Posts Tagged ‘ Top Poem ’

My Favourite Song

Today, I wish to share lyrics of a Malayalam song with translation. This is one of my most favourite Malayalam song “Manushyan Mathangale Srushtichu”. The lyrics was written by Vayalar Ramavarma and through the lyrics, he took the dreams and despair of an entire generation, to transform generations that followed, into a philosophy of humanism and rationalism.

In 1973, Vayalar Ramavarma won the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for this song.  The film “Achanum Bhappayum” won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration and Dr. K. J. Yesudas won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for this song.

The song was composed by G Devarajan and it is considered one of his best compositions. The film was directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan and written by K. T. Muhammed. It stared K. P. Ummer, Jayabharathi, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi and Baby Sumathi in important roles.

Pallavi :-

Manushyan mathangale srushtichu,
Mathangal daivangale srushtichu,
Manushyanum, mathangalum, daivangalum koodi,
Mannu panguvechu, Manasu panguvechu.
Manushyan mathangale srushtichu…

English Translation:
Man created religion,
Religions created God,
Man, religions and Gods together,
Divided the land, Divided the hearts.
Man created religion…

1st Charanam :-

Hinduvaayee, Musslamaanaayee, Christianiyaayi,
Nammale kandaalariyaathaayee,
Lokham bhranthaalayamaayee,
Aayiram aayiram maanava hrudhayangal aayudha purakalaayee.
Dhaivam theruvil marikkunnu,
Chekuthaan chirrikunnu.

English Translation:
We became Hindus, we became Muslims and we became Christians,
We have become unrecognisable,
World has become a lunatic asylum,
Thousands and thousands of human hearts became armories.
While God is dying on the streets,
Devil is having his last laugh.

2nd Charanam :-

Sathyamevide? Soundaryamevide? Swathanthryamevide?
Nammude raktha bandangalevide?
Nithya snehangalevide?
Aayiram yugangalil orikkal varaarulloru avathaarangal evide?
Manushyan theruvil marikkunnu,
Mathangal chirikkunnu.

English Translation:
Where is our truth? Where is our beauty? Where is our freedom?
Where are our blood relations?
Where are our eternal affections?
Where are the reincarnations that comes ones in thousand years?
While man is dying on the streets,
Religions are having their last laugh.

Gandhiji’s Assassination Trial

One of the most touching events in the heart of every Indian till date is the assassination of the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi in the morning of January 30, 1948, jolting the barely six months old country into complete despair.

Nathuram Godse, who shot Gandhiji in the chest three times at point blank range, is still considered as one of the most hated names in Indian History. With three bullets from a Beretta pistol, he wiped out the existence of a person who had been a legend and a person who had been a constant embodiment of peace and harmony, not only for India but the world at large.

In 1948, after India and Pakistan had already started a war over Kashmir. The government of India, led by Indian National Congress (INC), had withheld a payment of  Pakistan’s revenue share of Rs. 55 Crore, in January 1948. The argument was that it did not want to finance Pakistan, which was at war with at that time. Gandhi opposed the decision to freeze the payment, and went on a fast-unto-death on 13 January 1948 to pressure the newly formed Indian government to release the payment to Pakistan. The Indian government, yielding to Gandhiji, reversed its decision. Gandhiji assassins Nathuram Godse and his colleagues interpreted this sequence of events to be a case of him controlling power and hurting India. This was the third attempt on Gandhiji and all of the attempts are here.

It is important that one may take into account many unknown aspects of this most serious case, which shuddered the conscience of our nation as well as the entire world.

Red Fort Trial

The Gandhi murder trial opened in May 1948 in Delhi’s historic Red Fort, with Nathuram Godse the main defendant, and his collaborator Narayan Apte and six others as the co-defendants. A Special Court was constituted under notification No. 54/1/48-Political, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, dated 4-5-48, under sub section 10 and 11 of the Bombay Public Security Measures Act, 1947, as extended to the Province of Delhi. Justice Mr. Atma Charan, I.C.S. was appointed Special Judge. The Court held its sittings in a hall on the upper storey of a building in the Red Fort.

First Defendant, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, 37 was a Editor of Hindu Rastra, a Marathi Newspaper. He was born in a Maharashtrian Chitpavan Brahmin family from Pune and he never showed remorse for what he did. At 22 he joined the RSS – an organisation of which the avowed aim was to protect Hindu culture and solidarity. A few years later he shifted to Pune, and became Secretary of the local branch of the Hindu Mahasabha.

Second Defendant was Narayan Datatraya Apte, 34 came of a middle-class Brahmin family from Pune, Maharashtra. After taking his B.Sc. degree he became a school teacher at Ahmednagar. There he started a rifle club and joined the Hindu Rashtra Dal. He also had a stint in British Military service. He was Proprietor Savarkarite Group of Newspapers. Apte was taken it custody on February 14, 1948.

Third Defendant was Vishnu Ramkrishna Karkare, 37 from Ahmednagar, Maharashtra and had a chequered childhood and adolescence. His parents, unable to support him and bring him up. took him to an orphanage and, leaving him there, abandoned him. He ran away and earned his livelihood and did odd jobs in hotels and restaurants. He joined as a musician in a travelling troupe and finally started a restaurant of his own in Ahmednagar. He volunteered in relief efforts to religious riots (Noakhali). He became an active member of the Hindu Mahasabha, and was elected secretary of the district branch. Karkare was arrested on February 14, 1948.

