|Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi|
A memorial marks the spot in Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti ), New Delhi, where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated at 5:17 p.m. on 30 January 1948.
|Location||New Delhi, India|
|Date||30 January 1948 |
17:17 (Indian Standard Time)
|Weapons||Beretta M 1934 Semi-automatic pistol|
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948 in the compound of Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), a large mansion. His assassin was Nathuram Vinayak Godse, advocate of hindu nationalism, a member of the political party the Hindu Mahasabha, and a past member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he left in 1940 to form an armed organization. Godse had planned the assassination.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahātmā was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa and is now used worldwide. In India, he was also called Bapu, a term that he preferred, and Gandhi ji, and is known as the Father of the Nation.
Gandhi Smriti formerly known as Birla House or Birla Bhavan, is a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, situated on Tees January Road, formerly Albuquerque Road, in New Delhi, India. It is the location where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and was assassinated on 30 January 1948. It was originally the house of the Indian business tycoons, the Birla family. It is now also home to the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum, which was established in 2005.
The Hindu Mahasabha is a right wing Hindu nationalist political party in India.
Gandhi had just walked up the low steps to the raised lawn behind Birla House where he conducted his multi-faith prayer meetings every evening. Godse stepped out from the crowd flanking the path leading to the dais and into Gandhi's path, firing three bullets at point-blank range.Gandhi instantly fell to the ground. Gandhi was carried back to his room in Birla House from where a representative emerged some time later to announce that he had died.
Point-blank range is any distance over which the trajectory of a given projectile fired from a given weapon remains sufficiently flat that one can strike a target by firing at it directly. Point-blank range will vary by a weapon's external ballistics characteristics and target chosen. A weapon with a flatter trajectory will permit a longer maximum point-blank range for a given target size, while a larger target will allow a longer point-blank range for a given weapon.
The Gandhi murder trial opened in May 1948 in Delhi's historic Red Fort, with Godse the main defendant, and his collaborator Narayan Apte and six others as the co-defendants. According to Markovits (2004), Godse tried to
Narayan Dattatraya Apte was an Indian activist and entrepreneur who was executed for his role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born into a family of scholars.
...use the courtroom as a political forum by reading a long declaration in which he attempted to justify his crime. He accused Gandhi of complacency towards Muslims, blamed him for the sufferings of Partition, and generally criticized his subjectivism and pretension to a monopoly of the truth."
According to J. Edward Mallot (2012), Godse blamed Gandhi for continuing to appease Muslims in such a manner "that my blood boiled and I could tolerate him no longer."
The trial was rushed through, the haste sometimes attributed to the home minister Vallabhbhai Patel's desire "to avoid scrutiny for the failure to prevent the assassination." November 1949.The trial was public, but the statement that Nathuram Godse gave during the trial on why he killed Gandhi was immediately banned by the Indian government. Godse and Apte were sentenced to death on 8 November 1949. They were hanged in the Ambala jail on 15
Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as Sardar Patel, was an Indian politician. He served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was an Indian barrister and statesman, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and a founding father of the Republic of India who played a leading role in the country's struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and elsewhere, he was often called Sardar, meaning "chief" in Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. He acted as Home Minister during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
Ambala, is a city and a municipal corporation in Ambala district in the state of Haryana, India, located on the border with the Indian state of Punjab and in proximity to both states capital Chandigarh. Politically; Ambala has two sub-areas: Ambala Cantonment also known as and Ambala City, less than one kilometer apart, therefore it is also known as "Twin City". It has a large Indian Army and Indian Air Force presence within its cantonment area. Ambala separates the Ganges river network from the Indus river network and is surrounded by two rivers – Ghaggar and Tangri – to the north and to the south. Due to its geographical location, the Ambala district plays an important role in local tourism, being located 47 km south of Chandigarh, the state capital, 148 km southwest of Shimla, 198 km north of New Delhi and 260 km southeast of Amritsar.Gurudwara Manji Sahib is situated in Ambala.
