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Updated: October 7, 2009 18:28 IST

MI5 foiled plot to target Rajiv Gandhi in 1985

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Former Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi.
The Hindu
Former Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi.

A plan by Khalistani and Kashmiri militants to assassinate the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to the U.K. in 1985 was foiled by Britain’s internal intelligence agency MI5.

“Good intelligence, combined with the arrests of Sikh and Kashmiri extremists, was believed to have frustrated plots to attack Rajiv Gandhi during his state visit,” Cambridge historian Prof Christopher Andrew has said in his book The Defence of the Realm.

The book, the first official history of Mi5, says that after the Operation Bluestar in the Golden Temple in June 1984, there was sudden emergence of Sikh extremism, particularly in the U.K.

“Sikh extremism, which suddenly emerged in the U.K. as a major threat during the summer and autumn of 1984, was put at the top of the list of current terrorist threats in mainland Britain in 1985-86 annual report by MI5 Director General Tony Duff,” the book says.

Rajiv was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber at an election rally in Sriperambudur in Tamil Nadu in May 1991. At least 14 other people including the attacker, were killed in the blast.

The book says that under the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, India was described as the “arena for more KGB” active measures than anywhere else in the world.

“Oleg Kalgunin, who became head of counter-intelligence in KGB foreign intelligence in 1973, remembers India as a model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government,” it adds.

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