Assassination Attempts: Ghandi Non-Violent Hero Part 3

About the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi the here of India who encouraged nonviolent resistence to the British, the arrest and trial of the conspirators.

The Victim: MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI one of the most respected figures in modern history.

The main conspirators--8 in number--were all arrested. Their trial was convened in Delhi on May 27, 1948, and it continued until February 10, 1949. The prosecution called 149 witnesses and all the proceedings had to be translated into several languages. Godse remained totally suave and detached during the long months of the trial. As the prosecution's version of the conspiracy gradually emerged, Savarkar--the retired political leader--continually denied any involvement and poured out elaborate legal arguments against every bit of incriminating evidence. This impressed the judge--there was no jury--and Savarkar was eventually acquitted.

On November 8, 1948, Godse took the spotlight and read to the court a 92-page handwritten statement in which he assumed full and sole responsibility for the assassination. He called Gandhi a "curse to India, a force for evil," and "a political and ethical imposter." He accused Gandhi of setting himself up as "infallible . . . the master brain guiding the civil disobedience movement." He complained of Gandhi's "egotistic pursuit of harebrained policy," and feared that because of Gandhi's actions the Muslims would take over India and Hinduism would be destroyed.

Godse blamed Gandhi for the partition of August, 1947, and said that the decision to kill him was made at that time. He cited significant Hindu legends and mythological characters to justify his use of violence, and often referred to man's subjugation to Greater Forces and Meta-Destinies, without denying his own willful act.

On February 10, 1949, Godse and Apte were sentenced to death. Savarkar was acquitted, and the remaining 5 plotters drew life terms. Godse and Apte read and wrote voluminously in jail while their appeals were being considered (and eventually rejected). On November 15, 1949, they walked to the gallows shouting, "India united!" Apte died immediately of a broken neck; Godse took 15 minutes to strangle.

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