On October 31, 1984 Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India and arguably the most powerful woman in the world, was on her way to a television interview that was to be conducted by British actor Peter Ustinov. As she crossed the grounds of the PM's residence in New Delhi she was confronted by two of her Sikh bodyguards who opened fire on her at close range. One of the assailants fired 9 rounds from a handgun at her before he was killed by other guards and the second gunman pumped as many as 30 bullets into her body as she lay on the ground before he was overpowered and taken into custody.

In response to the assassination an estimated 2,700 Indian Sikhs were murdered during four days of rioting by supporters of the late PM with some estimates putting the number of dead even higher. Several diplomatic cables that have recently been leaked show that American intelligence agencies at the time believed the anti-Sikh violence was orchestrated by high level officials of the Indian government.

Gandhi's assassination was itself a response to her having ordered the Indian military to clear the so-called "Golden Temple" - Sikhdom's holiest shrine - of Sikh militants several months earlier. That operation resulted in the deaths of a large number of Sikh militants who were holed up inside and also resulted in extensive damage to the temple.

The body of assassinated Indian PM Indira Gandhi lies in state. To the left is her son and future PM Rajiv.