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India since independence

Indian Nationalism and the Gandhi murders

Nationalist assassinated three important leaders in post-independent India by the surname Gandhi. The first was Mahatma Gandhi who was assassinated in 1948. The second was Indira Gandhi (no family relations to Mahatma Gandhi) who was assassinated in 1984. And the third was her son, Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. Of the three Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated because of Indian nationalism, the other two were assassinated because of regional nationalism.

During India's independence period there were organizations in India who wanted to establish on the whole of British India a Hindu state. These organizations opposed to the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. After the partition of India these organizations blamed the Indian National Congress and especially its spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi as responsible for the partition. They saw in Gandhi a traitor. Mahatma Gandhi also took some steps that made him in the minds of Hindu nationalists, pro-Muslim and Pakistan. Because of these reasons a group of Hindu nationalist assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.

Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India in the early 1980s. During her term, there was a demand by the Sikhs for an independent Sikh state in Punjab. These demanders used terror to pressure the Indian government and the leaders of this group found refuge in the holiest Sikh shrine, 'Golden Temple' in Amritsar. These leaders believed that the Indian government would not dare send an army to a holiest place of Sikhs, because of the social consequences this might cause and also because many Indian soldiers belong religiously to the Sikh religion. But Indira Gandhi dare send the army to the holiest Sikh shrine and caused lot of death and destruction, which she ordered soon to rebuild. A few months later in 1984 her Sikh bodyguards shoot her to death.

Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as India's Prime Minister right after his mother's assassination. His assassination was connected to the problems which existed in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the Tamils who emigrated from India to Sri Lanka demanded a separate Tamil state in north Sri Lanka. In this warfare between the two sides, Rajiv Gandhi was pressured by Tamilians in India and outside India to intervene. Rajiv Gandhi suggested diplomatic help to the Sri Lankan government, but they refused it, and so Rajiv sent the Indian navy to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans who did not have big navy like India agreed to the Indian army to negotiate with the Tamil rebellions in Sri Lanka. The Tamils at first accepted the Indian army with open hands, but slowly a warfare began between the Indian army and the Tamil rebellions in which many Tamilis died. In 1991 during an election campaign, Rajiv Gandhi, then in opposition, arrived in Tamil Nadu. In one of his rallies a suicide bomber exploded near him and killed him.


Aharon Daniel

1999-2000

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