Who Killed Gandhi?
Godse was not the killer – he was just an instrument of a much bigger conspiracy. There were as many as five unsuccessful attempts on Gandhi’s life, last one barely 10 days before the fateful day. After the last attempt, there was enough information to nab Godse and his accomplices, but it remains a mystery why the police did not act. After the murder, police were lax in acknowledging, leave alone following up on, the tell tale evidence. So much so that the trial Justice Atma Charan closed his judgment stating that the Police should have been named as one of the accused. It is as if everybody, including the ruling Congress Party, was content to avenge one death with two lives – and were not too eager to pursue the case. The Jivanlal Kapur commission proved to be a redeeming development, however the current ruling dispensation is working on removing this report from the official records.
Today (Nov 6, 2016) I heard Tushar Gandhi in Pune. His great grandmother, Kasturba, died in Pune and the murderers of his great grandfather hailed from Pune. It was an emotional speech, with startling facts. What I picked up from his talk is shocking enough that I am eager to read his well researched book, Let’s kill Gandhi. (He was in Pune to release a book, written by a young activist Sanket Munot, countering widespread misconceptions about Gandhi.)
Here are some of the notes I made during the talk.
First attempt on Gandhi’s life happened in 1934 when he was in Pune to accept civic felicitation. A hand bomb was hurled at his car. The case was closed with no arrests. Later, a forensic report confirmed that the hand bomb used in 1934 was from the same batch of hand bombs that were thrown at a Muharram procession in Ahmednagar in 1946. These bombs were recovered from the residence of Vishnu Karkare, the convict in Gandhi’s murder.
Madan Lal Pahwa was arrested after he hurled a hand bomb, on January 20th during Gandhiji’s prayer meeting. This was just 10 days before Gandhi was killed. Pahwa did lead the police to the hotel room where the kingpins of the conspiracy had met with him. There was tell tale evidence, including laundered clothes bearing initials NVG (Nathuram Vinayak Godse) – but Police did not act. Ashutosh Lahiri (?), who was ready to depose was not interrogated. When questioned by the Court, the police chief infamously gave the explanation that they did not expect the conspirators to revert so quickly. (“They were not playing cricket” -was the actual statement!)
Godse and his accomplice Apte were complete novices when it came to firearms. Just two days before Godse killed Gandhi, it is a mystery how he acquired one of the most sophisticated revolvers of that time – a Beretta. It was apparently surrendered by an Italian troupe to a General in King of Gwalior Jiwaji Rao Shinde’s army. The arms dealer Sharma, from whom Godse acquired it, was never interrogated enough on this count.
Godse was not known to be good with words. He did edit a few journals, but his style was aggressive and never persuasive enough. Godse’s argument in the appeals court, that is available on the net, was so powerful that one of the Justices hearing the case remarked that had the people in the Court turned jury, they would have acquitted Godse. Tushar Gandhi claims that there was no way Godse could have drafted that speech – he believes that it was work of one of the most gifted litterateurs, V D Savarkar.
On the afternoon of January 30, pamphlets – allegedly printed in Amritsar – were distributed in Alwar, Rajsthan, announcing death of Gandhi. Gandhi was killed in the evening.
Digambar Badge, the bodyguard of Veer Savarkar turned approver; and his deposition was considered fit to hang two convicts. Tushar Gandhi claimed that, it is intriguing why the evidence he shared regarding Veer Savarkar was rejected by the Court. However, Justice Jivanlal Kapur came down harshly on Savarkar in his report, terming his acquittal purely technical.
And finally, he talked about the bogey that Gandhi forced Indian Government to give Rupees 55 Crore to Pakistan; and that he was the one responsible for the partition.
When Mountbatten came back with the proposal for partition, it was only Gandhi who opposed it. No organization, RSS and Hindu Mahasabha included, agitated against it. Nehru and Patel did not like the idea – but they accepted it as a “practical” step. Later Nehru confessed that he did not anticipate the terrible human cost that the partition entailed – and that only Gandhi saw it, but to no avail. Gandhi confided to Pyarelal that neither the leader who was like a son to him, nor the one who claimed to be his inheritor, was ready to listen to Gandhi’s counsel. They were in tearing hurry to get the power and overlooked the consequences that proved to be too bloody – only comparable to the holocaust.
Gandhi’s last fast was NOT for pressing Indian Government to give the promised Rs. 55 Crore to Pakistan. It was for peace. It is a fact that the newly born Indian nation was almost bent on renegading on it’s very first commitment as a sovereign nation. The brutal violence that erupted post partition had the whole country boiling with rage against Pakistan and the then Government did not want to be seen as Pakistan’s benefactor. But they also knew that not keeping the promise meant a huge loss of credibility for the new born country. Gandhi’s fast turned out to be a good excuse to do the right thing, but that also meant turning the ire of the nation towards Gandhi. Note that Gandhi DID NOT end his fast on this announcement. His fast was not for the 55 Crore – it was for peace.
And Godse claimed that Gandhi’s fast for giving money to Pakistan was the last straw.