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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gandhi vs Nathuram Godse * 79

Was the Killing of Gandhi by Godse justified?

Gandhi was shot dead by Godse in 1948. Sentiments in India are not entirely against Godse and many consider he did the right thing.


The Killing of Gandhi

History records that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse on 30 Jan 1948. Gandhi was on his way to a prayer meeting when Godse shot him at point blank range. Gandhi succumbed to his death soon after.
The question which begets an answer is as to why Godse shot Gandhi who appeared a relatively defenceless man. For this we have to look back to the turn of the century when Gandhi came back to India from South Africa.
Gandhi’s Dream
Gandhi had two dreams. Firstly he desired that India should not be partitioned and secondly he wished to be regarded as a great leader of both the Moslems and the Hindus. Unfortunately he failed on both counts as India was divided into two nations and the two nation theory and races was accepted by the Imperial power. The Moslem's as well as a sizable section of Hindus also accepted this. Secondly the Moslem's never recognized him as their leader despite all his endeavours. Thus he followed a policy of appeasement to the Muslims throughout his life but still ended up being classified as a Hindu leader.
Gandhi Vs Jinnah
The Moslem's preferred Jinnah as their leader and the few Moslem's who joined Gandhi had no popular base at all. Gandhi started the Khilafat Movement in the fond hope that Moslems would see in him their leader. Again during partition he decided to go on a fast to press the government of India to hand over 55 crores cash reserves to Pakistan which they claimed as their due. Suffice that even Nehru was opposed to this.
Partition 1947
The period up to and just after partition was a terrible period. Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan lost their loved ones in the partition riots. Hindu women were raped in front of their husbands and young girls were abducted. Trains arrived from the west laden with dead bodies and people fleeing the killers were set upon with a brutality that just cannot be described.
One million refugees entered Delhi distraught and traumatized, unable to figure out why their lives had been shattered in a gruesome manner. Obviously they could not understand the rationale behind protecting the Muslims in Delhi. What left them aghast was Gandhi's insistence that Hindu and Sikh refugees should be sent back to Pakistan. It didn't make sense
The Result
All this lead to one solution -the assassination of Gandhi. His killers were Hindus and along with Nathuram Godse the conspirators were Narayan Apte, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse, Madanlal Pahwa and Digambar Badge. The historic trial for murdering Gandhi was held in Delhi's Red Fort. The trial captured the imagination of the nation, unleashing sympathy and hate for the conspirators in equal measure. Badge, who had turned approver was openly spat upon and looked down by all and sundry.
Pictures of Nathuram Godse, Apte and their accomplices during the trial show them as remarkably relaxed, unconcerned about the imminent death sentence. At the end Godse and Apte were hanged and the others were all awarded life imprisonment. They never expressed any regret.
Last Word
Gandhi's actions did gross act injustice to the people of India and showed callous disregard for the sentiments of millions of refugees. If figures have any meaning nearly half-a-million people were butchered and 12 million were rendered homeless. Can it justify Godse's action? The people will have to draw their own conclusion from what I have written.