, a force for evil’. The bitterness felt towards Gandhi by his killers stemmed from their dissatisfaction with the outcome of independence – especially with the partition of India – in which he had played such a prominent role.
Ambulance burnt at Balliguda
Destruction at Balliguda Carmel Covnent
Mother Mary’s statue at Carmel Convent
Devastating scene of a burnt house
The people dispersed out of fear sensing the trouble when they saw this armed gang coming to attack them. The miscreants started shooting people and two were critically injured. They also ransacked about fifteen shops belonging to the Christians after looting the shops and houses, and about seven members of Ambedkar Baniko Sangho were thrashed by the mob. On the second day on Christmas, 25th December, the crowd came back and destroyed the churches in Bamunigam area before entering the Christian villages and burnt their houses and properties. They also shouted slogans against the Christians and asked them to leave the place. Church and Christians were under mortal threat, but unfortunately there was no police security.
Attack on Bamunigam and Balliguda Parishes:
On 24th December at around 2.00 p.m. much larger crowd (comprising of 400 to 500 people) marched into Balliguda town parish by damaging and ransacking the church buildings. By 10.00 p.m. they attacked and burnt the church, presbytery, convent, computer room, dispensary, and 2 student hostels. The same armed mob then moved into the town and completely burnt down the church belonging to the Baptist Christians. They also attacked another church belonging to the Pentecostal Christians.
On the 25th December they were moving around menacingly threatening the priests and Christians so that they were not even able to file FIR (First Information Report) with the police. The situation continued to be desperate and there was great fear and anxiety among Christians.
A convent in Phulbani was attacked on the same day and the mob ransacked the convent by breaking the doors, and window glasses. They also damaged a new school bus. Immediately the priests and nuns in Pobingia parish were advised to move out to a safer place on 25th December. At 12.00 noon a group of Bajrangdal activists attacked the church of Pobingia parish and destroyed the church and priest’s residence in the afternoon.
All this happened with impunity — in the presence of police. More than half of 24 parishes in Kandhamal District could not celebrate Christmas mass due to the fear of attack. Two constables asked the priests of Phulbani parish to have no celebration lest there will be more troubles.
Shops belonging to Christians
St. Paul Church- BalligudaInstitutions So Far Attacked and Destroyed:Parish Church – (5)Village Churches – (48)Convents (6)Presbytery (3)Hostels (6)Other Institutions (3)Minor Seminary (Balliguda)Vocational Training Centre (Balliguda)Sarshnanda, Leprosy Centre (Pobingia)
A good number of village churches have also been destroyed of which we do not have definite information. In Barakhama parish, 400 houses are gutted, five people were killed, property looted, one tractor, one jeep and two motor cycles were burnt. The formation house of Capuchin congregation was totally vandalized.All these happened during the first three days of vandalism and arson. We are in receipt of information from various other churches and institutions that the attackers are still active and the destruction of property still continues. On the other hand the innocent Christians are apprehended and Christian officials are victimized in order to appease the fundamentalists.Preplanned attack and destruction:
Orissa has a history of communal flare-ups every now and then. However, this time it was very intensive, violent and pre-planned from all points of view.1. The speed with which attacks were carried out – This was not possible unless it was planned. Within half an hour, over two hundred people in Bamunigam parish premises and 400 to 500 people in Balliguda were attacked simultaneously, where maximum destruction took place.2. They appeared on the scene of destruction with instruments capable of causing massive destruction in a short time. For instance, they carried acid with them in order to burn things. They had guns, iron-cutting swords (machine) to cut the grills of doors and windows.3. The attackers had enough food stuff with them to prepare their meals in the area during attack. One must conclude that they had pre-planned this attack.All these events show that without pre-planning such unprecedented destruction, it is not possible to cause maximum destruction within three days.
Sr. Sujata Kujur CSST who escaped the mob on 24 Dec, 2007
Destruction at Balliguda Carmel Covnent
Destruction at Balliguda Carmel CovnentNature of their operation:
I had told my priests and spiritual leaders that they should save themselves and not to worry about the property. So, I advised them to escape to anywhere they possibly can as soon as they hear about an impending attack. Because of this the institutions were kept ‘open’ to the rioters for total destruction.• We could not rely on police force because they were very few or they were indifferent for the reasons I do not know.• Destruction took place even in the presence of police force (20 of them) in Bamunigam who were mute spectators.