In early September 1947, Gandhi had moved to Delhi to help stem the violent rioting there and in the neighboring province of East Punjab.The rioting had come in the wake of the partition of the British Indian empire, which had accompanied the creation of the new independent dominions of India and Pakistan, and involved large, chaotic transfers of population between them.
Nathuram Vinayak Godse, and his assassination accomplices, were residents of the Deccan region. Godse had previously led a civil disobedience movement against Osman Ali Khan, the Muslim ruler of the princely Deccan region dominion of Hyderabad State in British India. Godse joined a protest march in 1938 in Hyderabad, where Hindus were being discriminated against, according to Fetherling.He was arrested for political crimes and served a prison sentence. Once he was out of prison, Godse continued his civil disobedience and worked as a journalist reporting the sufferings of Hindu refugees escaping from Pakistan, and during the various religious riots that erupted in the 1940s.
According to Arvind Sharma, the concrete plans to assassinate Gandhi were initiated by Godse and his accomplices in 1948, after India and Pakistan had already started a war over Kashmir. The government of India, led by Congress leaders, had withheld a payment to Pakistan in January 1948 because it did not want to finance Pakistan, which was at war with India at that time. January 1948 to pressure the Indian government to release the payment to Pakistan. The Indian government, yielding to Gandhi, reversed its decision. Godse and his colleagues interpreted this sequence of events to be a case of Gandhi controlling power and hurting India.Gandhi opposed the decision to freeze the payment, and went on a fast-unto-death on 13
On the day Gandhi went on hunger strike, Godse and his colleagues began planning how to assassinate Gandhi.Nathuram Vinayak Godse and Narayan Apte purchased a Beretta M1934. Along with purchasing the pistol, Godse and his accomplices shadowed Gandhi's movements.
Gandhi had initially been staying at the scheduled caste Balmiki Temple, near Gole Market in the northern part of New Delhi, and holding his prayer meetings there. When the temple was requisitioned for sheltering refugees of the partition he moved to Birla House, a large mansion on what was then Albuquerque Road in south-central New Delhi, not far from the diplomatic enclave.Gandhi was living in two unpretentious rooms in the left wing of Birla House, and conducting prayer meetings on a raised lawn behind the mansion.
The first attempt to assassinate Gandhi at Birla House occurred on 20 January 1948. According to Stanley Wolpert, Nathuram Godse and his colleagues followed Gandhi to a park where he was speaking. One of them threw a grenade away from the crowd. The loud explosion scared the crowd, creating a chaotic stampede of people. Gandhi was left alone on the speakers' platform. The original assassination plan was to throw a second grenade, after the crowds had run away, at the isolated Gandhi. But the alleged accomplice Digambar Badge lost his courage, did not throw the second grenade and ran away with the crowd. All of the assassination plotters ran away, except Madanlal Pahwa who was a Punjabi refugee of the Partition of India. He was arrested.
Manu Gandhi, called "Manuben" in Gujarati fashion, was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's great niece (more precisely, a first cousin twice removed). Abha Chatterjee (Abhaben Chatterjee) was a girl adopted by the Gandhis who would later marry Gandhi's nephew, Kanu Gandhi. They were walking with Gandhi when he was assassinated. a.m., and reprimanded Manuben to take care of herself since her health was not what it should be for an 18-year-old. Gandhi, aged 78, was weighed after his bath and was 109.5 pounds (49.7 kg). He then ate lunch with Pyarelalji discussing Noakhali riots. After lunch, states Manuben, Gandhi napped. After waking up, he had a meeting with Sardar Dada. Two Kathiawar leaders wanted to meet him, and when Manuben informed Gandhi that they wanted to meet him, Gandhi replied, "Tell them that, if I remain alive, they can talk to me after the prayer on my walk".According to Last Glimpses Of Bapu, a memoir by Manuben Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi (Bapu) started the day in Birla Bhawan by listening to a recitation of the Bhagavad Gita . He then worked on a Congress constitution he wanted to publish in the Harijan, had his bath and massage at 8
According to Manuben's memoir the meeting between Sardar Dada and Gandhi went past the scheduled time and Gandhi was about ten minutes late to the prayer meeting.He began his walk to the prayer location by walking with Manuben to his right and Abha to his left, holding onto them as walking sticks. A stout young man in khaki dress, wrote Manuben, pushed his way through the crowd bent over and with his hands folded. Manuben thought that the man wanted to touch Gandhi's feet. She pushed the man aside saying, "Bapu is already ten minutes late, why do you embarrass him". Godse pushed her aside so forcibly that she lost her balance and the rosary, notebook, and Gandhi's spitoon she was carrying, fell out of her hands. She recalled that as she bent to the ground to pick up the items she heard four shots, resounding booms, and she saw smoke everywhere. Gandhi's hands were folded, with his lips saying, "Hei Ra...ma! Hei Ra...!". Abhaben, wrote Manuben, had also fallen down and she saw the assassinated Gandhi in Abhaben's lap.
