New Delhi: Top leaders led by President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined the nation on Monday to pay tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 27th death anniversary. In Delhi, a remembrance function was held at Shakti Sthal, the site on the banks of the Yamuna river where Gandhi was cremated.
 
The President and the Prime Minister visited the memorial and paid floral tributes to the assassinated leader. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the slain leader's daughter-in-law, and grandson Rahul Gandhi also paid tributes.

The function began with rendering of devotional songs and a replay of speech by Gandhi, who ruled the country for 16 years.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar; Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna; union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Kamal Nath, K.V. Thomas and Krishna Tirath and senior Congress leaders like Motilal Vohra and Manishankar Aiyar were among those who visited Shakti Sthal.

Indira Gandhi was assassination by two of her Sikh guards -- Satwant Singh and Beant Singh Oct 31, 1984 -- in retaliation for Operation Blue Star ordered by her to flush out Khalistani terrorists from the Sikh holy shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Her dramatic assassination resulted in anti-Sikh riots Nov 1-3 in which thousands were killed.

Remembrance functions were also held by state governments and the Congress units at state capitals. Several ministries and government departments issued newspaper advertisements to mark the anniversary.

Remembering victims of 1984

Twenty-seven years since Indira Gandhi was assassinated, 27 years since 2,700 Sikhs were killed in the capital in the terrible aftermath. As a host of VIPs headed towards the late Prime Minister's memorial Monday, thousands of families also remembered their loved ones massacred in the riots - and renewed their pledge to continue the fight for justice.

It was exactly 27 years ago that Indira Gandhi was gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards as she walked from her home to her office, unleashing three days of sectarian violence in several parts of the country that saw 2,733 people being killed in Delhi alone.

As there is no government figure, unofficial estimates put the count of dead during the riots at around 7,000. Almost three decades later, justice continues to elude.

“There is no chance of complete justice, but we are fighting for symbolic justice. Some leaders should be punished to send out a strong message,” Supreme Court lawyer Harvinder Singh Phoolka said.

He has been fighting legal battles to get justice for the families of the riot victims.

In the aftermath of the riots, some 400 cases were filed in the courts, but most of them resulted in acquittal. Some were closed by the police.

Though there were 10 convictions on murder charges in the national capital, outside Delhi only one conviction each in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar took place. Four cases are still on in trial courts.

The passage of time may have dulled the trauma, but family members remember each detail of the violence that took away their fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.

(Agencies)