The fundamentalists broke open through the main door, smashed window glasses, twisted grills and gathered all that they could and piled up in the middle of the building. They poured kerosene/petrol/acid on the heap of things and made a bonfire. The end of the show! Then they moved to another place.
Who were the attackers?
In general the armed mob of fundamentalists belonged to what is called the ‘Sangh Parivar’, professing an extremist and intolerant Hindutva ideology of hate and violence. Nevertheless, the people who perpetrated the crimes were, as a rule, from other villages to avoid recognition. Hence, after committing the crimes, they disappeared from the scenes. So, often it is difficult to identify individuals involved in acts of arson and attempted murders.
How did the Government handle the problem?
In general the Government promised us all the support and protection. The ‘Kui Samaj’ had declared two day bandh on 25th and 26th of December in order to protest against giving scheduled caste status to SC Christians. Since 25th December is a celebration of Christmas, we expected some trouble. We approached the District Magistrate and Superintendent of police about the impending troubles and they promised us all their support. To make the long story short the following is our experience.
1. The district administration had not taken any precautionary measures to prevent any troubles; consequently they were not able to control or prevent the destruction.2. When the troubles began on 24th December around 8. 00 a.m. I approached the Director General of Police (DGP) who promised us all support and protection. However, we are utterly disappointed because only after 26 hours after the first attack the force reached the places of attack in Bamunigam. Distance form Bhubaneswar to the area of trouble is 300 kilometers. From the District Head Quarters, Phulbani (Kandhamal) to the troubled area is over 85 kilometers.3. Either the deployment of the Force was insufficient or the Force did not have the power to take necessary action on the spot.4. The fundamentalists moved freely in trucks and other vehicles shouting slogans “Jai Shri Ram”, “Jai Bajrang Dal” etc. Destruction went on unabated.5. So far no one has been apprehended even though most of the attacks took place in front of the police.6. Most of the priests, pastors and religious nuns in Kandhamal District have taken shelter in the forest. In fact, the fundamentalists are in search of finding their hide-outs.7. The Christians who are already attacked and those who are in great fear of being attacked fear with sufficient reasons that they are left to the mercy of the fundamentalists.
In general, I would say that the administration miserably failed to take necessary actions to prevent such unprecedented destruction of establishments to Christian community in Kandhamal District.
A delegation met the Hon’ble Chief Minister and made the following demands:
1. That a CBI inquiry may be ordered for proper and impartial investigation for justice.2. Central Para Military Forces are deployed in adequate strength to all the affected and sensitive places to prevent any further recurrences as the local police have not been able to control the situation.3. Impartial and proper assessment of the property damage caused to various Churches, Christian institutions and other establishments may be made and adequate compensation be provided as early as possible to restore confidence of the people in the administration.4. Proper compensation is given to the deceased family and injured people.5. The culprits responsible for creating communal disharmony and caused damages to people and properties should be severely dealt with and the Govt. officials be given exemplary punishments for their gross negligence, inaction, apathy amounting to connivance with the perpetrators.6. A Fact Finding Committee consisting of various Church leaders and representatives proposed to visit various affected sites and personnel of the Kandhamal District and other affected places of the state to take stock of the situation and to console the victims and families. Therefore, we request to provide police protection to the team during their visit.
A Call For Solidarity And Support
Thousands of innocent victims who are left with no house, clothes and food have taken refuge in forests and in temporary relief camps after their houses were torched. Those who wish to extend their help in rebuilding their lives may contact:
Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Raphael Cheenath,
Several policemen were also injured in the encounter in which men of the special task force were also involved. IG V K Gupta and DIG S K Singh, who headed the operation, were among those injured. "Ghanshyam Kewat has been shot dead by the UP police," State Police Chief Vikram Singh said but did not rule out the possibility of more dacoits having helped him. He said though Kewat was has been killed in a gunbattle outside the village, the encounter has not ended as there may be more dacoits hiding at the place in Rajapur area, 120 kms from Allahabad. Singh said that the efforts of the Uttar Pradesh police has paid dividends as the dacoit was liquidated by securitymen, who adopted a three-pronged strategy to ensure no civilian casualty, minimum police casualty and minimum loss to property of civilians.
