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Myth & Reality

Murder Of The Mahatma

- Tushar A. Gandhi

Contrary to popular belief there were many failed attempts on the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma. On 30th June 1946 speaking at a Prayer Meeting at Pune, after an unsuccessful attempt, the Mahatma said, "By the grace of God I have been saved from the proverbial jaws of death seven times. I have not ever hurt any body. I consider no one to be an enemy, so I fail to understand why there have been so many attempts on my life? The attempt on my life yesterday failed. I am not ready to die just yet. I am going to live till I reach 125 years." Out of these attempts five are well documented and involve the Pune branch of the Hindu Mahasabha. Three of which also point to the involvement of Narayan Apte and Nathuram Godse. Godse, Apte and the Mahasabha as well as their off shoot the Rasthtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have always claimed that the Mahatma was murdered because he was partial to the Muslims, because he was responsible for the vivisection of India and because he forced the government of India to give Pakistan 55 Crores Rs (550 million). Apart from the last two attempts on 20th January 1948 and his murder on 30th January 1948. Bapuji had not shown any alleged partiality towards Muslims, the country was not divided and there was no question of giving 55 Crores (Rs.550 Million) to Pakistan. Yet the Hindu Mahasabha and the Godse Apte gang of murderers were hell bent on killing the Mahatma. The following text is based on the book Hatyakand (The Story of Gandhi Murder), a good in Hindi giving a minute by minute account of the Gandhi Murder Trial.

The First Attempt,

Bomb thrown at Pune

25th June 1934, Pune. : During the Harijan Yatra in 1934, The Mahatma visited Pune. On 25thJune he was to deliver a speech at the Corporation Auditorium. The Mahatma and Kasturba were traveling in a motorcade consisting of two similar cars. At one place enroute the car in which the Gandhis were traveling was detained at a railway level crossing.

The first car arrived at the auditorium and the welcoming committee assumed that that the Gandhis had arrived and stepped forward to welcome them, just then a bomb was thrown at the car which exploded grievously injuring the Chief Officer of the Municipal Corporation, two policeman and seven others. The bomb was reportedly hurled by anti Gandhi Hindu extremists as mentioned by Mahatma's secretary Pyarelal in his book the Last Phase and by his biographer B. G. Tendulkar. Pyarelal has written that " This time their attempt was very well planned and executed to perfection…." Implying that the attempts before 25th June 1934 failed due to lack of planning and co-ordination. And also that the murderers were getting better with each attempt.

Pyarelal has said " These people kept photographs of Gandhi, Nehru and other Congress leaders in their shoes. They were trained to shoot by using Gandhiji's photograph as their target, these were the same people who later murdered the Mahatma while he was striving to bring peace to a riot ravaged Delhi, in 1948."

After the attack speaking at the function to felicitate him the Mahatma said, " It is sad that these happened while I am working for the upliftment of the Harijans. I have no desire for martyrdom as yet, but if it is to happen, I am prepared to face it. But in trying to kill me why are they inconsiderate to the innocents who are likely to be killed or injured along with me? My wife and three young girls who are like daughters to me were traveling in the car with me. How have they angered you?"

The attacker escaped and there is no record of investigations or arrests. This was the first documented attempt in India on the life of the Mahatma. Many historians have alleged that this was the work of the Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte gang. This gang was involved in several other bomb attacks on other opponents of their Hindutva and dominance of the upper castes ideology.

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