Fourth Defendant was Madanlal K. Pahwa, 20 a Punjabi Hindu from Pakpattan (now in Pakistan) was staying at Ahmednagar refugee camp, Maharashtra. He ran away from school to join the Royal Indian Navy. When he failed to pass his examination he went to Pune and joined the Army. After a brief period of training he asked for, and was given, a release order. He went home to Pakistan, and when large-scale rioting started in 1947, he was evacuated to Ferozepore. Twenty members of the Pahwa clan who chose to travel by train met a tragic end at Dhundia. He tried in vain to secure employment, and his continued failures added to his sense of resentment. His father a Congressman had abandoned him. Haunted by the ghosts of the immediate past, Pahwa emerged as a reactionary. He joined the Hindu Rashtrya Sena headed by Dr D.S. Parchure and life revolved around a one-point agenda: “To fight the Mohammedans”. He was arrested on January 20, 1948 after the failed attempt on Gandhiji.

Fifth Defendant was Shankar Kistayya, 27 from Pune, Maharashtra, was the son of a village carpenter.  He had no schooling of any kind and remained illiterate. After an unsteady period of temporary jobs, he went to Pune and obtained employment as a rickshaw puller. He was a domestic worker employed by Digambar Badge. Shankar was arrested on February 6, 1948.

Sixth Defendant was Gopal Godse, 27 from Pune, Maharashtra. He was the brother of Nathuram Godse. After working for some time for the Hindu Mahasabha, he joined the Army as a member of the civilian personnel, and was appointed a store-keeper of the Motor Transport Spares Sub-Depot at Kirkee, a military station near Pune. Gopal Godse was taken into custody on February 5, 1948.

Seventh Defendant was Dr. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, 65 from Mumbai, Maharashtra. He was an author, barrister and historian. He joined a revolutionary body and was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. He was subsequently interned. On his release he joined and served as President of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to the time of trial. He exercised a great deal of influence over its deliberations and policies. His house Savarkar Sadan was visited by all Hindu leaders, and the meetings held there were viewed with an eye of suspicion by the authorities. He was arrested on February 5, 1948 and kept under detention in the Arthur Road Prison, Bombay.

Eighth Defendant was Dr. Dattatraya Sadashiv Parchure, 49 was a Brahmin from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. His father held a high post in the Education Department of the State and was a greatly respected individual. Parchure qualified as a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, and joined the State Medical Service. He was dismissed in 1934 and began practising privately. He took an active part in the activities of the Hindu Mahasabha was elected the Chief of the local Hindu Rashtrya Sena. Dr. Parchure was apprehended from his house in Gwalior on Feb 5, 1948.

Other defendants Gangadar S. Dadawate, Gangadar Jadhav and Suryadev Sharma were declared absconding from justice, and the case against them was heard in absentia.

Digambar R Badge (pronounced Bahdgay), turned approver. He was a Maratha from Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. He had a brief period of schooling, and long before the stage of matriculation could be reached he abandoned studies and went to Pune to earn his livelihood. He experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining permanent employment. As temporary job he collected funds for a charitable institution and went with a money-box from door to door, his remuneration being one-fourth of the collections made by him. He bought small quantities of knives, daggers and knuckle, sale of which didn’t need licence. Gradually he expanded the scope of his activities, and finally started a shop of his own. The Hindus residing near the border to the State to Hyderabad were particularly good customers. Badge, thus, came into contact with members of the Hindu Mahasabha and began attending the annual sessions of this body wherever they were held. In 1947 he enlarged his business, adding contraband  firearms and ammunition to his stock-in-trade. Badge was taken into custody on January 31,1948.

The Fateful Day

Manu Gandhi: Manuben Gandhi was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s great niece. Abhaben Chatterjee was a girl adopted by the Gandhis who would later marry Gandhi’s nephew, Kanu Gandhi. They were walking with Gandhi when he was assassinated. According to Last Glimpses Of Bapu, a memoir by Manuben Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi (Bapu) started the day in Birla Bhawan by listening to a recitation of the Bhagavad Gita.

Gandhiji had worked on a Congress constitution he wanted to publish in the Harijan, had his bath and massage at 8 a.m., and reprimanded Manuben to take care of herself since her health was not what it should be for an 18-year-old. Gandhi, aged 78, was weighed after his bath and was 49.7 kg (109.5 pounds). He then ate lunch with Pyarelalji discussing Noakhali riots. After lunch, states Manuben, Gandhi napped. After waking up, he had a meeting with Sardar (Patel) Dada. Two Kathiawar leaders wanted to meet him, and when Manuben informed Gandhi that they wanted to meet him, Gandhi replied, “Tell them that, if I remain alive, they can talk to me after the prayer on my walk”.

According to Manuben’s memoir the meeting between Sardar Dada and Bapu went past the scheduled time and Gandhi was about ten minutes late to the prayer meeting. He began his walk to the prayer location with Manuben to his right and Abha to his left, holding onto them as walking sticks. A stout young man in khaki dress,  pushed his way through the crowd bent over and with his hands folded. Manuben thought that the man wanted to touch Gandhi’s feet. She pushed the man aside saying, “Bapu is already ten minutes late, why do you embarrass him”.

