Sardar Patel, JP and Morarji knew that Mahatma Gandhi could be assassinated

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Special on death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

By Harigovind Vishwakarma
Just imagine, a unknown youth throw a bomb at a person with the intention of killing him, but the person luckily survived of the attack and the youth is caught on the spot. After the blast a person from the home city of the youth tells the leaders holding responsibility in the government that the youth had come with the intention of killing that person and, on the tenth day another youth kills the person at the same place. Now will the killing of that person be termed as a destiny or a big conspiracy of assassination? Of course, this act will be called organized crime, in which the leaders of the ruling party were indirectly involved and supporting to the killer to execute the murder of the person.

We are talking about the Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse on 30 January 1948 at Birla House in Delhi. In the same Birla House, where 10 days ago i.e., on 20th January, Madanlal Pahwa had exploded a bomb. Gandhiji survived the attack but Madanlal was nabbed. Madanlal had told Dr. Jagdish Jain, who taught Hindi at Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai after getting MA degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and PhD from Bombay University, on January 7 in Mumbai, that he was going Delhi to assassinate Gandhiji. Jagdish Jain did not take Madanlal seriously at the moment, as every Sindhi-Punjabi person used to talk about killing Gandhiji at the time of division of the country, but when Birla House exploded, Jagdish surprised and he alerted to the top Congress leaders in Mumbai as well as New Delhi before 30 January that Gandhiji might be assassinated. But despite that the security of Gandhiji was not beefed up and he was assassinated on 30 January at 5.17 pm.

It is clear from this fact that Mahatma Gandhi may have been assassinated by Nathuram Godse, but almost all the top Congressmen who were in the government at that time were indirectly involved in the conspiracy. Nathuram was hanged to the gallows, but the Congressmen involved in the conspiracy of killing were not hold responsible for the security lapses. It can also be a fact that after the partition of the country people have been angry with Gandhiji for his policies of appeasement and started hating him and wishing that Gandhiji should either die, or someone should kill him. Due to this state of mind, the security of Gandhiji was not strengthened and he was assassinated. Otherwise, had the Center and the Bombay government been alerted after receiving the information and had increased security, Gandhi’s assassination certainly could have been averted.

It is said that every person from the migrated Sindhi and Punjabi community, who lost loved ones or property after the partition of the country, used to say publicly at that time that he would shoot or kill Gandhiji. This resentment towards Gandhiji among the people was born due to his Muslim appeasement policy, because he was appealing to the Muslims not to leave the country despite the formation of the Islamic country of Pakistan due to his policy of appeasement. At that time, people all over the country believed that Gandhiji’s policy of non-violence was completely impractical, because due to this policy of non-violence, 30 lakh citizens of undivided India were killed and the accumulated business of several crore people was destroyed.

That is to say, Gandhiji’s non-violence had an adverse effect on not only the livelihood of crores of people but on the entire life and people lost everything in violence following the division People also believed that due to the appeasement policy of Gandhiji, the country had been divided. It is also a surprising fact that Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, even also opposed Gandhi’s appeasement policy. People would be surprised to know that Jinnah himself wondered why Gandhiji took so much interest in every small and big issues related to Muslims. Actually, in the beginning, Jinnah had huge respect for Gandhiji, but when Gandhiji started the Khilafat movement, Jinnah was astonished, because that movement was not related to Indian Muslims. It was a totally internal matter of the Turkey. At that time only fundamentalist Muslims like Ali brothers had started the Khilafat movement.

Today, just as radical Muslims shed tears for Rohingya Muslims and agitate in India, radical Muslims like the Ali brothers were fueling the Khilafat movement. Whereas at that time the Muslims had other problems, which were more important than the Khilafat movement and needed to be addressed immediately. But Gandhiji always believed his words to be true. To be honest, Gandhiji was a stubborn person of the highest order and did not listen to anyone before him. However, around 1946-48, people began to believe that if the partition of the country had come, then Gandhiji would be responsible for it. People used to annoy Gandhiji’s Muslim love in the same way as people today are annoyed by those who chant secularism.

It seems that people were so annoyed with Gandhiji policy that even after knowing that he was likely to be assassinated, his security was not beefed up and as a result, he was murdered at the same place where a bomb was threw at him 10 days ago. In fact, Madanlal Pahwa, who was displaced from Pakistan after the partition of the country, who was imprisoned for life in the Gandhi assassination case, was bloodthirsty for Gandhiji. On 20 January 1948, he detonated bomb near Gandhiji’s meeting place in the Birla House and was apprehended on the spot. Unfortunately, Nathuram ended life of Mahatma by firing three bullets at him on the chest on the evening of 30 January at the same place.

