Godse is often a misunderstood character. He is referred to as a Hindu fanatic. It is often hard to understand Godse because the Government of India had suppressed information about him. His court statements, letters etc. were all banned from the public until recently. Judging from his writings one thing becomes very clear – He was no fanatic. His court statements are very well read out and indicate a calm and collected mental disposition. He never even once speaks ill about Gandhi as a person, but only attacks Gandhi’s policies which caused ruin and untold misery to Hindus. Another interesting point to note is that Godse had been working with the Hindu refugees fleeing from Pakistan. He had seen the horrible atrocities committed on them. Many women had their hands cut off, nose cut off, even little girls had been raped mercilessly. Despite this Godse did not harm even single Muslim in India which he could easily have. So it would be a grave mistake to call him a Hindu fanatic.
Let us start by studying the motive behind Godse’s act. By seeing the nature of the assassination in public space and Godse’s act of turning himself over to the Police, we can see that Godse did not do this for personal reasons. Read more..
This is a widely circulated message about Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, claiming to show facts about him that say he is not a Hindu fanatic, but a well-learned person who just opposed the policies of Gandhi. Although there is certain element of truth in this claim, some of the facts about Gandhi appear to be misinterpreted.
Let us first discuss the facts about Nathuram as a person.
Claim: His court statements are very well read out and indicate a calm and collected mental disposition.
Fact: This is a fact. During his trial in court, Nathuram undertook his own defense in the case, although he had lawyers. He quietly read out from a typed manuscript, his thesis of ninety-pages, where he explained why he had killed Gandhi. He was on his feet for five hours. You can read the text of Nathuram Godse’s speech in court here.
Claim: He never even once speaks ill about Gandhi as a person, but only attacks Gandhi’s policies which caused ruin and untold misery to Hindus.
Fact: It is a fact. During his school days, Nathuram highly respected Gandhi, for his mass awakening and Satyagraha movement, i.e. civil disobedience against Britishers. He dropped out of high school and worked as an activist for Hindu nationalist organizations like the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Hindu Mahasabha had also initially supported Gandhi’s campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government.
But Nathuram opposed the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League and started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, where he wrote many strong articles against partition of India. He also rejected Gandhi’s policies of extreme or absolutist nonviolence – that his ideology would make the Hindus lose the will to fight against other religions, which is a matter of self-defense. Nathuram also believed that Gandhi supported Muslims and encouraged partition of Pakistan that led to mass killings and violence, and that he repeatedly sabotaged the interests of Hindus. His fellow plotters Shankar Kistaiya, Gopal Godse, Madan Lal Pahwa, Digambar Badge, Narayan Apte, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Vishnu Karkare were also against Gandhi’s policies.
Claim: Godse had been working with the Hindu refugees fleeing from Pakistan. He had seen the horrible atrocities committed on them. Many women had their hands cut off, nose cut off, even little girls had been raped mercilessly.
Fact: It is a fact. Such kind of violence was rampant at those times, when Muslims demanded separate nation, and even after the partition. However, the Hindus at that time also sought to violent means against Muslims.
Claim: Jinnah insisted for a separate Pakistan and Gandhi took his side, so in spite of opposition from the nation, the Cabinet, India was divided. Gandhi blackmailed the cabinet with his fast unto death, also asking the government to pay 55 crores to Pakistan.
Fact: According to the Gandhi Research Foundation, Gandhi was always against the division of India. It was Jinnah who pressurized the Indian government for a separate Pakistan. On 5th of April 1947, Gandhiji conveyed to Lord Mountbatten, then Viceroy of India that he would agree even if the Britishers made Jinnah the Prime Minister of India and left the country as it was. But Mountbatten succeeded in getting the Congress to agree to partition. Gandhi was unaware of this, he was kept dark about it and was shocked to learn about it later.
This decision brought about violent differences between Hindus and Muslims. According to the Gandhi Research Foundation, Gandhi undertook fast unto death in these situations, to restore communal peace and sanity in Delhi. There was no official statement or reference that says Gandhi demanded 55 crores for Pakistan with his fast unto death. The Indian government agreed to release Rs. 55 crore to Pakistan during this period of his fast, which made the critics believe Gandhi’s involvement.
Views of Gopal Godse
Gopal Godse, the brother of Nathuram and a co-conspirator of Gandhi killing was given life imprisonment. After being in jail for 18 years, he was released. Gopal Godse talks to a media person and presents his views on Gandhi killing.
Gopal Godse also believed that Gandhi’s appeasement attitude towards the Muslims went far too much, in spite of their ill-treatment of Hindus. Gopal says that 250,000 Hindus were killed in Noakhali in October 1946, Hindu women were forced to remove their sindhoor and follow Muslim rituals. Gopal claims that Gandhi once said, ‘Hindus must bow their heads if Muslims want to kill them. We should follow the principle of ahimsa (non- violence).’
It is these policies of Gandhi, the religious violence against Hindus and the division of country that the assassins wanted to put an end to. So they killed Gandhi. The video shows Gopal Godse’s interview.
On January 13, while Gandhi was fasting, and the government of India announced that Pakistan would be given the 55 crores money, Nathuram and his team planned for his assassination. On Jan 20, 1948, seven members planned to kill Gandhi at Birla Bhavan in Delhi, but failed. They planned to blast a bomb to divert the public, and wanted to shoot Gandhi in that stampede.
On Jan 30, at Birla Bhavan again, Nathuram approached Gandhi while he was on his way to a prayer meeting and bowed before him. A girl who was accompanying Gandhi told Godse, “Brother, Bapu is already late” and tried to put him off, but Godse pushed her aside and shot Gandhi 3 times at point-blank range in the chest with a semi-automatic pistol. According to Godse, Gandhi collapsed with a feeble sound like saying ‘aah’. Godse then called for a nearby police to arrest him.
This way Nathuram Godse shot and killed Gandhi in a public space and surrendered himself to the police. Godse felt Gandhi was letting down Hindus for Muslims in the name of national integration. He also felt Gandhi’s real motive behind his last fast unto death in 1948 was to compel the Government to pay the sum of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan after partition from India.
Hoax or Fact:
Fact with some misinformation.