The pistol shots had deafened her, wrote Manuben, the smoke was very thick, and the incident complete within 3 to 4 minutes. A crowd of people rushed towards them, according to Manuben. The watch she was carrying showed 5:17 p.m. and blood was everywhere on their white clothes. Manuben estimated that it took about ten minutes to carry Gandhi back into the house, and no doctor was available in the meanwhile. They only had a first aid box, but there was no medicine in it for treating Gandhi's wounds. According to Manuben,
the first bullet from the assassin's seven-bore automatic hit the belly 3.5 inches to the right of the middle and 2.5 inches above the navel; the second hit the belly 1 inch away from middle, and the third 4 inches away to the right".
Gandhi had suffered profuse blood loss. Everyone was crying loudly. In the house, Bhai Saheb had phoned the hospital many times, but was unable to reach any help. He then went to Willingdon Hospital in person, but came back disappointed. Manuben and others read Gita as Gandhi's body lay in the room. Col. Bhargava arrived, and he pronounced Gandhi dead.
According to some reports, while the attending crowd was still in shock, Gandhi's assassin Godse was seized by Herbert Reiner Jr, a 32-year-old, newly arrived vice-consul at the American embassy in Delhi. According to an obituary for Reiner published in May 2000 by The Los Angeles Times, Reiner's role was reported on the front pages of newspapers around the world,
According to Stratton (1950), on January 30, 1948, Reiner had reached Birla House after work, arriving fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the prayer meeting at 5 p.m., and finding himself in a relatively small crowd. Although there were some armed guards present, Reiner felt that the security measures were inadequate, especially in view of an attempted bomb explosion at the same location ten days before. By the time Gandhi and his small party reached the garden area a few minutes after five, the crowd had swelled to several hundred, which Reiner described as comprising "schoolboys, girls, sweepers, members of the armed services, businessmen, sadhus, holy men, and even vendors displaying pictures of 'Bapu'". At first, Reiner had been at some distance from the path leading to the dais, but he moved forward, explaining later, "An impulse to see more, and at a closer range, of this Indian leader impelled me to move away from the group in which I had been standing to the edge of the terrace steps".
As Gandhi was walking briskly up the steps leading to the lawn, an unidentified man in the crowd spoke up, somewhat insolently in Reiner's recollection, "Gandhiji, you are late".Gandhi slowed down his pace, turned toward the man, and gave him an annoyed look, passing directly in front of Reiner at that moment. But no sooner had Gandhi reached the top of the steps, than another man, a stocky Indian man, in his 30s, and dressed in khaki clothes, stepped out from the crowd and into Gandhi's path. He soon fired several shots up close, at once felling Gandhi. A BBC correspondent Robert Stimson described what happened next in a radio report filed that night: "For a few seconds no one could believe what had happened; every one seemed dazed and numb. And then a young American who had come for prayers rushed forward and seized the shoulders of the man in the khaki coat. That broke the spell. ... Half a dozen people stooped to lift Gandhi. Others hurled themselves upon the attacker. ... He was overpowered and taken away". Others, as well, described how the crowd seemed paralyzed until Reiner's action.