However, documents show that Gandhi became very unpopular in the country after independence on 15 August 1947 due to his Muslim appeasement policy and the partition of the country. In the name of experiment of celibacy, the talk of Gandhiji’s sleeping and bathing with naked girls in the ashram had spread. His acts were described as “abnormal and unnatural” by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Even other Congress leaders including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were cursing Gandhiji, but he did not listen to anyone before his tune. Especially when Pakistan invaded Kashmir, Patel issued an order on the morning of 12 January 1948 that the amount of 55 crores to be paid to Islamabad under the agreement was being withheld. Gandhiji, in protest against this decision, announced to start a fast unto death in the evening of the same day. Following the pressure built by Gandhiji, two days later, India had to pay Rs 55 crore to Pakistan. Due to this, not only the government and the Congress, but the whole country became angry with Gandhiji.

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The news of Gandhiji’s announcement of starting a fast unto death reached the office of ‘Hindu Rashtra’, a newspaper published from Pune on the evening of January 12, through a news agency. Narayan Apte alias Nana, who was hanged along with Godse for his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi, was the publisher of the newspaper and Nathuram Godse was the editor. Probably at the same time Nathuram decided to assassinate Gandhiji. Because the next day he made his friend Nana Apte’s wife Champutai Apte and younger brother Gopal Godse’s wife Sindhutai Godse as the nominees for his two insurance policies of Rs 3 thousand each. His decision went against Nana Apte and Gopal Godse and both got trapped in the Gandhi assassination.

The trial of the Gandhi assassination case took place in a special court set up in the Red Fort premises. Dr Jagdish Jain was a key witness in the case and his testimony took place on 4 and 5 August 1948. According to document related to trail of the case Dr Jagdish Jain told the court, “Madanlal Pahwa, who was later found to be involved in the conspiracy and sentenced to life imprisonment in Gandhi murder case, came to my house on 7 January 1948 and told that he, along with some people, was going to assassinate Gandhiji. I did not give much importance to his words, as at that time every Sindhi-Punjabi person used to talk about Gandhi-murder. But after three days when Madanlal met me again and told that he had been assigned the task of blasting Gandhiji’s meeting, So that he could be killed. Hearing this, I was too disturbed.”

Jagdish Jain further told the court, “On January 15, Madanlal went to Delhi. On January 17, Jayaprakash Narayan’s speech was held at Xavier’s College in Mumbai. I tried to meet him and tell him about the conspiracy, but because of the huge crowd around him, I couldn’t tell the detailed story, but informed him about the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate Gandhiji in Delhi. When I read the news of Birla Bhawan explosion and Madanlal’s arrest in the newspapers on the morning of January 21, 1948, the news really cut the ground from under my feet. I telephoned Sardar Patel to tell his about the conspiracy but failed. Tried to meet Congress leader SK Patil in Mumbai, but could not meet him. I met Chief Minister BG Kher at the Secretariat on 22nd January at 4 pm. Then Home Minister Morarji Desai was also present there. I told the plan of Madanlal to both of them.”

However, the testimony of Morarji Desai in the Gandhi murder case took place on 23, 24 and 25 August 1048. Confirming Jagdish Jain’s statement, he said, “On January 22, 1948, before leaving for Ahmedabad, I called Deputy Commissioner of Police Jamshed Dorab Nagarwala at 8 pm at Bombay Central Railway Station and ordered him to arrest to Vishnu Karkare. I informed this to JS Bharucha, the then (first Indian) police commissioner of Mumbai. The next day on January 23, I met Sardar Patel in the morning and gave him all the information and told that a conspiracy was being hatched to assassinate Gandhiji and Vishnu Karkare has been ordered to be arrested.”

That is to say, apart from leaders like Sardar Patel, Jai Prakash Narayan, BG Kher and Morarji Desai, JD Nagarwala, who investigated Gandhi’s assassination, and Delhi Police Commissioner DW Mehra and Deputy Superintendent Jaswant Singh got information about the alleged conspiracy to assassinate Gandhiji. Despite this, the security of Birla House remained lax. That is why Judge of special court Atmaram wrote in his decision, “I am bringing to the cognizance of the Central Government the matter of laxity in the investigation of the police during 20 to 30 January 1948. After Madan’s arrest on January 20, his details and conspiracy information were obtained from Jagdish Jain by Police and Home Minister Morarji Desai. It is a pity that if the Bombay and Delhi police had shown promptness in time and had not been lax in the investigation, perhaps the tragic incident of Gandhi-assassination could have been avoided.”

