One bone-chilling incident of 30th January 1948, when Nathuram Godse arrived at Mahatma Gandhi's prayer meeting in Delhi without having been frisked, & in no time fired bullets at him, killing the Father of the nation who uttered "Hey Ram" as his last words. Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a nationalist man, assassinated India's most idolized leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This article will discuss the life of Nathuram Godse, why he assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, his trial and the controversies surrounding him. So, let’s get started.
Who was Nathuram Godse?
The 38-year-old activist was a right-wing Hindu Mahasabha member. He accused Gandhi of deceiving Hindus by being too cooperative towards Pakistan & pro-Muslim. Gandhi was even blamed for the bloodshed resulting in the partition of India into two dominions- the Republic of India & Pakistan, after independence in 1947.
What happened to the Nathuram Godse family?
Godse belonged to a Konkani Brahmin family in Baramati, Pune (Maharashtra); inspired by the nationalist ideals, he joined the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which was the ideological architect of India's ruling party BJP. Nathuram joined as a ground-level worker of RSS and later became the editor of a Marathi daily known as Agrani- Hindu Rashtra, in which Hindu Mahasabha leader 'Vinayak Damodar Savarkar' invested. After engaging in a dispute with RSS, he formed a separate Hindu nationalist organization known as “Hindu Rashtra Dal”.
Nathuram Godse’s younger brother Gopal Vinayak Godse (June 1919 – November 2005), was accused of being one of the conspirators in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination on 30 January 1948. Gopal was also the last to die and lived his last days in Pune.
What happened to Nathuram Godse?
Nathuram Godse was given a death sentence on November 8, 1949, by the trial court after the High Court upheld the decision. An accomplice, Narayan Apte, was also given the death sentence, and six others were sentenced to life in prison. Godse's hanging was executed on November 15, 1949. Nathuram Godse, in his statement, said that he was sad about Gandhi’s support for the Muslims and blamed him for India’s partition.
Nathuram Godse last words
He also felt that “Indian politics in the absence of Gandhi would surely be proved practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined. Still, the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan.”
The trial of Nathuram Godse
Godse was never guilty of his crime, instead, he believed that he saved the nation. He gave a 150-point statement claiming that Gandhi was the ‘Father of Pakistan’ instead of ‘Father of nation’.
To "try" the accused in the Gandhi murder, a special court was established inside the Red Fort. Eight people were found guilty in the subsequent murder trial, including Nathuram Godse and his accomplice Narayan Apte.
On November 15, 1949, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were executed by hanging for the murder of The Father of the Nation.
Nathuram Godse was quoted during the court case as saying:
"I do say that my shots were fired at the guy whose policies and action had brought misery and destruction to millions of Hindus," said the assassin.
Although I have no personal grudge for any particular person, I must admit that the current administration's stance was unfairly favorable to Muslims, and as a result, I had little regard for them. However, I could also see that Gandhi's presence was the only thing responsible for the policy.
One-fifth of the world's population, or almost 300 million Hindus, would naturally be free and well-off if their freedom and legitimate interests were to be secured.
But even after his conviction, Godse maintained his innocence. However, Godse's claims make no logical sense logically, and to some, they may merely reflect his animosity toward the secular point of view Gandhi used to follow.
Godse blamed Gandhi for separating the country into India and Pakistan and blamed him for providing Muslims with numerous unfair benefits. But if we adopt this viewpoint, we would inevitably come to the conclusion that anything beneficial to Muslims would be harmful to Hindus.
Before the 1975 release of their book, "Freedom At Midnight," Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins conducted a thorough research.
The 1975 book brought out many details about how the plot to kill Gandhi was conceived. The information provided in the book further demonstrates that Gandhi's murder was the result of a carefully thought-out plot to remove Gandhi from India's political landscape.
Controversies around Nathuram Godse
The Indian National Congress in 2010 published a volume marking 125 years of the party’s formation with the title “Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation”, wherein Godse’s connection with RSS and Hindu Mahasabha was enshrined regarding Gandhi’s murder. Reciprocating this, RSS strongly protested through a spokesperson named Ram Madhav, who claimed that Godse left RSS in the mid-1930s, long before Gandhi was killed. However, Godse’s family denies this claim. So, after five decades of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, RSS argued that there was no link with Godse.
Ultimately, after releasing Nathuram Godse’s book, “Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi”, in December 1993, Gopal Godse, in an interview with Frontline magazine, said: “All the [Godse] brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. We grew up in the RSS rather than in our own house. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become an intellectual worker in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because [Madhav Sadashiv] Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.”