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Indira Gandhi's killers hailed as 'martyrs' in New Zealand gurdwara

world Updated: Feb 13, 2010 18:45 IST

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Satwant Singh and Beant Singh -- the two men who killed then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi -- are being hailed as 'martyrs' in New Zealand's largest gurdwara, evoking a strong condemnation from a section of the Indian community there.

Titled 'Shaheed Bhai' - or martyr brother - the paintings of Satwant and Beant along with Kehar Singh, who was the co-conspirator, hang on the walls in the Takanini gurdwara alongside others who have been killed for their Sikh beliefs, the Weekend Herald reported.

It said an inquiry by it has found images of the trio involved in the shooting of Indira Gandhi are honoured as martyrs in the Sikh gurdwara in Manukau, New Zealand.

Satwant and Beant, both bodyguards of the then Prime Minister, fired more than 30 bullets into Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

The pictures have divided the Sikh community in Auckland - and upset others in the Indian community. But few were willing to speak publicly on the matter, the report said.

A spokesman for the Indian High Commissioner Sureesh Mehta said he was unavailable for comment but said the issue was "sensitive".

Veer Khar, general secretary of the NZ Indian Central Association, said the organisation strived to build a strong relationship between the two countries.

"If someone wants to honour a terrorist, that's an individual choice. But to put them up in a public place, as a community we totally condemn such an activity," said Khar.