In fact, Nathuram had admitted in the confessional statement that he was the only one who killed Gandhiji. Gopal Godse also had mentioned this episode in his Marathi book ‘Gandhi Vadh Aani Me’. According to the statement of Nathuram Godse mentioned in the record of Gandhi murder case, Nathuram Godse said, “I reached the gate of Birla House at 4.50 pm on Friday and successfully managed to enter to the premises with my revolver loaded with six bullets at 4.55 pm. I was very surprised when the guards posted at the gate did not search me. I hid myself in the crowd in the premises, so that no one would suspect me. At 5.10, Gandhiji came out with his hands on the shoulders of two girls (Manu and Abha). I stood and waited with the people standing by the stairs of the prayer site on the way. When Gandhi reached near me, I put my hand in my pocket and opened the safety catch of the revolver. Now I only needed three seconds to do my job. As soon as Gandhiji came in front of me, I first bowed to him with folded hands for his glorious service to the country and then pushed away to both the girls from him with the aim of eliminating him to cause harm to the country and Hindus and then fired 3 bullets in his chest. I was about to fire only two shots but in an excited state the third shot also fired and Gandhiji fell down saying ‘Ah’. Gandhiji did not pronounce ‘Hey Ram’.”

Nathuram further said, “Actually, as soon as my bullet fired, 10-12 people walking with Gandhiji had started running away to save their own lives. Earlier I thought that as soon as I kill Gandhiji, the security forces will shoot dead me on the spot, but here everyone was terrorized and ran away. Even when I raised my hands in the posture of surrender, no one was getting the courage to come near to me. Even the policeman did not dare. I myself shouted police-police, come and arrest me. I was feeling very excited. After killing Gandhiji, I held my hand up with my revolver for a while in air. I wanted someone to arrest me. But none of the cops present there had the courage to come near me and arrest. Finally, I signaled with my eyes to a soldier to take my revolver. After five to six minutes that he was convinced that I would not shoot him. In state-of-terror he slowly came to me and grabbed my hand. After that almost everyone started attacking me with stick and hand.

However, on the orders of DSP Jaswant Singh, in charge of Tughlaq Road Police Station Daswant Singh and some other policemen took Nathuram to the police station. An FIR was written of murder of Gandhiji at around quarter to ten in the night. It was written by Munshi Diwan Dalu Ram of the police station. The police got Nathuram’s medical done and the doctor declared him fit. This means that Nathuram had assassinated Gandhi consciously. At 5:45 pm, when Gandhiji’s death was reported from All India Radio and said that a person named Nathuram Godse had killed Bapu, the whole country was shocked as to why the Marathi youth did this work, as people feared that any Punjabi or Sindhi person can kill Gandhiji.

Godse, who held Gandhiji responsible for the partition of the country, actually wanted a healthy discussion on the Gandhism with Gandhi followers so that he could tell how much damage was done to this country by Gandhism. The next morning after Gandhi’s assassination, Gandhi’s youngest son, Devdas Gandhi went to the lockup of Tughlaq Road police station to meet Godse. Godse told him, “I am very sorry that you have lost your father today because of me. I feel that it is like a thunderbolt on your family. Actually, I killed Gandhiji not for personal but for political reasons. If you give me time, I would like to tell why I killed Gandhiji?” Actually, Godse wanted to put his side by discussing with Gandhi followers, that is why he also appealed to Gandhiji’s third son Ramdas Gandhi to discuss on the matter. Ramdas had agreed to meet him, but he was not allowed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Two greats Gandhian Acharyas Vinoba Bhave and Kishori Lal Mashruwala had tried to discuss with Nathuram to know his side, but even from above, permission was not granted to them. Thus, Nathuram’s desire to debate Gandhism remained unfulfilled.

However, eight people, including Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte, Madanlal Pahwa, Gopal Godse, Vishnu Karkare, Vinayak Savarkar, Shankar Kistaiya and Digambar Badge, were made accused in the Gandhi assassination case. Due to lack of evidence, the court acquitted Vinayak Savarkar. Shankar Kistaiah was acquitted by the High Court. Gopal Godse, Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu Karkare were sentenced to life imprisonment. Digambar Badge turned as police witness. On the basis of Digambar Badge testimony, Nathuram and Nana were hold guilty and awarded capital punishment and both of them hanged in the morning of 15 November 1949 in Ambala Jail.

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