Godse pushed her aside so forcibly that she lost her balance and the rosary, notebook, and Gandhi’s spittoon she was carrying, fell out of her hands. She recalled that as she bent to the ground to pick up the items she heard four shots, resounding booms, and she saw smoke everywhere. Gandhi’s hands were folded, with his lips saying, “Hei Ra…ma! Hei Ra…!”. Abhaben, wrote Manuben, had also fallen down and she saw the assassinated Gandhi in Abhaben’s lap.

Gandhi Smriti Delhi

The place Birla Bavan where Gandhiji was assassinated has been converted into a memorial called Gandhi Smriti. 

The pistol shots had deafened her, wrote Manuben, the smoke was very thick, and the incident complete within 3 to 4 minutes. A crowd of people rushed towards them, according to Manuben. The watch she was carrying showed 5:17 p.m. and blood was everywhere on their white clothes. Manuben estimated that it took about ten minutes to carry Gandhi back into the house, and no doctor was available in the meanwhile. They only had a first aid box, but there was no medicine in it for treating Gandhi’s wounds.  According to Manuben, the first bullet from the assassin’s seven-bore automatic hit the belly 3.5 inches to the right of the middle and 2.5 inches above the navel; the second hit the belly 1 inch away from middle, and the third 4 inches away to the right”.

Gandhi had suffered profuse blood loss. Everyone was crying loudly. In the house, Bhai Saheb had phoned the hospital many times, but was unable to reach any help. He then went to Willingdon Hospital in person, but came back disappointed. Manuben and others read Gita as Gandhi’s body lay in the room. Col. Bhargava arrived, and he pronounced Gandhi dead.

Herbert Reiner Jr.: According to some reports, while the attending crowd was still in shock, Gandhi’s assassin Godse was seized by Herbert Reiner Jr, a 32-year-old, newly arrived vice-consul at the American embassy in Delhi. According to an obituary for Reiner published in May 2000 by The Los Angeles Times, Reiner’s role was reported on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

According to W. K. Stratton (1950), an American writer, Reiner had reached Birla House after work, arriving fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the prayer meeting at 5 p.m. on January 30, 1948, and finding himself in a relatively small crowd. Although there were some armed guards present, Reiner felt that the security measures were inadequate, especially in view of an attempted bomb explosion at the same location ten days before. By the time Gandhi and his small party reached the garden area a few minutes after five, the crowd had swelled to several hundred, which Reiner described as comprising “schoolboys, girls, sweepers, members of the armed services, businessmen, sadhus, holy men, and even vendors displaying pictures of ‘Bapu'”. At first, Reiner had been at some distance from the path leading to the dais, but he moved forward, explaining later, “An impulse to see more, and at a closer range, of this Indian leader impelled me to move away from the group in which I had been standing to the edge of the terrace steps”.

As Gandhi was walking briskly up the steps leading to the lawn, an unidentified man in the crowd spoke up, somewhat insolently in Reiner’s recollection, “Gandhiji, you are late”. Gandhi slowed down his pace, turned toward the man, and gave him an annoyed look, passing directly in front of Reiner at that moment. But no sooner had Gandhi reached the top of the steps, than another man, a stocky Indian man, in his 30s, and dressed in khaki clothes, stepped out from the crowd and into Gandhi’s path. He soon fired several shots up close, at once felling Gandhi.

A BBC correspondent Robert Stimson described what happened next in a radio report filed that night: “For a few seconds no one could believe what had happened; every one seemed dazed and numb. And then a young American who had come for prayers rushed forward and seized the shoulders of the man in the khaki coat. That broke the spell… Half a dozen people stooped to lift Gandhi. Others hurled themselves upon the attacker… He was overpowered and taken away”. Others, as well, described how the crowd seemed paralysed until Reiner’s action.

Robert Trumbull of The New York Times, who was an eyewitness, described Reiner’s action in a front-page story on January 31, 1948. The assassin was seized by Tom Reiner of Lancaster, Mass., a vice consul attached to the American Embassy and a recent arrival in India… Mr. Reiner grasped the assailant by the shoulders and shoved him toward several police guards. Only then did the crowd begin to grasp what had happened and a forest of fists belabored the assassin…

According to Frank Allston of Chicago Tribune, Reiner stated that Godse stood nearly motionless with a small Beretta dangling in his right hand and to my knowledge made no attempt to escape or to take his own fire… Moving toward Godse I extended my right arm in an attempt to seize his gun but in doing so grasped his right shoulder in a manner that spun him into the hands of Royal Indian Air Force men, also spectators, who disarmed him. I then fastened a firm grasp on his neck and shoulders until other military and police took him into custody.

Murder Weapon

The assassination was carried out with a 9mm Beretta, automatic pistol bearing a serial number 606824. The gun was manufactured in 1934 by an Italian Beretta Pistolcompany.

In 1935, Italy’s Mussolini’s army attacked Africa’s Ethiopia, and one of the senior officer used that gun. In 1941, after Italy surrendered to the British Army, the gun came to Gwalior Infantry. The Commander General V. V. Joshi took this gun as a trophy. Somehow, this gun came in hands of Jagdishprasad Goyal, a local weapon dealer, who sold the gun for Rs. 500, to Nathuram Godse.

FIR

First Information of a Cognisable Crime Reported under Section 154, Cr.P.C at Tughlak Road Police Station. The complainant was Mr. Nand Lal Mehta, son of Mr. Natha Lal Mehta, Indian, Building Lala Suraj Prasad, M Block, Connaught Circus.

