Nathuram Godse- Man who killed the Mahatma (PART II)

After reading the finishing statement in court by Nathuram in the first part, hardly anyone can claim that he was out of his mind. This assassination was carried out with a clear objective and cold bloodedly. What surprised me the most is, neither did he try to flee from the scene nor did he appeal into any higher court of law for abolishing himself from the capital punishment…!

If Gandhiji’s killer would have been illiterate, greedy, amateur or confused, people who had and have been selling ‘Brand Gandhi’ so effectively, would’nt have been so angry. They would have been sad, but not angry. Brand Gandhi would not have been tarnished. The problem was, all the accused were well informed, literate, patriots and were eloquent speakers!

“Doctor! Please conduct a medical exam. Please tell me if my heart beat, pulse etc. are fine. Kindly record them in my file.
People will surely call me insane or lunatic. I hope i dont get classified as insane. Because in that case, authorities will have to show mercy based on my mental condition. It is also possible that defence attorneys try to prove my insanity. This deed deserves capital punishment and i am ready to accept it.”

These were the first words which he said to a doctor while undergoing a primary check-up after being arrested on the day of assassination. Eye-witnesses quote that he first pushed away a girl who was standing near Mahatma. After being fired thrice by an automatic revolver, Gandhi fell down. The entire arena was shocked. People froze and nobody knew what to do. He saw a policeman nearby, who was afraid to come near him. He shouted with his hands in air ‘Police Police’, but nobody came. He then signalled the policeman to come near him. He has just killed Gandhi and could have killed another mere mortal. It was very obvious why the official was still hesistant to come near him. Godse handed over his weapon. It was only after that somebody held his hand from behind and hit him with a rod. Later on he said in court,

“I did not want anybody to think that i attempted to run away. If i would have thrown away the weapon, people might have thought that i want to surrender and beg for mercy. Even this accusation was not acceptable to me. I did not wish to harm anybody else. I just wanted to handover the weapon myself and be arrested by police.”

Let us see what was the atmosphere of India in the era of Gandhi’s murder.

Last few months were spent in high level talks with newly formed state of Pakistan over many issues. ‘Pakistan’, who even until a year ago was an integral part of India. Despite the calls from ‘Muslim League’ and ‘the minority community’, people of India never dreamed that they would attain freedom at such a high cost. One-third of our nation was given away as charity to a few people who thought they could not survive with us. Suddenly, we were a nation of weaklings who could not defend there territory from a few fanatics. And above all our people. From Kolkata to Lahore, blood was shed. Only Anybody alive from those days will be able describe the agony and pain of people. An estimated one million people were killed during the partition, and more than 10 million fled their homes: Hindus and Sikhs pouring into India, Muslims heading in the other direction, to Pakistan. Refugee camps were set from Punjab to Delhi and many other parts of INDIA.

Inspite of all this, people in power were describing it by lofty words like, “freedom attained by Non-violence” and “The power of Satyagrah”!!!

Gandhiji no-doubt had worked a lot for our nation, but his myopic viewpoints and appeasement of Muslims apparently led to the loss of Territory, Lives and self-confidence of people of India. It was the mettle of revolutionaries like Veer Sawarkar and Shaheed Bhagat Singh which forced him to adopt a policy of ‘Total Independence’. Until then Congress was fighting for ‘Dominion Status’, Independence was nowhere to be seen on the radar. Thank God for the Nazis and Hitler. Without the second world war, Indian gaining Independence in 1947 was next to impossible.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the deputy prime-minister of India. During partition, India had agreed to give Rs. 55 crore to pakistan. India had agreed to pay the dues of states falling under Pakistan which the later could return acccording to its own convinience after 4 years. But at the same time Pakistan was aiding tribals to infiltrate kashmir. So the 55 crore would have directly gone against India. There are only two ways of extinguishing a fire. Either you directly throw water over it, or you cut the supply of oxygen. India did the right thing by cutting the oygen supply while our soldiers where bravely countering the enemies on the front. It denied to give the money till Pakistan sorted out the matter.

