On April 17, Twitter user Maya Hariram tweeted a list of questions and answers pertaining to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In a series of tweets, the user suggested that throughout his political career, Rajiv Gandhi was accompanied by Sonia Gandhi in every rally except for the one where he was assassinated, thus suggest possible involvement of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the assassination plot of her late husband Rajiv Gandhi.

The text of the whole threads is as follows:

*10 questions about the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi*
1. Who was Rajiv Gandhi on the day he was assassinated?
Ans- He was the PM candidate of the Congress

2. What was he doing in Sriperumbudur the day he was assassinated?
Ans- Leading an election rally.

Qn.3: *How many people died along with Rajiv Gandhi?*
Ans.: 14 people other than Rajiv Gandhi including the assassin.

Qn.4: *How many of the dead were Congress party leaders?*
Ans.: Zero.

Qn.5: *How many of the injured were Congress party leaders?*
Ans.: Zero.

Q 6 Have you ever seen any election rally where the Congress PM candidate or any Congress candidate is interacting with the public alone without netas/party chamchas surrounding the candidate in the history of Indian politics?*

Ans.: No.

Qn.7: Is it possible to kill someone with a belt bomb of the type worn by Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin from more than 5 feet away?

Ans.: No !

Qn.8: *Does the answer to question 7 suggest that the assassin knew she would get the opportunity to get closer than 5 feet of Rajeev Gandhi and hence planned this method of assassination?*
Ans.: Yes.

Qn.9: *How many rallies has Rajiv Gandhi attended in his political career?*
Ans.: 181.

Qn.10: *How many rallies did Sonia Gandhi attend with Rajiv Gandhi?*

Ans.: 180 out of 181. She was not able to attend the last rally.

This message has gone viral on social media with several individuals sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Fact-check

During the course of the article, we will examine the answer to each question and set the facts straight.

1 & 2. Answers to questions 1 & 2 are true. As claimed, Rajiv Gandhi was the prime ministerial candidate leading an election rally in 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu where he was assassinated by a suicide bomber.

3. Yes, fourteen people died in a suicide attack that also killed Rajiv Gandhi as claimed.

4. The message falsely claims that no Congress leader except Gandhi was killed in the suicide attack. The list of the 14 people who died in the attack includes at least three Congress members. Santhani Begum, who was the South Chennai Mahila Congress president had also died in the attack. Another Congressman ‘League’ P Munusamy, the then member of the Tamil Nadu legislative council, was also among those who died in the attack. Latha Kannan, a Mahila Congress worker was one of the victims, who also lost her life. In a photograph (posted below), clicked moments before the attack, Santhani Begum was seen standing besides Rajiv Gandhi.

Source: The New Indian Express

5. The viral post also claims that no Congress leader was even injured; let alone killed in the attack. Like the previous claim, this claim is false as well. Needless to say, it is ludicrous to suggest that out of 43 people injured during an election rally of the Congress party, none were connected with the party. Maradadam Chandrashekhar, the candidate for whom Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning, had survived with injuries. As stated above, at least three people associated with the Congress party were killed.

6. In the sixth point, it is being claimed that it is impossible to find a political leader in public not surrounded by his party workers or members of the party. While the answer to this question is true, seeing the question in the context of all the questions, it attempts to suggest that no Congress leader was present in the rally. The suggested claim is false. As shown in the picture below, a Mahila Congress president was standing right in front of Gandhi before the assassination while the claim stated that no Congress leader was present around him.

7 & 8. These questions attempt to make a point that how could the perpetrators even get so close to Gandhi if it wasn’t for a planned conspiracy to assassinate him. According to the caption attached with the same image posted above, Dhanu, the girl adorning jasmine flowers is the belt bomber who killed Rajiv Gandhi in the explosion. The distance between Gandhi and Dhanu is less than 5 metres, which is clearly visible in the above picture. Hence, the claim about the suicide bomber standing very close to Gandhi and the suggestion of the attack being a well-planned assassination also might stand true. However, an impromptu interaction between political leaders and civilians or party workers while campaigning in elections is also not an unusual sight in India. For instance, in the video below, at 0:25 mins, you can see a person approach Gandhi and touch his feet.

9 & 10. The final two questions raised in the message attempt to implicate Sonia Gandhi by suggesting that she was seen with Rajiv Gandhi in every one of the 181 rallies that the latter had addressed, except the one in which he was assassinated. There is no source to confirm the total number of rallies addressed by Rajiv Gandhi. However, the claim that Sonia Gandhi missed just this particular rally is false.

On the very day of the assassination, the rally in which Gandhi was assassinated was the third rally he was supposed to address. Sonia Gandhi did not attend any of the rallies as she was in Delhi on that day. This fact alone disproves the theory of Sonia Gandhi attending all but the last rally.

Alt News analysed several videos of Rajiv Gandhi’s rallies and found multiple videos in which Sonia Gandhi hadn’t accompanied him through the course of his political career.

In the video posted below, Rajiv Gandhi is seen walking towards the dais at a rally, where he is campaigning for Congress leader and veteran actor Rajesh Khanna. At 0:51 in the video, one can clearly make out that Sonia Gandhi was not present at this rally.

At 5:35 mins in the video (below), one can see that Rajiv Gandhi is in another rally walking amongst the people sans Sonia Gandhi.

So, the claim that Rajiv Gandhi’s final rally was the only one that Sonia Gandhi did not attend, is not true at all.

In conclusion, the claims made in the viral social media post which attempts to suggest Sonia Gandhi’s hand in the assassination plot of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are false. The crux of the claim was that no Congress leader was accompanying/injured/dead in the blast that killed Rajiv Gandhi and that Sonia Gandhi had accompanied Rajiv Gandhi in every rally except his last one, in which he was assassinated. Both the claims were found to be patently false, and all it needed was a simple Google search to find the relevant information.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.