NEW DELHI, Reuter — Following is a chronology of events leading up to Friday’s execution of two Sikhs for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984:


August — the Akhali Dal, main Sikh political party, launches campaign for religious and political concessions including greater autonomy for Punjab.

October 6 — direct rule from New Delhi imposed on Punjab. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Congress (1) Party state government dissolved after clashes between Sikh Freedom Fighters and police.


June 5 — armed Sikhs in Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the Sikh religion’s holiest shrine, exchange mortar and machinegun fire with army. More than 200 people sheltering inside the temple, including Akali leader Harchand Singh Longowal, surrender.

June 6 — Army attacks Golden Temple and 38 other Sikh shrines in Punjab, more than 6,000 people die.

October 31 — Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assassinated at her home by two Sikh bodyguards. One, Beant Singh, is shot dead later during “questioning.” The other, Satwant Singh, is seriously wounded but survives. Rajiv Gandhi sworn in as Prime Minister.

November 13 — more than 10,000 people die in nationwide antiSikh riots, worst in Delhi, where tanks move into the streets. Indira Gandhi cremated.

November 30 — Kehar

Singh, Beant Singh’s uncle, arrested and charged with conspiracy in the assassination.

December 3 — another bodyguard, inspector Balbir Singh, charged with conspiracy.

1985May 1011 — boobytrap bombs kill 86 people in and around Delhi.

May 13 — trial begins of Satwant, Kehar and Balbir Singh.

July 24 — Gandhi and Longowal sign peace accord conceding many Sikh demands. Hardliners call it a sellout.

August 17 — Gandhi announces Punjab state elections.

August 20 — Longowal shot dead in Punjab town Sangrur during rally.

September 25 — Akali Dal wins state elections with massive majority. Surjit Singh Barnala becomes chief minister.


January 22 — All three defendants in Indira Gandhi murder trial found guilty and sentenced to death. All appeal.

August 10 — four gunmen in Poona kill General Arun Vaidya, Army Chief of Staff during the 1984 Golden Temple assault.

October 2 — Rajiv Gandhi survives attempt on his life by a Sikh in New Delhi at spot where Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, was cremated after he was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic on January 30, 1948.

December 3 — death sentences on Gandhi killers confirmed by Delhi High Court. All appeal to Supreme Court.


May 11 — Gandhi dismisses Barnala’s government in Punjab and imposes direct rule from New Delhi. December 31 — political killings in Punjab during 1987 total 1,200.


March 30 — Constitution changed to allow emergency rule in Punjab if situation demands.

August 3 — Supreme Court allows Balbir Singh’s appeal and frees him, saying case not proved.

October 12 — execution warrants served on Satwant and Kehar Singh but no date set.

October 18 — Supreme Court grants stay of execution pending hearing of countercharges by defendants.

October 31 — President Ramaswamy Venkataraman refuses to hear Kehar Singh’s lawyers’ pleas for mercy.

November December — Supreme Court grants further stays.

December 16 — Supreme Court directs president to reconsider mercy plea with wider brief.

December 31 — political killings in Punjab during 1988 total 2,500.


January 2 — President again turns down mercy plea. Fresh death warrants issued.

January 4 — courts dismiss final appeals. Executions set for January 6.

January 5 — Supreme Court turns down last-minute petitions for further stay.

January 6 — Kehar and Satwant Singh hanged in Delhi’s Tihar jail at 8 a.m.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 20, 1989