The Sikhs considered Mrs. Gandhi's actions a moral and civil outrage. Vowing revenge, a team of assassins organized inside Punjab, but they were arrested by Indian parliamentary forces. The money, guns, and clearancepapers found in their possession were allegedly provided by the Pakistani intelligence service, though the Pakistanis denied the charge. The Sikhs struck with vengeance a few days later, on Oct. 31, 1984. Gandhi was leaving her private compound at Safdarjang Road in New Delhi to meet British actor Peter Ustinov to film a television documentary when the shots rang out. Two of her uniformed security guards standing at attention along the path had suddenly broken ranks to shoot at Gandhi. From point blank range Beant Singh, twenty-one fired three shots from a.38-caliber revolver. As Gandhi slumped to the ground the other uniformed guard, Satwant Singh, pumped thirty rounds from a Sten automatic weapon into her. The two Sikhs surrendered to police and were led to the guardhouse. Beant Singh, who was a favorite of Gandhi during the five months he had been assigned to the detail, attempted to seize a gun from one of the other guards and was shot dead. Satwant Singh was wounded when he reached for a knife concealed in his turban. Gandhi's death plunged India into deep turmoil. Confrontations between angry Hindus and separatist Sikhs resulted in wide scale arson, looting, and murder. The funeral procession through the streets of New Delhi was a quiet, somber affair.
Many residents chose to remain at home because they feared violence along the parade route. Gandhi's 40-year-old son, Rajiv, assumed control of the government and urged moderation, but his pleas were largely ignored. The government opened an investigation into the murder, and concluded that Gandhi's death was part of a larger conspiracy to undermine the Indian government. On Jan. 5, 1989, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, a former government worker who plotted the assassination, were hanged at Tihar Central Jail in New Delhi after their pleas for clemency were denied by the Indian Supreme Court. A third conspirator, Balbir Singh, had been convicted in 1986, but was ordered released by the Supreme Court four months before the executions were scheduled to take place. The deaths of the two Sikhs resulted in a new wave of violence in Punjab. Four Hindus from the village of Bhujiawali were hanged in retaliation on Jan. 11. Thirty-six other people were killed in the outbreak. Meanwhile the Indian government pressed on with its investigation of the assassination.
On Apr. 7, 1989, four more conspirators were identified and charged with the murder of Indira Gandhi. Former police official Simranjit Singh Mann was quoted as saying that the easiest and most efficient way to kill her was to infiltrate the vast security network. Mann is the leader of the Akali Dal party, a militant political faction within the Sikh movement. The two triggermen were selected by a second Sikh extremist, Atinder Pal Singh of the Khalistan Liberation Army operating in Punjab. Indian police arrested two Bombay College teachers, Dilip Singh and Jagmohan Singh Tony, as co -conspirators. Their cases are still pending. In assessing the murder of Gandhi, the commission pointed to the lax and inefficient Indian internal security division, which prevented the removal of the policeman who eventually committed the murder. A larger conspiracy involving highly placed government officials was implied in an official report released on Mar. 27, 1989. "Top officials took things for granted and allowed the matters to drift," explained Justice M.P. Thakkar, head of the investigating commission. "Officials were apathetic, shirked responsibility, and indulged in red-tapism."
Rajiv Gandhi, the 46-year-old former Indian prime minister, has been assassinated.
He was campaigning for the Congress Party on the second day of voting in the world's largest democratic election when a powerful bomb, hidden in a basket of flowers, exploded killing him instantly.
At least 14 other people were also killed in the attack in the town of Sriperumbudur, about 30 miles from Madras, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
No-one has admitted carrying out the murder but it is being blamed on Mr Gandhi's arch enemies, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a violent guerrilla group fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka.
End of a dynasty
Rajiv Gandhi's death has shocked the world and marks the end of the Nehru dynasty that had led India for all but five years since independence from Britain.
After his brother Sanjay was killed in an air crash in 1980, he gave up his job as an airline pilot and was elected to Sanjay's parliamentary seat.
He became prime minister after his mother, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards in 1984.
Often seen as a reluctant leader, he and his Congress Party won a record majority later that year.
He encouraged foreign investment, a freer economy and rejuvenated his own party, ridding it of his mother's unelected cronies.