The FIR was written in Urdu with Persian words. Image courtesy : http://kiranbedi.com/

Here is the verbatim translation of the FIR extracted verbatim from Printed Record of Mahatma Gandhi Murder case Volume III. QuoteStatement of Shri Nand Lal Mehta, son of Shri Natha Lal Mehta, Indian, resident of Connaught Circus, Building Lala Sarju Prasad

“Today I was present at Birla House. Around ten minutes past five in the evening, Mahatma Gandhi left his room in Birla House for the Prayer Ground. Sister Abha Gandhi and sister Sanno Gandhi were accompanying him. Mahatma was walking with his hands on the shoulders of the two sisters. Two more girls were there in the group. I alongwith Lala Brij Kishan, a silver merchant, resident of No. 1, Narendra Place, Parliament Street and Sardar Gurbachan Singh, resident of Timar Pur, Delhi were also there. Apart from us, women from the Birla household and two-three members of the staff were also present. Having crossed the garden, Mahatma climbed the concrete steps towards the prayer place. People were standing on both the sides and approximately three feet of vacant space was left for the Mahatma to pass through. As per the custom the Mahatma greeted the people with folded hands. He had barely covered six or seven steps when a person whose name I learnt later as Narayan Vinayak Godse, resident of Poona, stepped closer and fired three shots from a pistol at the Mahatma from barely 2 / 3 feet distance which hit the Mahatma in his stomach and chest and blood started flowing. Mahatmaji fell backwards, uttering “Raam – Raam”. The assailant was apprehended on the spot with the weapon. The Mahatma was carried away in an unconscious state towards the  residential unit of the Birla House where he passed away instantly and the police took away the assailant.

Sd/-
N.L. Mehta/30 January 1948

Having received the information I rushed to the Birla House to find the dead body of the Mahatma at room No. 3. Met Shri Nand Lal Mehta, his statement recorded and got confirmed after reading it out to him. Copy of the statement handed over to him. Came to know that the assailant was whisked away by the Assistant Sub-Inspector. It was a case of Section 302 Indian Penal Code. All the case papers were sent to the Police Station Tughlak Road and I got engaged in conducting investigations. A special report may be forwarded through the police station.

Sd/- in English/30 January 1948″ Unquote.

Trial Court

The trial began on May, 27, 1948 and ran for eight months before Justice Atma Charan passed his final order on February 10, 1949. The prosecution called 149 witnesses, the defence none.

Gandhi Murder Trial

                 May 27, 1948: On the first day of the Gandhi murder trial held at the Red Fort.                                       (From left, Front Row) Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte and Vishnu Karkare.                    (From left, Seated Behind) Digambar Badge, Shankar Kistayya, V. D. Savarkar and Gopal Godse.

On February 27, 1948, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wrote to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru: “I have kept myself almost in daily touch with the progress of the investigation regarding Bapu’s assassination case… It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha – directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through” (Sardar Patel Correspondence 1945-50, Vol 6, Page 56, edited by Durga Das)

However, personal conviction would not compromise Patel’s commitment to due legal process. Not surprisingly Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a member of the Nehru Cabinet, incongruously pleaded with Patel on behalf of Savarkar, whom he had succeeded as President of the Hindu Mahasabha, on the very day the Special Court was set up. Dr. Mookerjee’s concern was that Savarkar “was being prosecuted on account of his political convictions”. Sardar Patel wrote a letter to him 20 days before Savarkar was named in the chargesheet, explaining “I have told (the Advocate-General and other legal advisers and investigating officers), quite clearly, that the question of inclusion of Savarkar must be approached purely from a legal and judicial standpoint and political considerations should not be imported into the matter… I have also told them that, if they come to the view that Savarkar should be included, the papers should be placed before me before action is taken. This is, of course, insofar as the question of guilt is concerned from the point of view of law and justice. Morally, it is possible that one’s conviction may be the other way about”.

“I quite agree with you that the Hindu Mahasabha, as an organisation, was not concerned in the conspiracy that led to Gandhiji’s murder; but at the same time, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that an appreciable number of the members of the Mahasabha gloated over the tragedy and distributed sweets. On this matter, reliable reports have come to us from all parts of the country. Further, militant communalism, which was preached until only a few months ago by many spokesmen of the Mahasabha, including men like Mahant Digbijoy Nath, Prof. Ram Singh and Deshpande, could not but be regarded as a danger to public security. The same would apply to the RSS, with the additional danger inherent in an organisation run in secret on military or semi-military lines.” (Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, Volume 6, Pages 65-66).

Digambar Badge, who supplied weapons and ammunition to the main accused Nathuram Godse and his collaborator Narayan Apte, turned approver. According to his statement, Nathuram and Apte visited Savarkar’s home called Savarkar Sadan in Shivaji Park, Dadar, on January 17, 1948, to seek his blessings. Badge said he was asked to wait in the ground floor as Nathura and Apte went up to the first floor. “They returned in five to ten minutes followed by Savarkar. He addressed Nathuram Godse and told him. “Yashasvi houn yaa” (Return successful). Badge stated that later in the cab, Apte said, “Tatyarao ni ase bhavishya kele ahe ki ata Gandhi chi shambhar varshe bharli. Ata kahi sanvshay nahi ki apla kaam yashasvi honaar. (Tatyarao, Savarkar, has predicted that now Gandhi’s hundred years are over. There is no doubt that our work will be successful” (‘Let’s Kill Gandhi’ by Tushar A Gandhi). But during the course of the trial both Nathura Godse and Dr. V D Savarkar denied Badge’s statement.