Robert Trumbull of The New York Times, who was an eyewitness, described Reiner's action in a front-page story on January 31, 1948,
The assassin was seized by Tom Reiner of Lancaster, Mass., a vice consul attached to the American Embassy and a recent arrival in India. ... Mr. Reiner grasped the assailant by the shoulders and shoved him toward several police guards. Only then did the crowd begin to grasp what had happened and a forest of fists belabored the assassin ...
Reiner too had noticed a man in khaki step into the path leading to the dais, but his further view was occluded by a party of associates following Gandhi. He soon heard sounds, though, which in his words were "not loud, not ringing, and not unlike the reports of damp firecrackers ..." and which for a moment made him wonder if some sort of celebration was underway.The details and the role of Reiner in seizing Godse vary by the source. According to Frank Allston, Reiner stated that
Godse stood nearly motionless with a small Beretta dangling in his right hand and to my knowledge made no attempt to escape or to take his own fire. ... Moving toward Godse I extended my right arm in an attempt to seize his gun but in doing so grasped his right shoulder in a manner that spun him into the hands of Royal Indian Air Force men, also spectators, who disarmed him. I then fastened a firm grasp on his neck and shoulders until other military and police took him into custody.
According to Tunzelmann, Godse was seized and pummeled by Reiner.According to Khalid Gauba, Reiner was the "unsung hero" and had he not acted "Godse would probably have shot his way out". Reiner was standing in the front row, states Pramod Kapoor, and he seized and held Godse till the police arrived, but his name only appeared in some American newspapers. According to Bamzai and Damle, during the assassination trial, the government did not call to the stand American marine Herbert "Tom" Reiner who caught Godse or the nephew of then Congress minister Takthmal Jain of Madhya Bharat ministry (1948), as well as many others.
According to other reports, Godse surrendered voluntarily and asked for the police.Yet other reports state he was rushed by the crowd, beaten, arrested, and taken to jail. According to some eyewitnesses and court proceedings, Nathuram Godse was seized immediately by witnesses and an Indian Air Force officer dispossessed him of the pistol. The crowd beat him to a bloodied state. The police wrested him loose from the angry crowd, took him to jail. A FIR was filed by Nandlal Mehta at the Tughlak Road police station at Delhi.
The 31 January 1948 issue of The Guardian, a British newspaper, described Gandhi as walking from the "Birla House to the lawn where his evening prayer meetings were held".Gandhi was a bit late for the prayer, leaning on the shoulders of two grand-nieces. On his way, he was approached by a man [Godse] dressed in a khaki bush jacket and blue trousers. Godse greeted him with a Namaste, the customary Hindu salute. According to one version, stated The Guardian, Gandhi smiled back and spoke to Godse, then the assailant pulled out a pistol and fired three times, at point-blank range, into Gandhi's chest, stomach and groin. Gandhi died at 5:40pm, about half an hour after he was shot.
According to The Guardian report, which did not mention Herbert Reiner Jr, Godse "fired a fourth shot, apparently in an effort to kill himself, but a Royal Indian Air Force sergeant standing alongside jolted his arm and wrenched the pistol away. The sergeant wanted to shoot the man but was stopped by the police. An infuriated crowd fell upon the man and beat him with sticks, but he was apprehended by the police and taken to a police station."Godse was questioned by reporters, who in English replied that he was not sorry to have killed Gandhi and awaited his day in court to explain his reasons.
Vincent Sheean was another eyewitness and an American reporter who had covered World War II events.He went to India in 1947 and became a disciple of Gandhi. He was with the BBC reporter Bob Stimson in Birla House premises when Gandhi was assassinated. They stood next to each other by the corner of a wall. According to Sheean, Gandhi walked across the grass in their direction, leaning lightly "on two of the girls", and two or three others following them. Gandhi wrapped in a homespun shawl passed them by, states Sheean's eyewitness account, and climbed up four or five steps to the prayer ground. As usual, according to Sheean, "there was a clump of people, some of whom were standing and some of whom had gone on their knees or bent low before him. Bob and I turned to watch-we were perhaps ten feet away from the steps-but the clump of people cut off our view of the Mahatma now: he was so small".
