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The first woman suicide bomber had killed PM Rajiv Gandhi on this day 28-years-ago

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NEW DELHI: Exactly 28-years-ago, on this day the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, was killed in a terrorist attack.

The killer was Dhanu, a young woman member of LTTE, one of the most deadly terrorist outfits in the world. 

A member of LTTE's black tigers or the suicide squad, Dhanu was wearing RDX explosive laden belt that had thousands of steel pellets and detonated it just when she got close enough to Rajiv.

Though security personnel tried to stop her, Rajiv let her come. She bowed in front of Rajiv, as if she was about to touch his feet and at that moment, she detonated the IED, causing a huge blast. Thenmozhi Rajaratnam alias Thanu alias Dhanu, the first suicide bomber on Indian soil, was also killed in the explosion.

As many as 15 persons were killed in this attack--the first such major suicide bombing in India. Though LTTE was involved in suicide bombings from mid-eighties, it was the biggest terror attack that led to the assassination of the Prime Minister of India. 

Dhanu had watched a movie and had an ice-cream a day before the attack. Though LTTE delegations had sent the message to Indian government that there was no threat to Rajiv, the truth was that the conspiracy had been hatched to assassinate him, long back.

The year was 1991. Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. His death in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu left the entire country in a state of shock. The Chandrashekhar government ordered a CBI probe. Elections were held subsequently and PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government came to power. 

Meanwhile, the TADA court had given death sentence to 26 persons involved in this conspiracy. There were appeals and the case went to the Supreme Court. Later, four persons were sentenced to death. Nalini's death sentence was commuted to life term. 

Almost three decades later Rajiv Gandhis' assassination--one of the biggest terror attacks on the soil of India, is commemorated every year as Anti-Terrorism Day and a pledge to fight terror is made in offices and establishments, across the country. 

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.