Soviet Secretary General, Mikhail Gorbachev, conducts a conference call with the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. He convinces Gandhi to open up discussions with Harchand Singh Longowal, the leader of the Sikh political party, Akali Dal, in an attempt to resolve the Punjab Insurgency. The Soviet Union also offers its assistance in combating the terrorist movement associated with the Khalistani rebellion.
Police stop a double bombing outside New Delhi’s main bus station. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declares a state of emergency, shutting down the bus and rail system, cancelling police leave and the President’s trip to Zambia. The Yamuna River Zone, the Sikh enclave in New Delhi, is shut down due to the threat of another attack. The Soviets provide evidence to the Indian government that the Pakistani Intelligence Services are planning a terror campaign in conjunction with Sikh terrorists.
US authorities announce the arrest of three Indian citizens living in Louisiana, charging them with a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, during a planned state visit in June. These individuals are connected to Khalistani terrorist groups and, during his visit, Gandhi will ask President Reagan to control the Pakistani intelligence services.
A summit is held in Moscow between Secretary General Gorbachev and Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. They agree to a more hard-line approach in containing Pakistan’s aggression, that the two nations are ahead of Khalistani extremists due to good intelligence, that the autonomy of Tibet should be respected and that the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka should receive strong support provided they are prepared to limit civilian attacks such as that first undertaken in May.
Canada foils the attempting bombing of Air India Flight 182, a terrorist act in support of an independent Khalistan. Obtaining information from India regarding the participants, Canada makes a vicious criticism of Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-services Intelligence for its involvement in direct funding of the group and calls upon the United States to warn its ally to desist in destabilisation of India.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi announces a peace agreement between Sikhs and the national government. The Union Territory of Chandiargh and a small Punjabi-speaking section of Rajasthan become part of the state of Punjab, forcing a reconstruction of the city of Faridabad to serve as the new state capital for Haryana. In neighbouring states to the Punjab, Punjabi will receive official second language designation. Compensation will be paid to those persecuted under Indira Gandhi’s Special Powers Act since 1982 and the act will be repealed. A joint commission is established to determine quota access for river waters. An employment quota for bureaucratic positions is implemented, so that Sikhs must hold sixty percent or more of all available positions within the state administration and a corresponding number within the federal bureaucracy. This is locked in by an anti-discrimination law, meeting the vast majority of Sikh demands.
An attempted assassination against Sikh leader, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, during a visit to Delhi fails. He has recently committed his party, Akali Dal, to the peace process in the Punjab and to participation in elections in September.
Delayed provincial elections in the Punjab finally go ahead, with three-fifths of eligible protestors resisting the threat of a terrorist strike. Akali Dal, the moderate Sikh party, will take almost two thirds of the seats in the state assembly, giving it the mandate to continue working towards completion of accords with the Indian government.
The Government of India, along with 120 other defendants, files suit in a US court against Union Carbide Corporation on behalf of the victims of the Bhopal toxic spill disaster. The estimated $3 billion price tag is enough to give the market pause in dealing in UCC stocks.
The assassins of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi are executed inside their prison. The action sparks violence in Haryana by Hindus protesting against the “special treatment” of Sikhs; three are killed in an exchange of gunfire that claims no Sikh lives.
Pope John Paul II visits Calcutta, attending the hospice operated by Mother Theresa. Public reception towards the pontiff is cool, with some Hindu activists staging a rally in Trivandrum, capital of the Indian state of Kerala.
Thirty one people are killed in Chandigarh as paramilitary police stop rioting Hindus, protesting the transfer of the city to exclusive Punjabi authority. This prompts Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to step up plans for the development of Haryana and the city of Faridabad. By the turn of the century, the city will climb to a population of 1.2 million.
Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson resigns after the Indian government decides to reject a compensation offer of $350 million over the Bhopal chemical disaster. This incident of chemical poisoning killed nearly 1,800 people and affected over 300,000. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi states that his country may be prepared to suspend legal action if Union Carbide is prepared to provide “full and fair compensation”, a figure suspected to be at least double the company’s offer.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi condemns recent ongoing Hindu-Sikh violence, which yesterday claimed thirty-seven lives across India and saw an attempted assassination on Chief Minister of Punjab, Harchand Singh Longowal. Gandhi announces an intention to toughen policies against the Khalistani movement and “to take the fight to the initiators of this campaign”, referring to the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence unit.