The examination and the cross-examination of Badge went on from July 20, 1948 till July 30, 1948. He was cross-examined for nearly seven days. Justice Charan had found Badge to be a “truthful witness”. There was ample opportunity for the Justice Charan to observe his demeanour and the manner of his giving evidence. The Judge also found circumstantial evidence against Savarkaar to be “impressive” but in the absence of independent corroboration of some of the crucial parts of Badge’s testimony, Judge found it “unsafe” to convict Savarkar. This is based on the school of legal thought which found it worthy to take “the risk of letting a thousand criminals go unpunished in the process of ensuring that not a single innocent man is penalised”.

It must be noted however that during the assassination trial, the prosecution did not call to the stand American marine Herbert Reiner Jr., who caught Godse or the nephew of then Congress Minister Takthmal Jain of Madhya Bharat Ministry (1948), who claimed to have heard four shots or Savarkar’s bodyguard Ramchandra Kasar and Savarkar’s secretary Gajanan Damle, both of who claimed that Savarkar met with Godse and Ampte at Savarkar Sadan, two times prior to the assassination or Jagdishprasad Goyal, the person who sold the pistol to Nathuram Godse at Gwalior.

All the eight men were convicted for the murder conspiracy, and others convicted for violation of the Explosive Substances Act. Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death by hanging and the remaining six were sentenced to life imprisonment. Dr. Savarkar was let off for want of “corroborating evidence”. Justice Atma Charan, at the time of announcing his order, informed the convicted persons that if they wished to appeal, they should do so within fifteen days. Four days later appeals were filed in the Punjab High Court on behalf of all the seven convicted persons.

Naturam Godse’s Statement in Court

During the trial, Godse did not deny killing Gandhiji, and filed a long written statement in the trial court explaining his motivations for the assassination. Here is the full text of his representation in Court extracted verbatim. This is being shared for the readers to make a dispassionate view of the incident and give a historic perspective.

Quote “Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. Nevertheless, as I grew up. I developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any ‘ism’ political or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I publicly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus should be treated with equal status as to rights, social and religious, and should be high or low on their merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession. I used publicly to take part in organised anti-caste dinners in which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Charmars and Bhangis broke the caste rules an dined in the company of each other.

I have read the works of Dadabhai Naoroji, Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak along with books of ancient and modern history of India and of some prominent countries in the world like England, France, America and Russia. Not only that, I studied tolerably well the current tenets of Socialism and Communism too. But above all I studied very closely whatever Veer Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind, these two ideologies had contributed more to mould the thought and action of modern India during the last fifty years or so, than any other single factor had done.

All this reading and thinking brought me to believe that, above all, it was my first duty to serve the Hindudom and the Hindu people, as a patriot and even as a humanitarian. For, is it not true that to secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty crores of Hindus constituted the freedom and the well-being of one-fifth of human race? This conviction led me naturally to devote myself to the new Hindu Sanghatanist ideology and programme, which alone, I came to believe, could win and preserve the national independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable her to render true service to humanity as well.

In 1946 or thereabouts the Muslim atrocities perpetrated on the Hindus under the Government patronage of Suhrawardy in Noakhali, made our blood boil. Our shame and indignation knew to bounds, when we saw that Gandhiji had come forward to shield that very Suhrawardy and begun to style him as ‘Shahid Saheb’ a Martyr Soul (!) even in his prayer meetings. Not only that, but after coming to Delhi, Gandhiji began to hold his prayers meetings in a Hindu temple in Bhangi Colony and persisted in reading passages from the Koran as a part of the prayer in that Hindu temple, in spite of the protest of the Hindu worshippers there. Of course he dared not read Geeta in a mosque in the teeth of Muslim opposition. He knew what a terrible Muslim reaction there would have been it he had done so. But he could safely trample over the feelings of the tolerant Hindu. To belie this belief I determined to prove to Gandhiji that the Hindu too could be in tolerant when his honour was insulted.

Just after that followed the terrible outburst of Muslim fanaticism in the Punjab and other part of India. The Congress Government began to persecute, prosecute the shoot the Hindus themselves who dared to resist the Muslim forces in Bihar, Calcutta. Punjab and other places. Our worst fears seemed to be coming true; and yet how painful and disgraceful it was for us to find that the 15th of August 1947 was celebrated with illuminations and festivities, while the whole of the Punjab was set by the Muslims in flames and Hindu blood ran in rivers. The Hindu Mahasabhaites of my persuasion decided to boycott the  festivities and the Congressite Government, and to launch a fighting programme to check Muslim onslaughts. 

Five crores of Indian Muslim have ceased to be our countrymen; virtually the non-Muslim minority in Western Pakistan has been liquidated either by the most brutal murders or by a forced tragic removal from their moorings of centuries; the same process is furiously at work in Eastern Pakistan. One hundred and ten million people have been torn from their homes of which not less than four million are Muslims, and when I found that even after such terrible results Gandhiji continued to pursue the same policy of appeasement, my blood boiled and I could not tolerate him any longer. I do not mean to use hard words against Gandhiji personally, not do I wish to conceal my utter dissent from and disapproval of the very foundation of his policy and methods. Gandhiji in fact succeeded in doing what the British always wanted to do in pursuance of their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. He helped them in dividing India and it is not yet certain whether their rule has ceased.