We were therefore fully justified in providing against aggressive actions in regard to kashmir by postponing the implementation of the agreement. We have made it clear to Pakistan government more than once that we stand by the agreement which we reached. The agreement does not bind the govt. of India to any fixed date for payment and we cannot reasonably be asked to make the payment of cash balances to Pakistan when an armed conflict with its forces is in progress and threatens to assumeeven a more dangerous character, which would be likely to destroy the whole basis of the financial agreement and would endanger other parts of the agreement, such as agreement of taking over of debt, division of stores etc.
-Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
(Indian Information dated 2-2-1948)

Gandhiji was in delhi those days. He used to meet the politicians and authorities quiet often. He did not appreciate Indian govt.’s decision. India encircling Pakistan was against his principle of Non-violence. He tried so that people in power revert back there decision, but was not successful. On 12-01-1948, during his prayer-speech, he went on to say-

“Many a times, an instance occurs when the priest of Non-violence (अहिंसा का पुजारी) has to fast in order to show resentment towards injustice. He does that only when he has no other way out. Such moment has arrived for me it seems.”
Dilli diary,
Navjivan Prakashan Mandir,
Ahmedabad, Page no.- 344

Gandhiji’s decision to fast made Vallabhbhai Patel to leave Delhi and go to Mumbai. This instance has been quoted by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in his book. He started his ‘Fast unto Death’ on the next day. Beacuse Gandhiji drew respect from millions of Indians, Sardar Patel had to soften his stance. Govt. of India published the following note-

‘In view of the appeal made by Gandhiji to the nation, the govt. has decided to remove the one cause of suspicion and friction between the two states which consistently with national honour and interest, it is in their power to remove.’ ‘They make this spontaneous gesture is the earnest hope that it will help in producing an atmosphere of goodwill for which Gandhiji is suffering crucification of the flesh and there by lead this great servent of nation to end this fast and add still further to his unparalleled services to India.’ ‘The govt. has decided to implement immediately the financial agreementwith Pakistan in regard to the cash balances.’ ‘This decision is the govt.’s contribution, to the best of their ability, to the non-violent and noble effort made by gandhiji, in accordance with the glorious traditions of this country, for peace and goodwill.’

But as expected, India’s kind gesture was not sufficient to stop Pakistan. Even after being a stronger nation, we still lost half kashmir to Pakistan. Just because a man believed in the virtue of his principles and a few selfish people around him had made him believe those principles worked!!

But even more surprising was the fact that the man was hell bent for fasting untill death for a separate nation but never even thought of fasting for keeping the nation united! This last fast was the final nail for hot blooded revolutionaries like Nathuram and many others. Gandhiji’s policy was now very much hurting the nation even in the short run let alone the long run. Hindu-Muslim peace has not yet been achieved by us.

It will be important not to skip the fact that they were collecting weapons and supporting revolutionaries in Hyderabad too, where hindus were being tortured and killed in huge nos. everyday after 1947.

Nathuram and Nana Apte were the editors of a famous daily called ‘Hindu Rashtra’ which firmly believed in united India. Even before independence Hindu rashtra had been voicing there concerns over Gandhiji’s and congress’s ways since a long time. It was started in 1944 by Nathuram and Apte. Its articles were growing vicious day after day. Even after fractured independence, Hindu Rashtra continued to attack congress for its failure to secure the safety of Hindus coming from Pakistan.

Nana was a very good administrator and manager. He had a flamboyant personality opposite to the calm persona of Nathuram. Even after being sentenced to death, he wrote a book on ‘Administration’ of which the govt stopped the release. Teacher by profession, he had a huge fan following in his circle and had influenced many people with his clarity of thoughts.

Many other factors were playing in there minds while killing Gandhiji like uneven partition. The British gave away Pakistan more than there share of land. But more on that later.

The sentiments of common Indians can be guaged by the fact that after there execution, thousands of people made a queque to take home the ashes of the ones who understood there grief. Even policemen, many of whose kith and kin had been lost in the transition, had treated Nathu and Nana very well. Many unconfirmed reports say that some policemen once made an arrangement for him to flle the jail but were denied by the culprits themselves. While they were transferred in many jails, womenfolk brought edibles and hand-knit sweaters for them.

Justice Khosla goes on to note in his book,

‘The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse delivered by Nathuram Godse in his deference. He spoke for several hours discussing, in the first instance, the facts of the case and then the motive which had prompted him to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life……’ page-338

‘The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men were coughing and searching for there handkerchiefs. The asilence was accentuated and made was made deeper by the sound of occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough…’ page-234

On 15-11-1949, Nathuram and Nana Apte were taken out of there respective cells for the final journey. After loud slogans of ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘अखंड भारत अमर रहे’, both of them prayed aloud-

नमस्ते सदा वत्सले मातृभूमे,
त्वया हिन्दुभूमे सुखं वर्द्धितोहम,
महामंगले पुण्यभूमे त्वदर्थे,
पतत्वेष कायो नमस्ते नमस्ते!

Once the prison halls were filled with the reverberations of the shloka, the executioner pulled the lever and two brave men went to see life after death…