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Harchand Singh Longowal, asks Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to bring military force to bear in his region, with the hope of removing the remaining Sikh and some Hindu extremists who are fanning discontent in his region. In a startling police move, they raid the Khalistani secessionist headquarters and arrest its governing committee. This is marked as a major political victory for Gandhi.
With perception that the Gandhi government is willing to compromise on autonomy demands, following settlement of the Sikh question, the Gorkha insist that they are the next. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi states that he will work with the government of West Bengal towards a resolution, but refuses to deal with leader Subash Ghising unless he is prepared to renounce his violent campaign. Gandhi predicts that an autonomous territory can be carved out as early as 1988.
One person is captured and another killed after they are found laying in wait for Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi as he makes his way to outdoor prayer services. Ghandi orders the Punjabi state police to immediately improve security and crack down on radical elements.
Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in India for a four-day visit. He speaks to the Indian Parliament, stating that complete nuclear disarmament is achievable if the Great Powers can agree on how it can happen. He states that his American counterpart “needs to develop some hope in humanity”, warning that his military apparatus has become a “voracious monster”. He claims that, given the Americans stand in violation of the SALT II Treaty, there is no reason yet to believe they are fully complying with the INF Treaty. He states that the Soviet Union will give India $1.37 billion in credit to begin a partnership in the establishment of a national hydroelectric scheme, with the aim of tripling energy production in that sector by 2050, and decreasing the coal sector from roughly a quarter of all energy production to ten percent by 2025.
India’s Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, welcomes Airborne Warning and Control technology, a gift from his visiting Soviet counterpart. Premier Mikhail Gorbachev expresses the view that India is the most valuable friend in the community of non-aligned nations. He also brings talking points from moderate contacts with Iran, who, like India and the Soviet Union, are seeking resolution of the instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
India and the USSR agree to open new trade terms, which will allow a further $300 million in trade between the two countries. In the long term, it will give India an assured supply of raw materials. However, the Soviets insist that India heavily promote family education and limit child numbers as much as possible, stating that “South Asia does not have the capacity for two billion people”.
Satellites note three hundred and fifty thousand Indian troops have gathered on the borders of Pakistan, nearly double the figure advised for a scheduled war game on the frontier. India’s army chief, General Sundarji, claims that there is no hostile intent, however he suggests that the Pakistani ISI is supporting resistance activity in Kashmir that would justify an attack.
Following state elections in West Bengal and Kerala, traditional Congress Party strongholds, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is prepared to admit his organisation has suffered crushing defeats. In West Bengal, Congress has lost fourteen of its seats, falling from 53 to 39 in the 294-seat Assembly. Most of the defection is to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which has formed a government in Kerala. Many suggest that he could face a rebellion in his party ranks if he does not do well in elections due in Haryana in July.
The Defence Minister of India, Vishwanath Pratap (V.P.) Singh, gives an extraordinary press conference in which he calls for an investigation into deals with armaments manufacturer, Bofors, during 1984. Resigning his position and his membership of the Congress Party, he suggests that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several other ministers may have received kickbacks.
Indian police announce that they have broken a criminal ring based in Calcutta Airport. Mail directed to Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity has been systematically checked for cash or cashable cheques and diverted into bank accounts in Hong Kong.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi claims that the Pakistani ISI is funding terrorist groups in the Punjab and threatening the fragile peace accord with the Sikhs. He dismisses the state government and imposes direct rule. Troops are mobilised along the border between India and Pakistan, with both sides engaged in sabre rattling diplomacy.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi addresses his nation, stating that the Armed Forces have been instructed to “rectify imbalances” on two fronts (Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and to bring stability to the region. Headed for Jaffna are the newly-acquired carrier, the Viraat, two destroyers, and sixteen other vessels, including amphibious ships. The Viraat has the capacity to run out eighteen combat aircraft. He pledges to unite the Tamil and Kashmiri people under Indian rule. Junius Jayawardene, the President of Sri Lanka, states that the action is a “naked violation of sovereignty and independence”, but Ghandi insists he is acting to protect India from the “deterioration of the regional security situation”.
Despite his attempts to rally the nation behind his military efforts, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is dealt another defeat in state elections, his sixth loss in the past seven polls. Many suspect that, if a national election was held, Gandhi and his Congress (I) Party would be swept away in an electoral landslide.