The accumulating provocation of 32 years, culminating in his last pro-Muslim fast, at last, goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhiji should be brought to an end immediately. On coming back to India he developed a subjective mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong. If the country wanted his leadership it had to accept his infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and carry on in his own way. Against such an attitude there can be no halfway house; either the Congress had to surrender its will to his, and had to be content with playing the second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He alone was the judge of everyone and everything: he was the master brain guiding the civil disobedience movement; nobody else knew the technique of that “movement”; he alone knew when to begin it and when to withdraw it. The movement may succeed or fail; it may bring untold disasters and political reverses, but that could make no difference to the Mahatma’s infallibility. “A Satyagrahi can never fail” was his formula for declaring his own infallibility and nobody except he himself knew who a Satyagrahi was. Thus Gandhiji became the judge and the counsel in his own case. These childish inanities and obstinacies coupled with a most severe austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhiji formidable and irresistible. Many people thought his politics were it- rational, but they had either to withdraw from the Congress or to place their intelligence at his feet to do what he liked with it. In a position of such absolute irresponsibility Gandhiji was guilty of blunder after blunder, failure after failure and disaster after disaster. No one single political victory can be claimed to his credit during 33 years of his political predominance.

So long as Gandhian method was in the ascendance, frustration was the only inevitable result. He had, throughout, opposed every spirited revolutionary, radical and vigorous individual or group, and constantly boosted his Charka, non-violence and truth. The Charka had, after 34 years of the best efforts of Gandhiji, only led to the expansion of the machine-run textile industry by over 200 per cent. It is unable even now to clothe even one per cent of the nation. As regards non-violence, it was absurd to except 40 crores of people to regulate their lives on such a lofty plane and it broke down most conspicuously in 1942. As regards truth the least I can say is that the truthfulness of the average Congressman is by no means of a higher order than that of the man in the street, and that very often it is untruth, in reality, masked by a thin veneer of pretended truthfulness.

Gandhiji’s inner voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence, of which so much is made of, all crumbled before Mr. Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless.  Having known that with his spiritual powers he could not influence Mr. Jinnah, Gandhiji should have either changed his policy or could have admitted his defeat and given way to others of different political views to deal with Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League. But Gandhiji was not honest enough to do that. He could not forget his egoism or self even for national interest. There was, thus, no scope left for the practical politics while the great blunders-blunders as big as the Himalayas were being committed.

Those who personally know me take me as a person of quiet temperament. But when the top-rank leaders of the Congress with the consent of Gandhiji divided and tore the country-which we consider as a deity of worship- my mind became full with thoughts of direful anger.

Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw that I shall be totally ruined and the only thing that I could except from the people would be nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I felt that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me and dub me as devoid of any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow the course founded on reason which I consider to be necessary for sound nation-building. After having fully considered the question, I took the final decision in the matter but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took courage in both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji, on 30th January 1948, on the prayer-grounds in Birla House.

There now remains hardly anything for me to say. If devotion to one’s country amounts to a sin, I admit I have committed that sin. If it is meritorious, I humbly claim the merit thereof. I fully and confidently believe that if there be any other Court of justice beyond the one founded by the mortals, my act will not be taken as unjust. If after death there be no such place to reach or to go to, there is nothing to be said. I have resorted to the action I did purely for the benefit of the humanity. I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack (sic) and ruin and destruction to lakhs of Hindus.

May the country properly known as Hindustan be again united and be one, and may the people be taught to discard the defeatist mentality leading them to submit to the aggressors. This is my last wish and prayer to the Almighty. My confidence about the moral side to my action has not been shaken even by the criticism levelled against it on all sides. I have no doubt honest writers of history will weigh my act and find the true value thereof on some day in future.” Unquote.

High Court (Appeal)

The appeal by the “convicted men” was heard from 2 May 1949, at Peterhoff, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) which then housed the Punjab High Court. Of those found guilty, all except Nathuram Godse appealed their conviction and sentence. Nathuram Godse “accepted his death sentence”, but appealed the lower court ruling that found him guilty of conspiracy. Nathuram argued, in his limited appeal to the High Court, that there was no conspiracy, he alone was solely responsible for the assassination, witnesses saw only him kill Gandhiji, that all co-accused were innocent and should be released.

An appeal in a murder case is, according to High Court Rules and Orders, heard by a Division Bench consisting of two judges, but owing to the unique position which the deceased had occupied, the complexity and volume of the evidence which would have to be considered and appraised and the unprecedented interest aroused by the case, the Chief Justice decided to constitute a bench of three judges to hear the appeal by Godse and his accomplices. The judges were Justice A. N. Bhandari, Justice Achhruram and Justice G. D. Khosla. As a special measure the Justices resumed the old practice of wearing wigs, and that on their entry into the court-room, as in the olden days, be preceded by liveried ushers carrying silver-mounted staffs.