After he lost the election in 1989, Rajiv Gandhi resigned.
This time, the Congress Party was expected to win the largest number of parliamentary seats - but not overall control - against the Hindu BJP Party and the Janata Dal, now split into two parties.
The campaign has been marred by sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims in what has proved to be the most violent election in Indian history. Two hundred people have already been killed.
It later emerged that a female Tamil Tiger (LTTE) suicide bomber had assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.
In 1987 Mr Gandhi, then prime minister, had sent Indian peacekeeping forces to Sri Lanka in a disastrous attempt to impose peace in the country. The move proved unpopular both at home and abroad and his troops pulled out in 1990.
A year after Mr Gandhi's death, the Tamil Tigers were outlawed in India.
PV Narasimha Rao, succeeded Gandhi as Congress leader and became India's prime minister later that year.
After a number of bribery scandals, the party was heavily defeated in the 1996 elections. But its popularity was revived in 1998 by Mr Gandhi's Italian-born widow Sonia who took over as leader and returned the party to power in the 2004 elections.
She refused to become prime minister herself, however, and the job went to former finance minister Manmohan Singh.
The 2001 Gujarat Earthquake took place on the 26th January when the Republic Day celebration was going on. It was reported that around 19,727 people were killed and more than 166,000 thousand people were injured. Beside these, the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake rendered 600,00 people homeless, with 348,000 houses destroyed and nearly 844,000 houses damaged.
Talking about other resources, about 20,000 cattle were killed. It was estimated that the government had to bear a loss of about 1.3 billion dollars; other losses indicate losses as high as 5 billion dollars.
The 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, as the reports say, was an intra-plate earthquake which took place due to the collision of the tectonics plates. The worst effected areas of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake were:
The news of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake spread like bonfire. The some immediate steps were taken by the Gujarat Government, like:
the Cabinet Secretary activated Crisis Management Group to move men, relief materials and other necessary stuffs to the most affected areas.
The adjoining states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra were asked to contribute towards the cause of 2001 Gujarat Earthquake.
Hindusthan Zinc Limited, Udaipur, IFFCO and KRIBHCO were also asked to provide to the victims.
National Disaster Management was activated.
Cabinet Secretary was asked to respond to the emergency.
Home Minister organized for the medical help.
Prime Minister released Rupees 500 crores for the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake.
Indian Air force helped in reaching the food, clothing and medicines to the worst effected areas.
Although the calamity was a tremendous blow, yet the people of Gujarat showed enormous courage in pulling their state up and making a new beginning.
In a major terror strike, 42 persons were killed and about 50 injured in two powerful near-simultaneous blasts at a crowded park and a popular eating joint in Hyderabad on Saturday evening.
Thirty-two people died when an explosion ripped through Gokul Chat Shop at Kothi locality at around 7.50 pm, Andhra Pradesh Home Minister K Jana Reddy told reporters in Hyderabad. Around 21 persons were wounded in this blast.
In another blast five minutes earlier at the Lumbini amusement park five km away, 10 people perished in a blast when a laser show was on, he said. The amusement park is situated near the state secretariat in the heart of the city.
Jana Reddy said about 500 people were in the auditorium at the time of the incident.
The blast ripped through the middle row of the auditorium when the show had just begun.
So powerful was the blast that some of bodies were flung into the air and scattered over the area.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh said the toll at Lumbini Park, overlooking the picturesque Hussain Sagar lake, may go up as it was teeming with week-end crowd.
Reddy said that "according to preliminary reports, it was a terrorist act."
A senior police official said the explosives used in the twin blasts on Satuday were similar to the one used by terrorists in the Mecca Masjid blasts in May 2006.
The police cordoned off the areas and sounded a red alert across Hyderabad and conducted searches at railway stations and bus depots.
Security in Hyderabad city has been tightened further in view of 10,000 weddings that are scheduled on Sunday.
The dead and injured were ferried to Osmania Hospital, Medicity and Yashoda hospital.
Gory scenes were witnessed at the Lumbini Park auditorium with limbs, blood, clothes and shoes of the people watching the laser show strewn around.
Explosive experts visited the sites and collected samples of the materials used in the blast.