India declares war on Pakistan; its troops cross the international border in response to a Pakistani offensive against Amritsar. They attack the town of Sialkot, which has been under heavy air raids for the past six days. The capture of the city places India in control of the North-Western railway, blocking off transport between Lahore and the Pakistani capital in Islamabad.
Indian troops close on the city of Lahore and, when the Lahore International Airport is struck by artillery, the United Nations calls a meeting of the Security Council in New York. International businesspeople flee the city, heading south away from the front. UN Ambassador Vernon Walters states that the Soviets are frustrating the process of creating a resolution condemning the war in India, leaving it to US Secretary of State James Baker to unilaterally condemn the attacks on Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Indian Navy confirms the destruction of a radar facility east of Karachi, but refuses to discuss any engagement with Pakistan’s navy. Meanwhile, on the Sri Lankan front, the occupation of large parts of the island is underway. Any large gathering of Sri Lankan forces has been quickly purged from the air, with few casualties on the Indian side, until the death toll has Sri Lankan dead outnumbering Indian dead by ten to one.
Pakistani intelligence operatives strike in the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, with a group of just fifteen attackers killing nearly eighty people before police finally bring them down. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has recently called for a general strike to force the highly unpopular government of Rajiv Gandhi to its knees. However, now, they call for the pursuit of war until Pakistan is forced to submit to India's terms.
The UN Security Council votes for a ceasefire between India and Pakistan, as the reported death toll from the conflict reaches seven thousand. In the air, on the ground and in land won, the Indians have excelled. The surviving dregs of the Pakistani Air Force have been eliminated, losing two jets for every loss on the Indian side, as well as three times as many tanks (over half their land forces) and four times as much territory.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi rejects the calls of the UN Security Council, stating he retains twice the land power of Pakistan, with 85% of his reserves still not called up. He states that continual interference by Pakistan in the affairs of its neighbours means that they must be dealt a final and conclusive blow. A number of Muslim countries begin to express concern about the future of Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Junius Jayewardene announce a ceasefire between their nations, with most of eastern and northern Sri Lanka in enemy hands. Gandhi has agreed to release Vellupillai Prabakaran, leader of the militant rebel group, LTTE, with Prabakaran stating he will return to Jaffna to ask the Liberation Tiger commanders to demobilise. Gandhi also pledges Indian support for the creation of an independent nation of Eelam and that referendums will be held, under Indian troop supervision, on the regions which will become part of the new nation. Jayewardene faces violent opposition to the ceasefire, with Sinhalese rioters clashing with police and the army in Colombo. Over the next week, nearly one hundred forty people will die, as columns of smoke rise above the Sri Lankan capital.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi comes under unprecedented attack in Parliament. Battered by a corruption scandal, the defection of ministers and provincial election defeats, as well as the conflict with Sri Lanka and Pakistan, there are demands he establish an independent commission to investigate a contract he negotiated with Swiss defence contractor, Bofors. Gandhi manages to retain control due to his overwhelming majority, but there is a general expectation that he is headed for defeat in the next general election (due in 1989).
The city of Lahore falls to Indian troops, forcing the government of Pakistan to seek terms for peace. The UN estimates that nearly ten thousand people have been killed in the conflict after just seven weeks.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi announces the end of military action in Pakistan. Under the ceasefire signed between his government and Pakistani representatives, the region of Azad Kashmir is added to Indian rule. Pakistan is forced to renounce the development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, downsize the armed forces, abolish most of its intelligence infrastructure and surrender the right to offensive action against any country unless first attacked. Many analysts suspect that retaliation will, however, eventually be forthcoming.
India’s agricultural community joins in ceremonies and prayers to the god Varuna, seeking rain after government admissions that India is experiencing its worst drought conditions in a century. Yields are expected to fall below 70% of normal levels. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi announces that the government has sufficient buffer grain to fulfil the needs of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam and immediately forms an emergency committee to distribute food and water.
Indian police intervene to stop a woman, Roop Kanwar, from carrying out the ancient Hindu rite of sati after an injunction is issued by a Rajasthan court, provoking a riot. Sati involves a widow immolating herself on the funeral pyre of her late husband. Five other family members are detained for conspiracy to commit murder. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi pledges legislation to outlaw the practice.
Police break into the offices of Indian Express, the largest English language paper on the subcontinent. While there are allegations that the newspaper has avoided taxes, the less kind suggest that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is attempting to intimidate the press after allegations of corruption.
