Through the ages, there have been numerous attempts on the lives of world leaders and people in positions of power. Some have been successful, some not so much – the connecting thread is that events like these have long-lasting and staggering consequences. One of the most notable victims of this was former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991. 

But were you aware that there was another attempt on his life in 1987, and that came extremely close to doing the job as well? In fact, there’s even stunning video footage of the entire incident, that occurred in Sri Lanka.

On July 30, 1987, Rajiv Gandhi was inspecting a Naval Cadet Assembly at President’s House, Colombo when a Sri Lankan Sinhala Navy soldier hit Gandhi with the butt of his rifle. Bodyguards quickly apprehended him before things escalated.

Wijemuni Vijitha Rohana de Silva was a Sri Lankan sailor who was present while Gandhi inspected the Sri Lankan Honor Guard. Rohana felt anger at the Indian support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant organisation in Sri Lanka. To that end, he swung his ceremonial Lee–Enfield rifle at the back of the Indian Prime Minister’s neck. However, Gandhi ducked and avoided the full impact. 

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Rohana was court martialed and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. However, he was given a presidential pardon and was released after 2 and a half years. Following this, he got a degree, started his own business, and even contested the general election in 2000.


It’s surreal watching footage of an Indian Prime Minister being attacked. What’s even harder to understand is how something like this could happen in the first place, and how it would have gone in today’s day and age.

For more such interesting videos, check out Wild Films India on YouTube.