Assassination Attempts: Ghandi Non-Violent Hero Part 1

About the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi the here of India who encouraged nonviolent resistence to the British, biography of his assassin Nathuram Godse.

The Victim: MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI was born on October 2, 1869. One of the most respected figures in modern history, Gandhi spent his life practicing and promoting nonviolent rebellion, and did more than any other single individual to free India from British rule.

The Date: January 30, 1948.

The Event: The time was 5:13 P.M., January 30, 1948. At Birla House in Delhi, Mahatma (meaning "great soul" in Sanskrit) Gandhi emerged from his quarters to conduct a prayer meeting in the gardens. Several hundred persons were present. Gandhi was weak from a long fast and was supported by a grandniece on either side. He joked with them as they walked along the covered corridor adjacent to the gardens. Gandhi climbed the brick steps leading up to the grounds and stood smiling at the crowd, which opened up to let him pass. Suddenly a man in a green pullover and a khaki jacket rushed up to Gandhi. He bowed briefly and then shot the 78-year-old pacifist 3 times--once in the abdomen and twice in the chest. Gandhi cried "Hai Rama! Hai Rama!" before he collapsed and died. The assassin was set upon, beaten, and dragged away.

The Assassins: Nathuram Godse was 37 when he killed Gandhi. By profession, he was the editor of a Hindu nationalist newspaper. By temperament he was reserved and polite. His father was a small-town bureaucrat who could not afford to give his son much formal education. Godse struggled for a while as a tailor, and then, at age 20, decided to devote his life to the Hindu Mahasabha, a fiercely anti-Muslim politico-religious organization that hated Gandhi for tolerating non-Hindu faiths.

Godse was the organizer of and principal participant in a dedicated if somewhat bungling assassination conspiracy that began its plotting in August, 1947. Godse decided that an armed group of assailants would have a better chance of success than a lone executioner, and he spent the next several months lining up comrades and weapons. The main conspirators were:

--Gopal Godse--Nathuram's younger brother.

--Narayan Apte--the production manager of Godse's newspaper.

--Mandanlal Pahwa--a young man who had seen his father and aunt murdered by a Muslim mob; considered a significant action man in the conspiracy.

--Vishnu Karkare--a restaurant owner and official Mahasabha representative; also Pahwa's employer.

--Shankar Kistayya--the youngest of the group; illiterate; functioned mainly as a carrier of illegal weapons.

--Digambar Badge--a bookseller and weapons-supplier.

--Vinayak Savarkar--an important political opponent of Gandhi's who had retired, and who would inevitably be suspected of collusion in such an affair because of his ruthless and antagonistic history. His exact relationship to the conspiracy has not been definitively established, although it is thought that he was visited at crucial points by Godse and others.

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