|“||I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow. I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say, that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it. Even if I died in the service of the nation, I would be proud of it. Every drop of my blood will contribute to the growth of this nation and to make it strong and dynamic.||„|
|~ Indira Gandhi's final speech the day before her death.|
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (19 November 1917 - 31 October 1984) was an Indian politician, the third prime minister of India and, to date, India's only female prime minister. After her father Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi was the second longest-serving prime minister of India. Despite Gandhi's popularity, which endures even to this day, she was also responsible for many atrocities, mostly against the Sikh population of India, which ultimately lead to her assassination by a Sikh suicide bomber in 1984.
1975 State of Emergency
In June 1975, an Indian court declared that Indira Gandhi's election was void due to electoral malpractice, a ruling which was confirmed by the Indian High Court. However, Gandhi refused to resign despite the High Court's ruling, resulting in civil unrest. In order to combat this, Gandhi persuaded the president to declare a State of Emergency, allowing her virtually limitless power. During the Emergency, many opponents of Gandhi were arrested, tortured and imprisoned, and the press was heavily censored to prevent them from criticising Gandhi's borderline draconian measures. Gandhi also cancelled all elections during the Emergency, and Gandhi, her son and Rukhsana Sultana implemented a forced sterilisation program to limit population growth during which many men were abducted and forcefully sterilized, with some even dying or becoming disabled from the resultant infections. The Emergency also saw Indira Gandhi's government begin the destruction of slums and the eviction of low-income families. When the State of Emergency ended in 1977, Gandhi was voted out of office, but was later re-elected in 1980.
Persecution of Sikhs
Gandhi is also controversial for the tactics she used to combat Sikh insurgents, which included torture and extrajudicial imprisonment, and have been characterized as genocidal by many observers, both contemporary and modern.
In June 1984, Sikh militants lead by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale seized control of the Golden Temple complex, and began conducting terror attacks and assassinations nearby. After futile negotiations, Gandhi ordered the military to seize control of the Golden Temple and remove Bhindranwale and his followers. During the offensive, Bhindranwale and many of his followers died, however the military also killed many civilians and Gandhi was accused of using the operation to motivate the Indian population to vote for her in the next election (although this would ultimately be rendered futile, as Gandhi was assassinated during the election).
In the aftermath of Operation Blue Star, Gandhi launched Operation Woodrose to "prevent the outbreak of widespread public protest" in the state of Punjab. During Operation Woodrose, the Akali Dal, the largest Sikh political party, was outlawed and its members imprisoned, and the All Indian Sikh Student Union was forcibly disbanded. In addition, the Indian Army conducted operations in the countryside during which thousands of Sikhs, overwhelmingly young men, were detained for interrogation and subsequently tortured. Despite its purported success in controlling the armed insurgency in the Punjab region, the operation was criticized by human-rights groups for the suspension of civil liberties, resulting in the disappearances of thousands of Sikh men. After the operation, the central government was criticized for using "draconian legislation" to repress a minority community.
Alleged support of LTTE
India under Gandhi was alleged to have supported the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants in the 1980s to put pressure on Jayewardene to abide by Indian interests.