Mr. Banerjee, a senior advocate from Calcutta, represented Narayan Apte and Madanlal Pahwa, Mr. Dange represented Vishnu Karkare, Mr. Avasthi of the Punjab High Court, engaged at public expense to represent Shankar Kistayya, who was too poor to pay counsel’s fees, and Mr. Inamdar from Bombay represented Dr. Parchare and Gopal Godse. Naturam Godse had made a plea of poverty and based on this he requested that he be allowed to appear in person during the appeal trial and his plea was granded.

As a result of this, Godse was the only accused who was present during the trial at Shimla and he stood in a specially constructed dock. Justice G.D. Khosla, in his book “The Murder of the Mahatma” published in 1965 said, “this request was only an excuse; in reality, Godse wanted to be present at the trial, because he wanted to exhibit himself as a fearless patriot and a passionate protagonist of Hindu ideology”.

On the right-hand end of the front row sat four lawyers who were appearing for the prosecution – Daphtary, Advocate-General of Bombay, Patigar and Vyavakarkar, also from Bombay, and Kartar Singh Chawla from Simla High Court. The entire evidence, oral and documentary, were contained in all 1,131 printed pages of foolscap size and a supplementary volume of 115 pages of cyclostyled foolscap paper.

The High Court confirmed the findings and sentences of the lower court except in the cases of Dr. Dattatraya Parchure and Shankar Kistayya who were acquitted of all charges.

Privy Council

During the British rule, the Privy Council was the highest court of appeal in India, which was later known as the Federal Court of Appeal. After the replacement of the Federal Court with the Supreme Court in January 1950, the Abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act 1949 came into effect. The Privy Council was part of the British Parliament. While appeals from England were heard by the House of Lords, those from British colonies were heard by the judicial commission of the Privy Council.

On October 26, 1949, the Privy Council did not grant leave [permission to file the petition] to the families of the accused, including Godse, who had filed the special leave petition (SLP).

It is alleged in some quarters that they had refused to grant leave on the ground that even if they did admit the petition, it would not have been decided before January 26, 1950 when the Indian Supreme Court was to be born. Once the Supreme Court of India came into existence, the jurisdiction to hear the SLP would lie with it. This is why the right wing organisations like RSS and its affiliates claim that Mahatma Gandhi’s murder trial did not attain legal finality.

Executions

Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death on November 8, 1949 after the High Court of East Punjab confirmed their death sentence on June 21, 1949.  Pleas for commutation were made by Gandhiji’s two sons, Manilal Gandhi and Ramdas Gandhi, but these pleas were turned down by India’s Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Governor-General Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

Godse and Apte were hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949. A single gallows had been prepared for the execution of both. Two ropes, each with a noose, hung from the high crossbar in parallel lines. Godse and Apte were made to stand side by side, the black cloth bags were drawn over their heads and tied at the necks. After adjusting the nooses, the executioner stepped off the platform and pulled the lever. According to the Almanac of World Crime, at the hanging Apte’s neck broke and he died instantly, but “Nathuram died slowly by the rope”; instead of having his neck snap he choked “to death for fifteen minutes”.

Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission

However, in 1965, the Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission of Inquiry into Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi was set up. It took into account statements made by Appa Ramchandra Kasar, bodyguard of Savarkar, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, Savarkar’s secretary, to the Bombay Police on March 4, 1948.

In the unpardonably rushed Red Fort trial, neither Kasar nor Damle was tried. In the report of the commission, which came out in 1969, both Damle and Kasar said there were extensive interactions between Savarkar and Nathuram before the assassination. Damle said that “Apte and Nathuram came to see Savarkar about the middle of January, late at night.” Kasar said that, “On or about 15th or 16th (January), Nathuram and Apte had an interview with Savarkar at 9.30 pm. After about a week or so, maybe 23rd or 24th of January, Apte and Nathuram again came to Savarkar and had a talk with him at about 10 or 10.30 am for about half an hour.”

The Commission report said, “All this shows that people who were subsequently involved in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi were all congregating sometime or the other at Savarkar Sadan and sometimes had long interviews with Savarkar. It is significant that Narayan Apte and Nathuram Godse visited him both before the bomb was thrown and also before the murder was committed and on each occasion they had long interviews.”

The J. L. Kapur Commission concluded: “All the facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group”. By the time the report came out in 1969, Savarkar was dead for three years.

Savarkar, the J. L. Kapur report underlined, was involved in the conspiracy to assassinate the Mahatma. All these details are available in the public domain.

Second Attempt : 20 January 1948

Ten days before the the January 30, 1948 assassination attempt that killed Gandhiji, there was another assassination attempt. Gandhi had initially been staying at the scheduled caste Balmiki Temple, near Gole Market in the northern part of New Delhi, and holding his prayer meetings there. When the temple was requisitioned for sheltering refugees of the partition he moved to Birla Bhavan, a large mansion on what was then Albuquerque Road in south-central New Delhi, not far from the diplomatic enclave. Gandhi was living in two unpretentious rooms in the left wing of Birla Bhavan, and conducting prayer meetings on a raised lawn behind the mansion. It is the place Gandhiji spent the last 144 days of his life.

The first attempt to assassinate Gandhi at Birla House occurred on 20 January 1948. According to Stanley Wolpert, in his book “Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India”, Nathuram Godse and his colleagues followed Gandhi to a park where he was speaking. One of them threw a grenade away from the crowd. The loud explosion scared the crowd, creating a chaotic stampede of people. Gandhi was left alone on the speakers’ platform.