After visiting the blast sites, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy told reporters that "it is definitely a terrorist act. It has claimed 30 lives. We are going into details."
He said the government would see to it that efforts were taken to restore peace.
Rajasekhar Reddy appealed to the people to maintain calm and not spread rumours.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] expressed deep concern over the blasts and the Union Home Ministry said it was monitoring the situation in Hyderabad.
Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said the blasts were the handiwork of some terrorist group.
"One terrorist group or the other, which is bent on destroying the unity of the country, is certainly involved in the blasts in Hyderabad," he said.
Rajasekhar Reddy reviewed the situation with Director-General of Police M A Basith and other top officials.
In another blow to the Modi Government's official account of the Godhra train incident, an independent panel of engineers probing the technical aspects of the tragedy has concluded that it is "highly unlikely" that the fire which engulfed coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express on February 28, 2002, "could have started on the floor of the passage or the floor outside the toilets by throwing of flammable liquid."
The findings of the report — prepared by a multi-disciplinary group of experts on the basis of a scientific review of the physical evidence, testimony and medical records of the victims — broadly support those of the Justice U.C. Banerjee committee, whose interim report on Godhra was handed over to the Railway Board today.
The Gujarat police, however, will draw little comfort from the report as it undermines their claim that the fire was started by miscreants forcibly entering S-6 and pouring petrol on the floor.
Burn patterns studied
A key part of the Godhra puzzle, the engineers say, can be resolved when the burn patterns on coach S-6 are compared with those on a number of rail coaches that have caught fire recently. In particular, they found a striking similarity between the damage sustained by S-6 and coach 16526, which caught fire accidentally at a railway siding in Jagadhri near Delhi in November 2003. It is possible, they conclude, that the fire originated from luggage below the seat, and started by burning the lower berth first. "The resultant dense and high temperature smoke spread to the top of the carriage and then moved along the ceiling and between the ceiling and the roof through the length of the coach. The radiative and convective heat generated eventually resulted in a flash over which the fire engulfed the entire coach towards the top."
The engineers involved in the study, conducted under the aegis of the Hazards Centre, include A.K. Roy, a chemical engineer with expertise in hazards and safety, Prof. Dinesh Mohan, a Delhi IIT biomedical engineer with expertise in human tolerance to injuries, Prof. Sunil Kale, a mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi with expertise in thermodynamics and fluidisation, and S.N. Chakravarty, a mechanical engineer with more than 10 years experience in the coaching section of the Railways.
Fifty-eight passengers, many of them activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, died in the tragedy, which the Gujarat Government and police say was the result of a pre-planned conspiracy involving dozens of people. At present, more than 100 individuals from Godhra have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and charged with involvement in the case.
Source of fire
The engineers' report observes that the most flammable material in a railway coach is the latex foam in the seats. Though the foam is protected by a plywood base and vinyl cover, "these materials can be set on fire by cigarettes, matchsticks or lighters that are still burning. If there is any cooking equipment with fuel stored below the seat, this can worsen matters." While a burning rag thrown by the mob outside could have been an ignition source, it "would have to first penetrate between the bars on the window before landing on people and luggage to initiate a fire."
If the fire had indeed started on the floor near the toilets, as the Gujarat police claims, "inflammable plywood and foam in three tiers of seats would not be available for the fire to burn in this area." And if the fire was started by an inflammable fluid on the floor, "the flames would have been noticed right away in a very crowded carriage, precluding the possibility of a long smouldering source."
Stating that the most probable origin point for the fire was in the region between the last two cabins, the engineers say, "The initiation is unlikely to have been noticed until the dense asphyxiating smoke emerged from the burning latex foam." Passengers in cabins 8 and 9 would have tried to escape from the exits near seat 72 while passengers in the other cabins would have run in the opposite direction, towards seat 1. Given the overcrowding, "150 or more people must have gathered trying to escape, and been subjected to dense and toxic fumes emanating from the roof and upper levels," leading to many passengers asphyxiating or falling unconscious and being burnt by the fire.
The report attacks the slipshod manner in which the testimony of passengers and vital forensic material was gathered by the investigating agencies. Calling for computer and experimental simulations to conclusively understand the process of accidental combustion inside railway coaches, the experts say that serious thought needs to be given to the design of doors and exits and emergency escape routes.