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Indians relive Indira’s last moments
NEW DELHI, OCT 31 (IANS):
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Published on 31 Oct. 2009 11:03 PM IST
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Indira Gandhi continues to draw crowds 25 years after her death. People travelled all the way from West Bengal, Karnataka and other parts of India and queued up early Saturday at her memorial here to relive the memories and last moments of the country’s ‘Iron Lady’. Amiya Das, who came from Kolkata, was among the long line of visitors in front of the museum at 1, Safdarjung Road. But she made her disappointment clear when refused entry into the memorial early morning as a galaxy of VIPs, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Priyanka and Rahul were paying their tributes, making tight security mandatory. “But I have come all the way from Kolkata. I timed my visit this way so that I could actually relive that moment when Indira Gandhi was gone, at the place where it all happened,” Das pleaded in broken Hindi. The guard at the memorial was not moved and Das had to wait along with a number of visitors who had come to the museum with the same aim. “I have come to Delhi for the first time and amongst all the places that I wanted to visit, Indira Gandhi’s memorial was one of the them. When she was assassinated in 1984, I was just 15 and was completely shattered. She was such a charismatic leader, someone I looked up to,” Rajashree Raju from Karnataka, who was also waiting at the museum, told IANS. “Today I have come here with my own daughter and want to relive Indira-ji’s memories amongst the bits and pieces of her belongings. I always tell my daughter that girls should aim to be like Indira-ji,” she added. According to a caretaker of the museum, over 5,000 people visit the museum on any given weekday. “A number of people did not know that the museum will be closed for visitors until about 10.30-11 a.m. So they came and then returned disappointed thinking that it is closed today. Still, we are expecting a large number of visitors today,” said Hari Das, the caretaker. Once the museum gates were thrown open on Gandhi’s 25th death anniversary, people streamed in. Before that, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, besides a number of other leaders, paid their tribute to the former prime minister at the museum that was once her home. But Priyanka remained inside the museum long after her mother, brother and the other leaders had left. “She was just offering flowers and sitting quietly inside her grandmother’s museum,” said an official of the museum. Looking elegant in a blue, printed sari, Priyanka walked out minutes later even as curious onlookers put up their camera phones to take her picture. Walking along with her was noted lyricist Javed Akhtar who had also come to the museum. “She (Priyanka) looks just like her grandmother. I hope she becomes our prime minister some day,” observed Shalu Jain, a homemaker who had come to visit the museum with her two children. Caretaker Hari Das said it wasn’t unusual to see people breaking down and crying inconsolably when they saw Indira Gandhi’s bloodstains, preserved behind the crystal pathway where she was shot. Rajiv Bhatia, a 60-year-old visitor, said: “I have been to this place a number of times and everytime I see the blood stains my eyes well up. India needs leaders like Indira today”. Known as ‘Iron Lady’, Indira Gandhi ruled the country for 15 years in two stints before being assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. The assassination on Oct 31, 1984 triggered massive anti-Sikh riots in which 3,000 people were killed in three days in the national capital.

 
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