Then, states Sheean, he heard "four, dull, dark explosions". Sheean asked Stimson, "what's that?" Stimson replied, "I don't know".It was a confusing place, people were weeping and many things happening, wrote Sheean. "A doctor was found, the police took charge; the body of the Mahatma was carried away; the crowd melted, perhaps urged to do so by the police; I saw none of this." Stimson filed a BBC report, then he and Sheean walked up and down the flower bed for a while. Sheean reported that he later met a "young American from the Embassy" who had never been to a prayer meeting before. Sheean did not take in anything the young American said about the scene, but a week later learned that "it was this young man who had captured the assassin, held him for the Indian police" and after turning the assassin over, it was this young American who searched the crowd for a doctor. He experienced a tribal pride, states Sheean, that even though he was paralyzed and helpless on the day of Gandhi's assassination, "one of his breed had been useful".
According to Ashis Nandy, before firing the shots Godse "bowed down to Gandhi to show his respect for the services the Mahatma had rendered the country; he made no attempt to run away and himself shouted for the police".According to Pramod Das, Godse after firing the shots raised his hand with the gun, surrendered and called for the police. According to George Fetherling, Godse did not try to flee, he "stood silently waiting to be arrested but was not approached at first because he was still armed; at last a member of the Indian air force grabbed him by the wrist, and Godse released his weapon". Police, states Fetherling, then "quickly surrounded Godse to prevent the crowd from lynching him". According to Matt Doeden and others, "Godse did not flee the scene, and he voluntarily surrendered himself to the police".
According to some accounts, Gandhi died on the spot. minutes later as one of Gandhi's family members read verses from Hindu scriptures.In other accounts, such as one prepared by an eyewitness journalist, Gandhi was carried back into the Birla House, into a bedroom, where he died about 30
During the subsequent trial, and in various witness accounts and books written since, the motivation of Godse has been summarized, speculated about and debated.Godse did not deny killing Gandhi, and made a long statement explaining his motivations for the assassination. Some of these motivations were:
The assassination was investigated, and many additional people were arrested, charged and tried in a lower court. The case and its appeal attracted considerable media attention, but Godse's statement in his defense to the court was banned immediately by the Indian government. Those convicted were either executed or served their complete sentences.
Along with Nathuram Godse many other accomplices were arrested. They were all identified as prominent members of the Hindu Mahasabha – an organization active in opposing the Muslim ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad State in the Deccan region,before the Indian Army forcibly removed the Nizam in Operation Polo in September 1948.
Along with Godse and accomplices, police arrested the 65-year-old Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who they accused of being the mastermind behind the plot.
The accused, their place of residence, caste and occupational background were as follows:
The trial began on 27 May 1948 and ran for eight months before Justice Atma Charan passed his final order on 10 February 1949. The prosecution called 149 witnesses, the defense none. The court found all of the defendants except one guilty as charged. Eight men were convicted for the murder conspiracy, and others convicted for violation of the Explosive Substances Act. Savarkar was acquitted and set free due to lack of evidence. Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death by hanging and the remaining six (including Godse's brother, Gopal) were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Of those found guilty, all except Godse appealed their conviction and sentence. Godse accepted his death sentence, but appealed the lower court ruling that found him guilty of conspiracy. Godse argued, in his limited appeal to the High Court, that there was no conspiracy, he alone was solely responsible for the assassination, witnesses saw only him kill Gandhi, that all co-accused were innocent and should be released.According to Markovitz, Godse's declarations and expressed motivations during the appeal have been analyzed in contrasting ways. For example, "while Robert Payne, in his detailed account of the trial, dwells on the irrational nature of his statement, Ashis Nandy underlines the deeply rational character of Godse's action, which, in his view, reflected the well-founded fears among upper-caste Hindus of Gandhi's message and its impact on Hindu society."
The appeal by the convicted men was heard from 2 May 1949, at Peterhoff, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) which then housed the Punjab High Court.The High Court confirmed the findings and sentences of the lower court except in the cases of Dattatraya Parchure and Shankar Kistayya who were acquitted of all charges.