The original assassination plan was to throw a second grenade, after the crowds had run away, at the isolated Gandhi. But the alleged accomplice Digambar Badge lost his courage, did not throw the second grenade and ran away with the crowd. All of the assassination plotters ran away, except Madanlal K Pahwa. He was arrested and it had set the alarm bells ringing. His accomplices, Godse and others, fled. The next day, Morarji Desai, Home Minister in the Province of Bombay, assigned the case to Jamshed Dorab Nagarwala, who was then serving as a young Deputy Commissioner of Police with the Special Branch of Bombay police.

The authors of Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (Page 417): “Nagarvala set the machinery in motion to identify him. For the young officer there seemed no question that, sooner or later, the road to the men who had tried to murder Gandhi had to pass by the quiet house among the palms and meddler trees of Sivaji Park, Savarkar’s residence in Bombay. Nagarvala had asked Desai for permission to arrest Savarkar on the basis of Madanlal’s visit to him the week before. Desai had refused with the angry query: “Are you mad? Do you think I want this whole province to go up in smoke?” If Nagarvala could not confine Savarkar to a prison cell, however, he could at least confine him to a brilliant organisation created by the British that was the pride of the Bombay CID, its Watchers’ Branch”.

First Attempt : 25 June 1934

A prior, unsuccessful attempt, to assassinate Gandhi occurred on 25 June 1934 at Pune. Gandhi was in Pune along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi, to deliver a speech at Corporation Auditorium. They were travelling 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.

Gandhi Funeral

Miscellaneous 

Silent Video: Below is a silent video which takes us into the Red Fort Trial courtroom where Godse and seven co-conspirators were tried in 1948-’49. The footage opens are with shots of the Red Fort in Delhi, where the trial began on June 22, 1948 and Judge Atma Charan coming into Court. The accused, including lawyer VD Savarkar, Narayan Apte, Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu Karkare, can be seen in the dock having conversation and exchanging grins with the press corps. Only Godse is impassive.

Gopal Godse’s Book: Dr. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar died in 1966. The next year, Gopal Godse, brother of Gandhiji’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, and his co-conspirator, revealed in his book Gandhi Hatya Ani Mee (‘Gandhi’s murder and I’) “the close relationship between Savarkar and Nathuram, which both were at pains to conceal at the Gandhi murder trial. Savarkar was acquitted by the Sessions Judge, though the approver Badge’s evidence was found to be “completely reliable”, only because the law required “independent corroboration””.

Nathuram’s statement at the murder trial (Originally published in 1977, in a volume entitled May It Please Your Honour) says, “I am one of those volunteers who joined the Sangha in its initial stage”. He says he left it to do more directly political work in the Hindu Mahasabha (he does not say when). But his brother Gopal Godse in his book “Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy” suggests that “he (Nathuram) never really left the RSS, and that the statement at his trial was meant to alleviate the pressure on the Sangh, which was banned following Gandhiji’s murder. Although “honourably acquitted” of conspiring to kill Gandhi, Savarkar was nevertheless a close associate of Nathuram. Gopal Godse’s daughter, Asilata, has married Ashok Savarkar, son of Savarkar’s younger brother Narayan. Both families are still close to the Hindu Mahasabha.”

Gopal Godse’s Spat with L.K. Advani : On November 21, 1993 the then BJP President L. K. Advani issued a statement denying that his party had anything to do with the attempts to glorify Nathuram Godse. “Nathuram Godse was a bitter critic of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”, he said. “His charge was that the RSS had made Hindus impotent. We have had nothing to do with Godse. The Congress is in the habit of reviving this allegation against us when it finds nothing else.” (The Times of India, 22 November 1993).

Gopal Godse reacted to Advani’s statement angrily and called it the response of a coward. In an interview soon after Gopal Godse had said that “all the three Godse brothers – Nathuram, Dattatreya and Gopal were part of the RSS and had not left the organisation”. He said “Nathuram joined the RSS when he was in Sangli in 1932. He remained a boudhik karyawah (intellectual worker) till his death. He was neither expelled nor did he ever leave the organisation”.

He added “the politics of swayamsevaks like the Godses’ does not differ too greatly from that of the RSS and the BJP today. The BJP’s campaign slogan in the recent elections, “Hum ne jo kaha, so kiye” (What we said, we did), boasting of an event that consumed thousands of lives (indicating Babri Masjid demolition and the nationwide riots that followed), denotes an implacability of resolve at least equal to Nathuram’s”. (Frontline, 28 January 1994)

Gopal Godse was Hindu Mahasabha General Secretary till 2005, when he passed away.

If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smilingly. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and my lips. 

 ~ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

January 28, 1948 (Two days prior to the assassination)

 

Shadow of One’s Soul

Shadow

As life turn the page of time
Unknowing and unforgiving.
He walks amongst the crowd,
His costume is his emotion.

To let unknowing
And not showing.
The pains and hurt
That time has brought.

The shadow colors all
Light will not drive it away.
It seems vile and sinister
But it knows not good or evil.

It is beyond such notions.
But it conjures fear.
Some embrace it
Others try to run away.

Unknown to them it masks the shroud
That mocks his devotion.
Unknown the winner of that duel
Or who now shadows who.

Unknown, alone and disowned
A cruel twist of fate.
Hoping one day he’s born anew
For shadow’s never disappear or fade.

The shadow of one’s soul
Forever lingering…