Wednesday, May 21, 2014

India remembers Rajiv Gandhi

India commemorates its former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the country’s Anti-Terrorism Day, just days after the Congress Party was routed in the general elections.

Rajiv Gandhi, the son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomber at an election rally at Sri Perumbudur, a village close to Chennai in Tamil Nadu, on May 21, 1991. He was 46.

Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India on October 31, 1984, when his mother was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards in Delhi. He called for snap elections and achieved the best Lok Sabha majority in Indian history in December that year when the Congress Party won 414 of the seats.

Rajiv Gandhi was engulfed in several controversies which undermined his administration. These included the anti-Sikh riots, Indian involvement in Sri Lanka and the Bofors scandal. The Congress Party lost its majority in the 1989 election despite ending up as the largest single party in the Lok Sabha.

The Indian Supreme Court judgment found that the killing was carried out due to personal animosity of the LTTE chief Prabhakaran towards Gandhi arising out of his sending the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka and the alleged IPKF atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils.

On 18 February 2014, the Supreme Court of India commuted the death sentence of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan who had been convicted of the assassination, to life imprisonment. The following day, Tamil Nadu government decided to release all seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Union of India challenged this decision before the Supreme Court.

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