Godse and Apte were sentenced to death on 8 November 1949. Pleas for commutation were made by Gandhi's two sons, Manilal Gandhi and Ramdas Gandhi, but these pleas were turned down by India's prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and the Governor-General Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. Godse was hanged in Ambala jail on 15 November 1949. According to the Almanac of World Crime, at the hanging Apte's neck broke and he died instantly, but "Godse died slowly by the rope"; instead of having his neck snap he choked "to death for fifteen minutes".
The Government of India made the assassination trial public. It was widely followed until the day of Godse's statement. According to Awol Allo, the testimony of Nathuram Godse was "so persuasive" that the Indian government immediately banned it.Gopal Godse, a co-accused who was sentenced to life in prison, wrote a memoir which was published in 1967. It was immediately banned and circulating copies of it were seized by the Congress-led government because of fears that it promoted religious hatred between Hindus and Muslims in India. The complete Godse testimony and trial proceedings remained censored for nearly 30 years and were only published for the first time in 1977 after the Indian Congress Party lost power for the first time since Indian independence, and the new government lifted the censorship.
G.D. Khosla, one of the judges who heard the assassination proceedings, later wrote of the Godse statement and the reception of his reasons for assassinating Gandhi by the audience in the court:
The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. (...) I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse's appeal, they would have brought a verdict of "not guilty" by an overwhelming majority.
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After the assassination, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation by radio:
Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.
Gandhi's death was mourned around the world. Field Marshall Jan Smuts, former prime minister of South Africa, and once Gandhi's adversary, said,
"Gandhi was one of the great men of my time and my acquaintance with him over a period of more than 30 years has only deepened my high respect for him. A prince among men has passed away and we grieve with India in her irreparable loss."
The British prime minister Clement Attlee said in a radio address to the nation on the night of January 30, 1948:
Everyone will have learnt with profound horror of the brutal murder of Mr Gandhi and I know that I am expressing the views of the British people in offering to his fellow-countrymen our deep sympathy in the loss of their greatest citizen. Mahatma Gandhi, as he was known in India, was one of the outstanding figures in the world today, ... For a quarter of a century this one man has been the major factor in every consideration of the Indian problem.
Leo Amery, the British secretary of state during the war said,
"It can be said that no one contributed more to the particular way in which the charter of British rule in India has ended than Mahatma Gandhi himself. His death comes at the close of a great chapter in world history. In the mind of India, at least, he will always be identified with the opening of the new chapter which, however troubled at the outset, we should all hope, will develop in peace, concord and prosperity for India."
Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the British secretary of state in 1948 said:
What was the secret of his power over the hearts and minds of men and women? In my opinion it was the fact that he voluntarily stripped himself of every vestige of the privilege that he could have enjoyed on account of his birth, means, personality and intellectual pre-eminence and took on himself the status and infirmities of the ordinary man. When he was in South Africa as a young man and opposed the treatment of his fellow-countrymen in that land, he courted for himself the humiliation of the humblest Indian that he might in his own person face the punishment meted out for disobedience. When he called for non-cooperation with the British in India he himself disobeyed the law and insisted that he must be among the first to go to prison. ... He never claimed to be any other than an ordinary man. He acknowledged his liability to error and admitted that he had frequently-learnt by his mistakes. He was the universal brother, lover and friend of poor, weak, erring, suffering humanity."
Albert Einstein wrote:
He died as the victim of his own principles, the principle of non-violence. He died because in time of disorder and general irritation in his country, he refused armed protection for himself. It was his unshakable belief that the use of force is an evil in itself, that therefore it must be avoided by those who are striving for supreme justice to his belief. With his belief in his heart and mind, he has led a great nation on to its liberation. He has demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political manoeuvres and trickery but through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life. The admiration for Mahatma Gandhi in all countries of the world rests on that recognition.
