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Parliament Disrupted By Secret Inquiry Into Gandhi Assassination

March 15, 1989

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Opposition legislators forced Parliament to adjourn Tuesday after a newspaper gave its account of a secret inquiry into the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The report in the Indian Express newspaper said the investigation cast suspicion on Rajendra Kumar Dhawan, Mrs. Gandhi’s personal secretary when she was shot Oct. 31, 1984, in the garden of her New Delhi residence by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

Dhawan, 52, did not continue in that job after Mrs. Gandhi’s son, Rajiv Gandhi, took over as prime minister, but he was appointed last month as an officer on special duty in the powerful Cabinet Secretariat.

Speaker Balram Jakhar adjourned the session of the People’s House - lower house of Parliament - when opposition members demanded the secret report be made public.

Jakhar called their actions ″shameful″ and adjourned the sessions after about two hours of heated argments between the opposition and deputies of the governing Congress Party.

The government said the report was kept secret in the interest of national security.

The Indian Express, headquartered in Bombay, is the country’s largest English-language newspaper with a circulation of 1.1 million and frequently criticizes Rajiv Gandhi and his administration.

It gave this account of the secret report under a front-page headline ″What has been withheld from all:″

-The inquiry by Supreme Court Justice M.P. Thakkar showed that ″consciously or unconsciously Dhawan may have facilitated the commission of the crime.″

-Thakkar claimed Dhawan lied during questioning and gave unconvincing explanations about suspicious entries in his diary, which included the name of one of the assassins.

-Dhawan altered the time of Mrs. Gandhi’s appointment with a television crew on the morning of the assassination. The prime minister was killed when walking from her residence to her office next door for the television interview.

-Dhawan, who was walking with Mrs. Gandhi, fell back ″in the nick of time as they were approaching the scene of the assassination.″

-Dhawan knew Beant Singh, one of the killers who was slain by other bodyguards minutes after the assassination, but he denied that during questioning.

A second guard convicted of the assassination and a third Sikh found guilty of conspiracy were executed.

The government reported Mrs. Gandhi was killed in revenge for an army raid she ordered in June 1984 on the Golden Temple, the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

At least 1,200 people, most of them Sikhs, were killed in the raid on the temple in Amritsar. The government said Sikh militants had turned the temple complex into a hideout for terrorists.

Sikh activists have been fighting since 1982 for an independent homeland in the northern state of Punjab. They accuse Hindus of discrimination.

Sikhs form only 2 percent of India’s population of 880 million but they are in a majority in Punjab. Hindus comprise 80 percent of the nation’s population.

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