Satwant Singh (1962 – 6 January 1989) was one of the Sikh bodyguards, along with Beant Singh, who assassinated the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, at her New Delhi residence on 31 October 1984.[1]

Satwant Singh
Satwant Singh

Died6 January 1989(1989-01-06) (aged 26–27)
Cause of deathExecuted by hanging
OccupationBodyguard of the Prime Minister of India
EmployerGovernment of India
Criminal charge(s)Assassination of Indira Gandhi
Criminal penaltyDeath by hanging
Surinder Kaur
(m. 1988; died 1989)
  • Tarlok Singh (father)
  • Pyar Kaur (mother)


The motivation for the assassination of Indira Gandhi was revenge for the military attack carried out by the Indian government on Harmandir Sahib, in Amritsar, India, which was occupied by the Sikh militants under the extremist Bhindranwale. The militants were flushed out and Bhindranwale was killed during the operation. The operation also caused damage to the temple premises and casualties on both sides which angered the Sikhs.

Beant Singh drew a .38 revolver and fired three shots into Indira Gandhi's abdomen; as she fell to the ground, Satwant Singh fired all 30 rounds from his Sten automatic weapon into her abdomen (thus, 33 bullets were fired in total, of which 30 bullets hit her). Both assassins subsequently dropped their weapons and surrendered.[2][3]

Beant Singh was shot to death during interrogation in custody soon after the assassination. Satwant Singh was arrested and later sentenced to death by hanging along with co-conspirator Kehar Singh. The sentence was carried out on 6 January 1989.[4]

During the Supreme Court trial, Satwant Singh, a former club wrestler from Amritsar, made the following statement "Let any part of my body, after my Shaheedi ["martyrdom"], removed and used by anyone who may need. However, if you need my eyes, let the authorities tell my parents. I have no hatred for any Hindu, Muslim, Christian, neither hatred for any religion. After my Shaheedi, let no Sikh throw any rock at any Hindu. I am not in favour of any retaliation or bloodshed over my Shaheedi. If we do create bloodshed, then there is no difference between us and Rajiv Gandhi. I am Proud of the task that I did! I do ardas [prayer] in front of Waheguru! If I am blessed with a human life, then give me a death of the Brave when I am hanged. Forget one life, if I could I would give up a thousand lives to kill dushts [thugs] like Indira Gandhi, and laugh as I become Shaheed [a martyr] by hanging…." [5]


The assassination of Gandhi brought their immediate families into the limelight,[6] resulting in their winning two Lok Sabha seats from state of Punjab.[7] The Lok Sabha is a directly elected 543 member lower house of the Parliament of India. A film called Kaum de Heere was made about him in 2014. [8]

Honours and death anniversariesEdit

In 2003, a Bhog ceremony was held at the highest Sikh temporal seat in Akal Takht, located in the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar, where tributes were paid to Indira Gandhi's assassins.[9]

In 2004, the anniversary of his death was again observed at Akal Takhat, Amritsar, where his mother was honored by the head priest and tributes were paid to Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh by various political parties.[10] In 2007, the death anniversaries of Satwant Singh and his wife were observed in various parts of Punjab and other countries. On 6 January 2008, the Akal Takht declared Beant Singh and Satwant Singh "martyrs of Sikhism",[9][11][12] while the SGPC also labeled them "martyrs of the Sikh nation".

The Sikh-centric political party in India, Shiromani Akali Dal, observed the death anniversary of Beant Singh and Satwant Singh as "martyrdom" for the first time on 31 October 2008.[13] Every 31 October since, this date has been observed at Sri Akal Takht Sahib.[14]

Aftermath of executions of Satwant Singh and Kehar SinghEdit

It was reported in the Indian press that during the aftermath of the executions of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, communal violence occurred in Punjab.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Singh's father was Tarlok Singh.[10] He married Surinder Kaur (daughter of Virsa Singh) on 2 May 1988 while he was in prison.[16] His fiancé wed him in absentia by marrying his photo in an Anand Karaj.[17][18]


  1. ^ "1984: Assassination and revenge". BBC News. 31 October 1984. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  2. ^ Smith, William E. (12 November 1984). "Indira Gandhi: Death in the Garden". TIME. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  3. ^ Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley (November 1996). Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues With Sikh Militants. ISBN 978-0812215922. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Indian prime minister shot dead". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Shaheed Satwant Singh Ji : (Part 3 of 3)". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  6. ^ "SAMRALA INDIA Widow of Mrs. Gandhi's Killer Seeks Seat in Parliament by Richard S Ehrlich". 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  7. ^ "India's New Chief Given A Go-Ahead". New York Times. 22 December 1989. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  8. ^ "The Tribune".
  9. ^ a b "The Tribune". 7 January 2003. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b "The Tribune". Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Indira Gandhi killers labelled martyrs". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Indira assassin 'great martyr': Vedanti". Indian Express. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  13. ^ "The Tribune". Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  14. ^ "The Tribune". Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  15. ^ "Sikhs Kill 14 Hindus After Executions in India". Reuters. 8 January 1989. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Indira Gandhi Killers To Be Hanged Friday - New York Times". 1 December 1988. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  17. ^ "". 9 June 1988. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Miami Herald: Search Results". Retrieved 2 August 2017.