The New York Times in its editorial wrote:
"It is Gandhi the saint who will be remembered, not only on the plains and in the hills of India, but all over the world. He strove for perfection as other men strive for power and possessions. He pitied those to whom wrong was done: the East Indian laborers in South Africa, the untouchable 'Children of God' of the lowest caste of India, but he schooled himself not to hate the wrongdoer. The power of his benignity grew stronger as his potential influence ebbed. He tried in the mood of the New Testament to love his enemies. Now he belongs to the ages."
Over two million people joined the five-mile long funeral procession that took over five hours to reach Raj Ghat from Birla House, where he had been assassinated. Gandhi was cremated in a funeral pyre.
In some cases the response to this death were less adulatory. The Dalit (untouchables) leader Ambedkar, who had long criticized Gandhi and Gandhi's ideas as primitive and wrong, had a response of relief after he heard the news of Gandhi's assassination. He remarked after a momentary silence, "My real enemy is gone; thank goodness the eclipse is over now".
Archibald Wavell, the viceroy and governor-general of British India for three years through February 1947, who had worked with Gandhi and Jinnah to find common ground, before and after accepting Indian independence in principle, remarked:
I was greeted with the news of Gandhi's assassination, an unexpected end for a very remarkable man. I never accepted him as having much of the saint in his composition but he was extremely astute politician. Whether he did more harm or good for India it would be hard to say, but Indians will have no doubt, and he certainly hastened the departure of the British, which was his life's aim. But he wrecked the plan of the Cabinet Mission which might possibly have secured a united India and saved the massacres. I do not believe that he really worked for an understanding with the Muslims, when his influence might have secured it. He was always the lawyer and the bania who would drive a hard bargain and then find some legal quibble to deprive his opponent of what he had seemed to gain. I always thought he [Gandhi] had more of malevolence than benevolence in him, but who am I to judge, and how can an Englishman estimate a Hindu? Our standards are poles apart, and by Hindu standards Gandhi may have been saint, by any standards he was a very remarkable man.
Riots erupted in Bombay (now Mumbai) on Gandhi's assassination, resulting in the deaths of more than 150 people.The Brahmin community in Maharashtra region bore the brunt of the riots with the looting and burning of Brahmin houses and businesses. The riots led to the internal migration of more than 5000 Brahmins from the villages to the cities and cut off that community from its rural roots.
A prior, unsuccessful attempt, to assassinate Gandhi occurred on 25 June 1934 at Pune. Gandhi was in Pune along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi, to deliver a speech at Corporation Auditorium. They were travelling in a motorcade of two cars. The car in which the couple was travelling was delayed and the first car reached the auditorium. Just when the first car arrived at the auditorium, a bomb was thrown, which exploded near the car. This caused grievous injury to the Chief Officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation, two policemen and seven others. Nevertheless, no account or records of the investigation nor arrests made can be found. Gandhi's secretary, Pyarelal Nayyar, believed that the attempt failed due to lack of planning and co-ordination.
Gandhi's assassination dramatically changed the political landscape. Nehru became his political heir. According to Markovits, while Gandhi was alive, Pakistan's declaration that it was a "Muslim state" had led Indian groups to demand that India be declared a "Hindu state".Nehru used Gandhi's martyrdom as a political weapon to silence all advocates of Hindu nationalism as well as his political challengers. He linked Gandhi's assassination to the politics of hatred and ill-will.
According to Guha, Nehru and his Congress colleagues called on Indians to honour Gandhi's memory and even more his ideals.Nehru used the assassination to consolidate the authority of the new Indian state. Gandhi's death helped marshal support for the new government and legitimize the Congress Party's control, leveraged by the massive outpouring of Hindu expressions of grief for a man who had inspired them for decades. The government suppressed the RSS, the Muslim National Guards, and the Khaksars, with some 200,000 arrests.
For years after the assassination, states Markovits, "Gandhi's shadow loomed large over the political life of the new Indian Republic". The government quelled any opposition to its economic and social policies, despite this being contrary to Gandhi's ideas, by reconstructing Gandhi's image and ideals.
Several books, plays and movies have been produced about the event.
