A 1:58 minutes long video of the Associated Press’s coverage of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to the Rajghat in 1986 is being widely circulated on social media. The video has been shared with the claim that the SPG (Special Protection Group) noticed some movement behind a bush during Gandhi’s visit, immediately fired shots and killed a man. The claim further adds that it was later found that the victim was a beggar.

Below is a tweet by BJYM national VP Neeraj Jain.

The claim is viral on both Twitter and Facebook.

It has been shared against the backdrop of protestors blocking PM Modi’s convoy on a flyover in Punjab, which was termed as a ‘security breach’ by the Home Ministry and a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister by news channels supportive of the BJP.

Misleading claim

We performed a keyword search on Google and found the original video by the Associated Press on its AP archive YouTube channel. According to the video description, in October 1986, PM Rajiv Gandhi while attending the anniversary celebration of late Mahatma Gandhi, was shot at by a Sikh man hiding in a gazebo. The man was captured and Rajiv Gandhi was unharmed.

The Washington Post’s report from October 3, 1986, confirms that shots were fired by the lone gunman using a homemade weapon that slightly wounded six people. The gunman was taken into custody. He had initially identified himself as Manmohan Desai but changed his name several times. The same was reported by Los Angeles Times. The report by Los Angeles Times also adds that in an attempt to maintain calm, a police spokesman announced that the gunman had no connection to Sikh extremists.

A report by India Today, published almost after a month after the assassination attempt, provides full details of that day, including how the lone gunman was taken into custody. India Today mentions the identity of the lone gunman as one Karamjit Singh.

Singh’s interview can be watched below.

To summarise, when PM Rajiv Gandhi was visiting Rajghat on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a lone gunman attempted to assassinate him but failed and was taken into custody. The claim that the SPG shot at a beggar is false. No one died in the firing but six people suffered minor injuries.

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About the Author

Kalim is a journalist with a keen interest in tech, misinformation, culture, etc