Fabricated Story Shared To Claim Rajiv Gandhi's SPG Killed a Beggar at Rajghat
The video showed the failed assassination attempt on former PM Rajiv Gandhi by Karamjit Singh.
A two-minute long video by news agency Associated Press showing former Prime Minister (PM) Rajiv Gandhi at the Rajghat is being shared on social media with a misleading claim. It states that when Gandhi had gone to Rajghat, the memorial of MK Gandhi, the PM's Special Protection Group (SPG) had opened fire on one person, who later turned out to be a beggar.
The video is being shared in the backdrop of PM Narendra Modi's 'security breach' incident in Punjab on 5 January, when his convoy was stranded on a flyover for about 15-20 minutes due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur, following which he cancelled all events and returned.
However, we found that the story shared along with the AP video was a fabricated one. The video showed an assassination attempt on Rajiv Gandhi on 2 October 1986. Six people were wounded in the incident, but no one was killed.
The accused identified as Karamjit Singh was charged with attempt to murder and sentenced to prison for 14 years and later freed in 2000.
The video is being shared with a story in Hindi that read, "When Rajiv Gandhi was the PM, he had gone to Rajghat for a prayer meet. At that time, the PM's SPG noticed some movement in the bushes, and took position, and sprayed bullets on him.
"Later, it was found that he was an intellectually-challenged man who was living on the streets and used to sleep at Rajghat.
"And quite shamelessly, Gandhi says he has no fear.
"After the PM Modi's security lapse incident, Congress leaders are now asking if anyone had pelted stones at the PM or shot at the PM, whereas during the former Congress PM tenure, they had killed an innocent man.
After this incident, the then minister of internal security Arun Nehru, who was also Gandhi's cousin was removed from his position."
We also received the claim as a query on our WhatsApp tipline.
WHAT WE FOUND
We looked at the YouTube channel of AP Archives and searched on their channel using relevant keywords.
We found the original 1:57-minute video that is being shared on social media with the viral claim. The title of the AP Archive video published on 4 October 2018 read, "Rajiv Gandhi is shot at during anniversary celebration for the late Mahatma Gandhi."
The description read that on 2 October 1986 in Delhi, a Sikh man hiding in a gazebo had fired upon Gandhi, who was not injured. The culprit was later arrested.
Using relevant keywords, we also looked for news reports about the incident and found multiple news reports about it.
One report by The Washington Post published on 3 October 1986 read that the lone gunman had "fired shotgun-type pellets, using a crudely made pistol, from a hiding place atop thick bushes about 70 yards from the prime minister." Six persons were slightly wounded in the assassination attempt, it added.
According to an NYT report published on 5 October 1986, the gunman "identified as Karamjit Singh, had no links with extremist organizations but was a Sikh seeking revenge for the death of a friend in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi."
Further, in a story by India Today that was published in the magazine (Issue Date: 31 October 1986) that we found on the news website, we found pictures of the day, including one where Karamjit surrenders.
A report by IANS on 30 March 2009 read that after a trial for attempt to murder, Singh was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was freed only in May 2000.
We also looked for more videos from the day and searched with relevant keywords on YouTube. We found one video of an interview of convict Karamjit Singh on the YouTube channel of Living India News, a news channel.
In the video, Singh explains how he had planned to assassinate the PM and had prepared for it for over a year, tracking all his movements.
Clearly, a video of the the assassination bid of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is being shared along with a fabricated story with misleading claims.
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