New Delhi — Police officials ruled out a foreign conspiracy Monday in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by formally accusing four Sikhs of hatching the plot after being inspired by the flight of a hawk.
A 20 page charge sheet signed by Deputy Police Commissioner Des Raj Gakhar said the plan was set in motion by the chance flight of a hawk to Gandhi’s residence last September that the conspirators took as a good omen.
The document, which contained the most detailed report on the assassination yet issued by investigators, was filed with Magistrate S. L. Khanna. It said the conspirators completed their plan only a day before the slaying.
Gandhi was shot to death by two Sikh bodyguards as she walked from her home last Oct. 31. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was sworn in as Prime Minister Hours later.
Militant members of the Sikh religion had called for Gandhi’s ouster for ordering the army to invade the religion’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, June 6 to evict militants fighting for an autonomous homeland in the northern state of Punjab.
More than 400 people, most of them Sikhs, were killed in the two-day battle.
The charge sheet named as the triggermen Gandhi two Sikh bodyguards, policeman Satwant Singh and police inspector Beant Singh. It said they used subterfuge to place themselves in a position to kill the 66yearold Prime Minister.
Beant Singh switched with another guard for the morning shift and Satwant Singh placed himself at the sentry booth near a toilet by ‘“‘mispresenting that he was suffering from dysentery,” the report said.
At 9:10 a.m. on Oct. 31, Beant Singh opened fire on Gandhi with his .38caliber revolver. Seconds later Satwant Singh pumped 25 shots into the Prime Minister from his automatic carbine, the report said.
The report said both killers then threw down their weapons. Beant Singh was shot to death by police shooters later and Satwant Singh survived numerous gunshot wounds.
Gandhi, grievously injured, was taken to the All India Medical Institute where the cause of death was listed as hemorrhage and shock due to multiple bullet wounds, it said.
Singled out as the main conspirator was Balbir Singh, a police inspector. A Sikh government employee, Kehar Singh, was also accused in the conspiracy.
The charge sheet, filed only two days before the arrested suspects would have to be set free if not formally accused, listed charges of murder and conspiracy against the four.
The document asked the three survivors “please be summoned and tried according to law.”
The report made no mention of a foreign role in the crime. After the assassination the Soviet Union accused the United States of involvement.
The report said the hawk, a good luck omen for Sikhs, nested in a tree near the main reception area of the prime minister’s house in early September and was spotted by Balbir Singh, the report said.
He called Beant Singh and pointed out the bird. “Both of them agreed that it had brought the message of the 10th Guru of the Sikhs and that they should do something by way of revenge of the “Blue Star Operation,” the code name of the army assault on the Golden Temple.
Both men then took vows at a Sikh temple to kill Gandhi, the report said.
Kehar Singh, uncle of Beant Singh, allegedly made his nephew and Satwant Singh take further pledges at the Golden Temple and New Delhi shrines to kill Gandhi.
Kehar Singh was an assistant in the federal office of General Supply and Distribution in New Delhi, which supervises distribution of such commodities as food and cement in the capital.