Leaders will always have rebels. Some oppose their views while the rest oppose their acts. It is never easy being a leader, especially when you are under the spotlight and judged for every single step you take. Same was the case with these leaders. They may have made mistakes or so it seemed to those who stepped forward to right the wrongs in their own way. A death penalty that was decided not by god or by the law, but simply by those against them.
Here are 14 assassinations that majorly changed the course of history:
1. John F Kennedy
Arguably one of the most famous assassinations in history. The 35th United States President was assassinated while in a motorcade on 22nd November, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the crime but he refused the charges saying he was being framed.
2. Lee Harvey Oswald: The man who shot JFK
JFK died on 22nd November, 1963. Oswald claimed that he was merely a patsy in the entire conspiracy that led to Kennedy’s assassination. But, Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby before he could be tried on 24th November. Who knows what truth would’ve come out. Ruby said he was angry over JFK’s demise and stated that his motive was, “Saving Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial.” Which many believed was a lie. And the mystery of JFK’s death may have died with Lee Harvey Oswald.
3. MK Gandhi
It was ironic how a man who preached non-violence all his life was assassinated. He was shot on 30th January, 1948 by a Hindu nationalist, Nathuram Godse. Before his death, Gandhi had said, “If I were to be shot in the chest and died with the words Hey Ram on my lips, only then would I be a true Mahatma.”
4. Indira Gandhi
Part of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, PM Indira Gandhi was shot by two of her own bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, on the morning of 31st October, 1984. She was shot a total of 33 times by them in retaliation to Operation Blue Star which had left the Golden Temple seriously damaged.
5. Rajiv Gandhi
Ex-Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu on 21st May, 1991. His assassin, Dhanu, an LTTE suicide bomber, bent down to touch his feet and pulled the trigger on the RDX laden belt she was wearing under her dress. Gandhi, along with 14 others, was killed. He was the first politician to be assassinated by a bomb blast.
6. Franz Ferdinand: The death that triggered the World War
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was visiting Sarajevo in Bosnia. On 28th June, 1914, 19-year-old, Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand and even his wife Sophie. Franz’s death sparked the beginning of what came to be called World War One.
7. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was one of the most loved Presidents of the USA. Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on April 14th, 1865. Lincoln sat there without any bodyguards. John Wilkes Booth crept up from behind and shot him in the head at point blank range. It was a Good Friday and the man who got America through the civil war and slavery died on the spot.
8. Yitzhak Rabin: The one who tried to resolve the ‘Israel-Palestine’ conflict
The Israeli PM had signed the Oslo Accords which aimed at resolving Israeli-Palestinian issues. A right wing radical by the name of Yigal Amir got angry and assassinated the PM on 4th November, 1995.
9. Julius Caesar
His last words were, “Et tu, Brute?” (“Even you Brutus?”), when his close friend Marcus Brutus assassinated the leader along with the help of other senators. The emperor was attacked and stabbed on 15th March, 44 BC.
10. Malcolm X
The American Muslim and human rights activist told an interviewer on 19th Feb, 1965, that he was a target for the Nation of Islam, a group that he had denounced a year before. Two days later, he was shot 21 times over his body after receiving 10 buckshot wounds from a shotgun at the Audubon Ballroom.
11. Benazir Bhutto
After 9 years in exile, she was finally granted amnesty by the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, in 2007. She wanted to contest in the elections in 2008. Two weeks before the election, on 27th December, 2007 she was shot as she was waving to her supporters through the sunroof of her car. An explosive went off as well, resulting in her death soon after and killing 20 others. Her party won the elections nevertheless.
12. Robert F Kennedy: The younger Kennedy
He was campaigning for presidency in 1968. He won the California presidential primary and right after midnight, on 5th June, was shot by a young Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan. He was shot thrice and 5 others were wounded. His last words were “Is everybody safe; OK?” He died in hospital the next day.
13. Alexander Litvinenko
An agent of the Russian FSB secret service, he was arrested for exceeding the authority of his position. Once acquitted, he found asylum in England and possibly worked as an MI6 agent. On 1st November, 2006, he suddenly fell ill after a meal. He was poisoned by radioactive polonium-210 and died on 23rd November. He is the first known victim of this lethal dosage. His wife believes that the order to kill him came from Moscow.
14. Martin Luther King Jr
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was shot on 4th April, 1968 by James Earl Ray. MLK was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was only 39 years old. Ironic how a peace loving person met such a sad and early end.