It was just another day at the office for Narayan Singh, a sturdy Delhi Police head constable. Posted at 1, Safdarjung Road, his duty began at 6 am on 31 October 1984. Singh was among other colleagues who were part of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s personal security since 1980.
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Usual Day at Tughlaq Road Police Station
With autumn giving way to an early winter in 1984, some policemen from the 1941-vintage Tughlaq Road police station in Lutyens Delhi sipped tea. Station House Officer Rajindra Prasad was engaged in a banter with his deputy, JS Joon.
As on any other day, they met at 8 in the morning. They had nothing special to deal with, except ensuring the convoy of Britain’s Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, reaches the Prime Minister’s residence safely. Princess Anne was to have dinner with Mrs Gandhi.
Following a brief discussion, the two veteran cops emerged out of the room. They did not see much traffic on the road – India was still a couple of years from the auto revolution and traffic snarls. Neither Narayan Singh nor his colleagues at the Tughlaq Road police station had any inkling of what was in store for them.
As Prasad was about to leave the police station for this daily round of Tees January Marg, Khan Market, and Aurangzeb Road, his walkie-talkie crackled to life. PM Indira Gandhi had been shot in her house.
Prasad stood stunned. He soon found himself trembling. But it did not take long for the cops at the Tughlaq Road police station to get cracking.
Ravi Pawar, a bright Indian Information Service Officer, who served as spokesperson for Delhi Police for 23 years, said:
As there were no mobile phones then, the police were dependent on wireless sets.
With a small team of policemen, Prasad dashed to the PM’s house under the jurisdiction of the police station.
How the FIR Was Filed
Within the precincts of the PM house, head constable Narayan Singh had witnessed the shooting that had felled Mrs Gandhi.
Of the more than 400 officers and men drawn from various organisations who were part of Mrs Gandhi’s security at 1, Safdarjung Road, two had turned her assassins.
The first case registered after Mrs Gandhi fell to her bodyguards Beant Singh and Satwant Singh’s bullets was that of ‘attempt to murder.’ It was later that the FIR was converted to a murder case.
Around 9:10 am, Mrs Gandhi, along with RK Dhawan, came out and started walking towards 1, Akbar Road to meet an Irish delegation. I started walking with her. Apart from us, Nathuram, personal attendant to the prime minister, was presentNarayan Singh’s statement, Head Constable, 1 Safdarjang Road
Singh had given his statement to Prasad at AIIMS, where Gandhi was rushed after being shot at.
Nabbing the Killers
Narayan Singh told the police that injured by the bullets, Mrs Gandhi fell on the ground. Assistant Sub-Inspector Rameshwar Dayal was injured in the firing.
Beant and Satwant were apprehended by BK Bhatt, Assistant Commissioner of Police and personal security officer, some ITBP personnel, and me. After shooting Mrs Gandhi, the two assassins dropped their weapons.Narayan Singh
The assassination was witnessed by DK Bhatt, RK Dhawan, Nathuram, Lawang Sherpa (storeman), Sub-Inspector Ramjee Lal, and Rameshwar Dayal. And after serving Delhi Police for around 37 years, Narayan Singh retired in 2010 and moved back to his native place. Prasad and Joon retired in 1999 and 2008, respectively.
Two Gandhis and Tughlaq Road Police Station
While Mrs Gandhi’s FIR was written in Hindi, the FIR of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s murder was written in Urdu at the Tughlaq Road police station in 1948. While winter was setting in on 31 October 1984 in Delhi, it was shivering cold on 30 January 1948.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaswant Singh of Parliament police station and Dasondha Singh, Station House Officer of Tughlaq Road police station, were right at the gate of Birla House when Nathuram Godse shot Bapu.
Since Tughlaq Road police station was part of Parliament police station then, both Jaswant Singh and Dasondha Singh were on their way to Birla House to see for themselves that all was well there, according to the former’s grandson, Sanjeev Choudhry. Though Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination took place at 5:17 pm, the FIR was written at 9:45 pm, based on the eyewitness account of one Nand Lal Mehta.
Mehta was a Gujarati gentleman and would visit Birla House every day to hear Gandhiji’s sermons. He was a resident of M-56 Connaught Place. Mehta passed away in the early ‘70s and his family left their Connaught Place residence in 1978.
Jaswant Singh’s grandchildren still live at Vivek Vihar in East Delhi. Jaswant Singh was a Punjab Police officer on a two-year deputation with Delhi Police when Bapu was shot. It is said that Dasondha Singh’s family migrated to Canada a long time ago.
Inside Tughlaq Road police station, the photographs of Gandhi ji and Mrs Gandhi give you company.
(The writer is former Editor, Somaiya Publications. He can be reached @VivekShukla108. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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