Oct 31, 1984-As I remember

I vividly remember the darkest day of modern India. I was in corporate project planning and was responsible for deciding the equipment and machinery for the two new plants that Hindustan Motors was setting with collaboration of Isuzu Motors for manufacturing transmission and engine for ‘Contessa’ at Pithampur near Indore and for manufacturing the Isuzu trucks at Halol near Vadodara. I was to leave for Tokyo to visit JIMTOF, the machine tools fair. Yamuna was away to Birlapur some 40 km away with my aunty to join my aunty in Chhath puja. But she returned in time to accompany me to airport. JPN, one of my acquaintances, who worked in the plant at Hind Motors, was with us in the car carrying me to the Dum Dum airport. All my three sons had bunked their classes of their Calcutta based school to watch some cricket match on TV at home. I complained to Yamuna about their decision, but perhaps the destiny had us from a nightmare. Very while driving towards the airport, we started getting obstructions on various roads but the driver was knowledgeable of various alternative routes. We could reach Dum Dum well in time. I went for my immigration and then security and Yamuna went to terrace to see my flight taking off. As soon as I came to know of the Indira’s assassination and the troubles all over the country inside the emigration area, I tried to come out and ask Yamuna to return immediately to Hind Motors. But I failed to find her or JPN. I was morose but could do anything. That was not the ‘cell-phones’ era. In the plane, I met Ajoy das of Machine Tools India, who gave some information. In Bangkok Airport’s business lounge, we could get the news about Indira’s assassination by her body guards and the riots all over the country.

Only after reaching Tokyo, I could contact Yamuna and got the details. Yamuna had to face a lot of trouble, but could get Mukherji in the airport who had come to see off some foreigner. Mukherji took her to his house which was near the airport. Yamuna as she narrated later got special attention from the Mukherji family. Next day, my brother-in-law took the factory ambulance and fetched Yamuna from Mukherji’s house. Calcutta was in chaos. Congress volunteers had called strikes and there were riots also in some areas.

Yamuna had seen Rajiv and Pranab Mukherji taking the plane to Delhi. It was an end of Indira Era. India can always take pride has not seen such a brave lady.

The day was a shameful one for all. How can one whole community be made responsible for the two treacherous villains just as they belong to the community? I wish it’s never repeated.

Many have written about the day. I dared to write my own experience. I don’t know how I would have acted or reacted if the kids would have gone to Calcutta and I would have been in Hind Motor with Yamuna in Calcutta.

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