India’s parliament outlaws the practice of sati in response to the recent case of eighteen-year-old Roop Kanwar. The legislation will also make any public speech in support of the practice illegal, leading to thirteen days of protests. Kanwar and her family will be tied up in legal proceedings for the next fifteen years.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India signs a treaty with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan of Pakistan, under which Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas are transferred to Indian sovereignty. They will be incorporated into the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Gandhi claims that the conclusion of the conflict over Kashmir and the settlement of the final border between the two countries will end the historical animosity between the two countries. He also states that it will allow negotiations with China over the disputed regions ceded by Pakistan in 1963.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi announces plans to construct a major water and sewage treatment facility at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The ancient city on the Ganges has been responsible for large decreases in the biochemical oxygen content and large increases in fecal coliform count in the sacred river. Much of the funding for the project will come through the UN Environmental Programme, which will oversee the project.
Protestors line the streets of Mumbai and Kolkata as opponents of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi demand his resignation and an early election. However, Gandhi states that in most of India’s states, the call for protest has gone unheeded. This is particularly true in those states that have a Congress Party majority in power.
Violence once again breaks out on the Indian subcontinent as clashes between Hindus and Sikhs once again hit the international headlines. In the last two months, fifty-five people have been killed in religious violence. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi warns that his policy of appeasement of the Sikhs has been placed under review as Indian troops surround the Golden Temple in Amritsar to prevent the site being used as a focus of violence once again.
An armed force stages an uprising in Srinigar, Kashmir, claiming to have the support of nationalist leader Farooq Abdullah, in favour of an independent Kashmir. Abdullah denies support to the movement as the Indian Army steps in, violently repressing “these Pakistani terrorists”. Over ninety people are killed in the crackdown and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi threatens to move against Pakistan “if its aggressive behaviour continues”.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi receives intelligence that the Tamil Tigers, wanting to place pressure on Delhi to grant Eelam greater territory than it appears likely to receive, are plotting to seize control of the Maldives. Indian troops arrive on the islands within hours, killing twenty people and detaining a leading businessman. A freighter in international waters is sunk.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi attempts to address concern about his recent military occupation of the Maldives. He states the troops were invited by President Mahmoun Abdul Gayoom. He argues that India is not seeking a larger role in the region but has been forced to adopt the position of “ensuring regional stability”. He condemns the LTTE, the “Tamil Tigers”, for attempting to start a new conflict before they had finished another and confirms that he has ordered the arrest of their entire leadership in Jaffna.
During a visit to a Punjab village, militants attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India. Gandhi survives, but declares a state of emergency in the capital and three northern states. Two men are killed by security forces.
Regional elections in Tamil Nadu give Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress Party only fifty out of 205 seats in the state legislative assembly. The largest party, DMK, is a member of the National Front coalition seeking to topple the Congress government in elections later this year.
In an attempt to settle the long legal case, the Indian Government agrees to downgrade its claim against Union Carbide over the Bhopal disaster, reducing the total funds sought from $3.3 billion to $1.93 billion, with specific breakdowns of all costs and charges rather than just a blanket figure. In response, Union Carbide makes its own new offer, increasing it from $300 million to $470 million. Five years after the disaster, the victims have still not been compensated and India warns that, should this continue, it will allow Indian citizens to make direct claims in US courts. The threat alone sees Union Carbide shares fall by 3% in one day.
Concern is expressed in China, Indonesia and Australia after Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, announces an increase in the national military budget from $8.5 billion to $11 billion per annum. He cites India’s increasing military role, with its involvement in conflict with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Eelam and the Maldives, declaring his nation has become the “regional policeman”. US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney states that it makes sense for the US to build a more “congenial” relationship with India.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is accused of electoral fraud in parliamentary polls held three weeks ago. His accusers in the National Front express suspicion after their polls predicted a NF majority. Gandhi denies all charges, stating that, while his Congress Party may have used every tool to increase its chance of winning, he did not include illegal moves. He also mocks various opposition leaders for trying to destabilise the country at a time of war, announcing that today he has ordered a full scale invasion of Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi states that his country has quickly established air superiority over Pakistan and that the air force which survived the war two years ago has been eliminated. He claims that advances will be made quickly due to the dry grounds of winter and the fact that the Himalayan passes are cut by snow will prevent any progress by Pakistan in the northern theatre, where they are strongest. He also confirms that Indian armies will be supplying the new National Army of the Sindh.