Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1948.
New Delhi, 30th January 1948: Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation was shot dead by an unidentified assassin today at 5:12 P.M. at the Birla House. Gandhiji was just leaving his room for attending his evening prayers after concluding a discussion with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
As soon as he reached up to the four steps leading to the prayer mandap, a young man, aged around 35, appeared before Gandhiji and offered greetings. Gandhiji returned the regards immediately to which the young man replied, “You are too late today for the prayer.” Gandhiji smiled and said, “Yes, I am.”
Within seconds of him uttering these words, the man pulled out his revolver and shot 3 bullets to Bapu’s frail body just below his heart and stomach.
The result was awry as the soul escaped the great leader’s body within minutes of the gunshot and the assassin made his exit. The medical aid supplied to him proved useless as an immediate blood loss so soon after his whole day fast made his death inevitable.
Many Cabinet Ministers, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Lord Mountbatten quickly arrived at the spot.
The assassin, dressed in Khaki pants and a tunic, was grabbed by the people who had come with Gandhiji to attend the prayers. He is taken by police in custody for investigation and his revolver has been seized.
Post-scriptum: The nation became fatherless as Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru announced to the world that, “the light has gone out of our lives”. The demise of Gandhiji was one of the biggest shocks for the nation and was surrounded by huge amount of controversy.
The assassin was identified as Nathuram Godse. Eight men were convicted in the murder trial that took place inside the Red Fort by a court constituted by the central government. Nathuram Godse and the co-conspirator Narayan Apte were hanged for murder of Gandhiji on November 15,1949.
The controversy continued for years surrounding the question as to why would any Indian want to kill the great ‘Father of the Nation’. The answer had its ties deep rooted in the omnipresent inclusion of politics in any propaganda of our country.
Nathuram was an active member of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha and ran a nationalist newspaper called Hindu Rashtra. On being asked why he shot Gandhiji, his reply was this,
“I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. I bear no ill will towards anyone individually, but I do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their policy, which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the presence of Gandhi.”
According to the book, “Freedom at Midnight”, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre detailed more on the conspiracy of Gandhiji’s assassination. They laid bare facts which prove that Gandhi’s assassination was the outcome of a larger conspiracy by Hindu fundamentalists to eliminate Gandhi from the political scene.
History can be seen differently by different people as the perception changes from person-to-person. Nathuram’s ideology behind taking away Gandhiji’s life is termed as respectable by some and bigotry by others.
In spite of that, India is an ever growing, independent, sound and successful nation. Sure we have our shortcomings but then no nation is perfect and we will forever be grateful to the sacrifices of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi without whom, the nation would probably be in shambles.
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