Indira Gandhi assassination case and The Tribune

A middle in The Tribune by Dr. K K Paul, who later retired as Commissioner of Delhi Police, stated that he was the senior-most police officer in uniform to reach the official residence of the Prime Minister where the assassination of Indira Gandhi had taken place. Subsequently, Dr. Paul, till then Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), was nominated Deputy to Mr. Anand Ram of the Special Investigation Team that handled the PM assassination case.

It was in this context that my meeting with Dr. Paul remains fresh in my mind even after 37 years.

Since as a crime reporter, I was assigned to cover the Chandigarh angle of the infamous case, I had done a couple of stories about Sub Inspector Beant Singh on how he got motivated to kill the Prime Minister he was mandated to protect.

One of these stories – Profile of an Assassin – that appeared as the main article in all the three publications – the Sunday Tribune, Punjabi Tribune, and Dainik Tribune, on November 25, 1984, became so eventful that it went for legal adjudication at the highest level.

It was this story that drew Dr. KK Paul to The Tribune office. He came to see me while I was out and he left a message with his telephone number on my Table diary. After I called him, he came to The Tribune to talk to me at length about my story, its sources of information, and my contacts. I told him that it was my investigation and all the information I had dug up was in the story and I had nothing else to say. 

And the publication of this story had another interesting episode wrapped around it.

The day an advance announcement about publication was made on Friday, November 23, 1984, a local lawyer approached the District Courts and obtained an interim injunction against its publication saying that an assassin, especially of a Prime Minister, could not be profiled in a leading newspaper like The Tribune.

Mr. Samuel Banerjee

I came to know about the stay late in the evening. When I returned to the office after my dinner,  Mr. Samuel Banerjee, who was Chief Sub Editor, broke the news to me and gave me a copy of the Interim Order that had been served on him an hour earlier. I was shell-shocked but quickly recovered from the shock as I started consulting my friends in the judiciary. One of my colleagues, Gurinderjeet Singh, who was on night duty, sat with me and we together went through the petition and the brief court order.

Mr. Gurinderjeet Singh

We drafted a reply as one of my lawyer friends, Mr. Balwant Singh Guliani, promised to make a special plea early next morning, a Saturday, to get the stay vacated. So he called us to his house at 6 in the morning. He went through our draft and amended it to give it a legal look, he asked us to go home and reach the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, where the case was to come up.

After admitting our special plea, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr. K.K. Chopra, also summoned the petitioner, Mr. Anil Sharma,  for arguments that briefly broke for lunch and continued till 4 pm. In between, I was asked by the Court to produce a copy of my article which I did.

So finally, the stay was vacated and The Tribune publications carried the story as announced. And when the judgment in the Indira Gandhi assassination case came, this story was prominently mentioned as a part of the order.

Read the article: Profile of an assassin

Read this article: