This article is authored by Deepika Singhania, a guest author of CA Rocks !!!. You can also get your article published on CA Rocks !!! by mailing them to us at email@example.com
You can also download this article in PDF format: Click here
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (often called Mahatma Gandhi) was assassinated on 30 January 1948, shot at point-blank range by Nathuram Godse. Since 1934, there had been five unsuccessful attempts to kill Gandhi. Gandhi was outside on the steps of a building where a prayer meeting was going to take place. He was surrounded by a part of his family and some followers when three gunshots killed him.
How well do you know the Mahatma Gandhi ? 10 Facts
1. Gandhi’s nickname at school was Moniya. 2. Mahatma Gandhi was only 13 years old when he married the 14-year-old Kasturba Gandhi. 3. Between 1893 and 1914 Mahatma Gandhi lived in South Africa where he was practicing law. 4. Gandhi was a vegetarian and undertook long fasts for self purification and social protests. 5. While at university in England, Gandhi was elected to the vegetarian society executive committee of which he founded a local chapter. 6. While studying in England, Gandhi tried learning dancing and playing the violin to try to live more like an Englishman, but later gave it up for a simple living. 7. Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 5 times between 1937 and 1948 but never won it. 8. Gandhi undertook a vow of celibacy in 1906. 9. In 1921 Gandhi discarded his clothes and shaved his head and wore only a loin cloth. 10. Gandhi had four sons; Harilal, Manilala, Ramdas and Devdas.
After a previous failed attempt to assassinate Gandhi at the Birla House, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte returned to Pune via Mumbai (Bombay). With the help of Dr. Dattatraya Parchure and Gangadhar Dandavate, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte purchased a Beretta and reached Delhi on 29 January 1948, checking into the retiring room No. 6 at Delhi Railway Station.
Day of assassination
Godse killed Gandhi on January 30, 1948. He approached Gandhi on the way to a prayer meeting and bowed. A girl accompanying Gandhi told Godse, “Brother, Bapu is already late” and tried to put him off, but Godse pushed her aside and shot Gandhi three times at point-blank range in the chest with a .38 Beretta semi-automatic pistol
Download some unseen pics of Mahatma Gandhi ji: Click here
Gandhi’s last words
The First Information Report (FIR) filed by Shri Nand Lal Mehta shows that the last words of Gandhi were Hey Raam. There has been no explanation of why he was not rushed to the hospital and was instead taken to Birla House, where he died later.
Trial and justice
All of those involved in the crime were arrested and tried in a trial that attracted plenty of media attention. Those convicted were either executed or served their complete sentences.
On 25 June 1934, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was in Pune along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi, to deliver a speech at Corporation Auditorium. They were traveling 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.
The second attempt on the life of Mohandas Gandhi may not have been an attempt to assassinate as much as a demonstration of anger by an angry young man who tried to bow down to Gandhi and was rejected. In May 1944, Gandhi was sent from Aga Khan Palace prison and soon after he contracted malaria. On the advice of doctors, he took a vacation to Panchgani, a hill station near Pune. During his stay at Panchgani, Gandhi was staying at Dilkush Bungalow. This group of 15-21 young men came to Panchgani after realizing that Gandhi was staying there. This young crowd, led by Nathuram Godse.
However, by evening, during the prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse rushed towards Gandhi with a dagger shouting anti-Gandhi slogans. He was unable to reach Gandhi as he was overpowered by Mani Shankar Purohit (proprietor of Surti Lodge, Pune) and D. Billare Guruji of Satara (who later became a Congress legislator from Mahabaleshwar). The documentary evidence of this attack can be found in the depositions made by Mani Shankar Purohit and D. Billare Guruji before the Kapur Commission set up to investigate the assassination of Gandhi. However, the Kapur Commission rejected this theory as many of the close associates of Gandhi were not present during that time.
The third attempt was also a demonstration. However, people who testified before the Kapur Commission referred it as an attempt at violence. Mohandas Gandhi began his talks with Mohammad Ali Jinnah on 9 September 1944 which lasted for 14 days. While leaving for Mumbai from Sevagram Ashram, a group of Hindu activists stopped him. They did not want him to go to Mumbai to hold talks with Jinnah, however, these protesters were stopped by volunteers of the ashram. The leader of this group, Nathuram Godse, was again found in possession of a dagger. The policeman who found the dagger then looked up to him and joked, “Why do you want to kill Gandhi? Let’s leave it to the leaders themselves… perhaps (Veer) Savarkar will finish off the job!” At which Godse retorted, “Gandhi does not require such an honor. Even the jamadar (sweeper) is enough for that.” This incident has also been portrayed in the film Gandhi by Sir Richard Attenborough. However, it is not portrayed as an attempt to murder but as a peaceful demonstration in which the demonstrators were waving black flags.
On 20 January 1948, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistaiya, Digambar Badge, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse, Nathuram Godse, and Narayan Apte came to Birla Bhavan (aka Birla House) in Delhi to carry out another attack on Mahatma Gandhi and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Except for Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu Karkare, everyone else reached the venue through the rear entrance in a cab. Madanlal Pahwa tried to bribe Choturam, the driver at Birla Bhavan, to let him go behind the podium to take pictures of Gandhi. However, Choturam became suspicious and asked Madanlal Pahwa why he needed photographs from behind, and inquired about the absence of a camera. Madanlal Pahwa instead left, making Choturam think he was going back to the taxi; however, he placed a cotton ball enclosing a bomb on the wall behind the podium and ignited it. The bomb went off without creating any panic. The team had left after abandoning Madanlal Pahwa.
On interrogation, Madanlal Pahwa admitted that he was part of a seven member gang who wanted to kill Gandhi. The plan was that Madanlal Pahwa would explode a bomb as close to the podium as possible while Digambar Bagde or Shankar Kishtaiyya would shoot Gandhi in the head during the ensuing panic and stampede, using the chaotic situation to cover their escape. (Vishnu Karkare was to compound the chaos by hurling hand grenades.) Faced with Choturam’s suspicious attitude, Digambar Badge decided at the last-minute not to act, and instructed Shankar Kishtaiyya (his servant) to also stand down.
Later, Madanlal Phawa led the police to the Marina Hotel where Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte had been staying and also to Sharief Hotel where all other gang members had been staying. Everyone had left by that time and the police were only able to recover some letters and clothes which had the initials “NVG” on it. By this time they were able to ascertain that the members of that team were from Maharashtra; however they were not able to establish the identity and the involvement of Nathuram Godse.
During the Gandhi murder trial, Madanlal Pahwa was identified by Mrs. Sulochana Devi, who had come to Birla Bhavan in search of her three year old son (who used to play in the servant quarters). She was the fifteenth witness in the trial, and Surjeet Singh, the driver, was the fourteenth witness.