Nathuram Vinayak Godse was a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi on 30 January 1948. He shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range. Godse was a member of the right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); he believed that Gandhi favoured the political demands of India's Muslims during the partition of India.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar, was an Indian independence activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and the formulator of the Hindutva philosophy.
Events in the year 1949 in India.
Godse is an Indian surname, and may refer to:
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar was the second Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Golwalkar authored the books Bunch of Thoughts and We, or Our Nationhood Defined.
The Chitpavan Brahmin or Kokanastha Brahmin is a Hindu Maharashtrian Brahmin community inhabiting Konkan, the coastal region of the state of Maharashtra in India. The community came into prominence during the 18th century when the heirs of Peshwa from the Bhat family of Balaji Vishwanath became the de facto rulers of the Maratha empire. Under the British Raj, they were the one of the Hindu communities in Maharashtra to flock to western education and they provided the bulk of social reformers, educationalists and nationalists of the late 19th century. Until the 18th century, the Chitpavans were held in low esteem by the Deshastha, the older established Brahmin community of Maharashtra region.
Gopal Vinayak Godse was the younger brother of Nathuram Godse and one of the conspirators in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948. He was the last among them to die and lived his last days in Pune.
Madan Lal Pahwa was one of the conspirators involved in assassinating Mahatma Gandhi. He came to India in 1947 as a refugee after the partition of India. The plight of refugees intensified his anger against Gandhi, the main leader of the Indian National Congress, and other Congress leaders. He tried to murder Gandhi on 20 January 1948 in a prayer meeting at Birla House New Delhi but failed in his attempt. Later when Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi on 30 January 1948, a case of attempt to murder was filed against Madan Lal. He was found guilty, and was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement.
Vishnu Ramakrishna Karkare, a Hindu Mahasabha activist was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in an attempt to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.
Shankar Kistaiya, also spelled as Shankar Kistayya, was an accused in Mahatma Gandhi's assassination case. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the lower court, but was acquitted by the High Court on appeal, given that he denied his involvement, the co-accused retracted their statements, and on the basis of the "benefit of the doubt".
Digambar Badge was one of the Indians arrested for the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. Badge turned approver and deposed as a prime prosecution witness. It was his confession that led to the prosecution case and charges against the others accused of conspiracy. Though he confessed to participating in the assassination plot, and admitted guilt, the prosecution granted him a pardon deal in exchange for his testimony against the others accused.
The Kapur Commission was a commission of inquiry of Mysore, India, into the murder conspiracy of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy is a two-act play written in the Marathi language. It has been written by Pradeep Dalvi. It is based on the book May It Please You Honour written by Gopal Godse. According to Karline McLain the play "enacts Godse's defense plea" and thus "explores the assassination of Gandhi and the trial of Godse from Godse's point of view.
The light has gone out of our lives is a speech that was delivered ex tempore by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, on January 30, 1948 following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi earlier that evening. It is often cited as one of the great speeches in history.
Dattatraya Sadashiv Parchure (1902–1985) was a doctor and a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. He was one of several people accused of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Initially sentenced to life imprisonment by a lower court, he was acquitted upon appeal by the Punjab High Court.
V. Kalyanam is an Indian freedom fighter and was Mahatma Gandhi's personal secretary during the last few years of Gandhi's life (1943–48). He joined the freedom struggle during Quit India Movement in 1942, and then worked with Gandhi till Gandhi's assassination. Kalyanam was just behind Gandhi when Nathuram Godse fired the shots. According to Kalyanam, Gandhi died instantly after being shot and never uttered "Hey Ram" as his last words. He was the first to inform Nehru and Patel about Gandhi's death.
Herbert Thomas "Tom" Reiner Jr. was an American diplomat who played a key role in capturing Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse. Reiner was among those present when Godse fatally shot Gandhi at an evening prayer meeting in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. Moments after the shooting, while the attending crowd was still in shock, Reiner rushed forward, grasping Godse by the shoulders, and restraining him until military and police personnel took him away. In the days following, Reiner's action was reported in newspapers around the world.
Assassination-related literature and the variance in its coverage:
Funeral, post funeral-rites and memorialization after Gandhi's assassination: