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Foiling a Plot to Kill Gandhi


Time, May 27, 1985

Photo: Rajiv Gandhi

After Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by Sikh bodyguards in New Delhi last October, a group of militant Sikhs demonstrated their approval at a rally in Manhattan by chanting 'Who's the next? Rajiv Gandhi!' Last week the F.B.I. charged that three Sikhs were planning to carry out that threat by killing Gandhi when the new Prime Minister visits the U.S. June 11 to 15. The F.B.I. said the plot, along with another alleged conspiracy to assassinate Bhajan Lal, chief minister of the northern Indian state of Haryana, was the work of a Sikh extremist group in the U.S. that may have as many as 50 members.

According to an F.B.I. affidavit filed last week, the agency videotaped encounters between an undercover agent and Gurpartap Singh Birk, 33, along with other Sikhs who allegedly wanted paramilitary training. Birk was also looking for a hit man to assassinate Gandhi and do away with Bhajan Lal, the affidavit states. Birk and three others were arrested in early May in New Orleans outside the hotel where Bhajan Lal was staying.

Gandhi has announced he will visit the U.S. as planned. Meanwhile, Indian authorities and Interpol are investigating links between the alleged Sikh terrorists in the U.S. and extremists in Canada, Europe and India.