The Indian Independence came at a very high price. The simultaneous creation of Pakistan made people forget the momentary joy of Independence. It marked the beginning of an era of uncomfortable silences and loud disapproval towards any and every foreign policy. The opinionated nature of the then free Indian had the Infant Democracy suffer terrible, and seemingly, never-ending turmoil. The difference in opinion of the citizens, among each other or against their political leaders, many-a-times took up gruesome colours. One such event was the assassination of the ‘Father of the Nation’, M. K. Gandhi.
On January 30th, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi fell to his assassin Nathuram Vinayak Godse’s bullets during an evening prayer ceremony at Birla House in Delhi. Perched atop a gate of Birla House, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru announced to the world the “light has gone out of our lives”.
Godse, shot Gandhiji thrice in the chest at point-blank range, with a Beretta M 1934 semi-automatic pistol at 05:12pm that day and the Mahatma succumbed to injuries soon after. His last words are believed to have been his dying prayer.
“Hey Raam,” he’d sighed.
Nathuram Godse had been an active member of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha and had also run a nationalist newspaper, ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Godse, in his defending speech during his trial at the Red Fort accused Gandhiji of supporting the idea of a separate state for Muslims, the idea of Pakistan. He also expressed disapproval towards Gandhiji for having fasted to compel the Union government to release Rs. 55 crores due to Pakistan, in spite of the ongoing aggression in Kashmir. He firmly believed that the belligerence of Muslims was a result of Gandhiji’s policy of appeasement. However, these arguments were considered frivolous, since Godse had been caught attempting to sneak an attack on Gandhiji on two previous occasions. His defense saw very few believers because when the unsuccessful attempts to take Gandhiji’s life were made in 1934, 1944 and 1946, the proposal to partition and obviously the matter regarding the release of money to Pakistan did not even exist. Thus, it is believed that, the conspiracy to do away with Gandhiji was conceived much earlier.
The assassination was later discovered to be not a solo act but a long drawn criminal conspiracy involving other allies; of which Godse and Narayan Apte, a fellow conspirator, were given death sentences, while six others- including Godse’s brother, Gopal were sentenced to life imprisonment.
India has lived to celebrate its 68th Republic Day, yet the Mahatma’s teachings, ideals, and spirit still live to guide the humble, well-wishing Indian. The modern day Indian may not see it, but Bapu, we’re ever indebted to you.
“If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips. And if anything happens, you are not to shed a single tear.”
~Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. 28 January, 1948.
About the Author:
Voracious reader, avid orator, and enthusiastic dancer.