Kanubhai Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and former NASA scientist, died at a private hospital here on Monday, battling paralysis and heart attack. He was 86. Immortalised in an iconic photograph as the boy tugging at Mahatma Gandhi’s walking stick on Dandi beach during salt satyagraha, Kanubhai was the son Ramdas Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi’s third son). He, along with his wife Shivalaxmi (89), was staying at an accommodation at Sant Niwas, run by Radha Krishna Temple Trust, at Athwalines here for the last three months. He had no child.
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He was admitted to the hospital on October 22 after he suffered a heart attack. He was put on life support as he had also suffered a paralysis attack. According to his friend and noted architect Parimal Desai, Kanubhai stopped responding to treatment Monday evening and soon declared dead. “We have not decided where to carry out funeral procession. Ushaben, Neelam and Sumitra are coming to Surat. After consulting Shivalaxmi and the three sisters of Kanubhai Gandhi, we will decide whether to carry out funeral procession in Surat or at Maroli in Navsari district,” Desai told The Indian Express. Kanubahi also used to stay at Kasturba Seva Ashram at Maroli in Navsari after returning to India four years ago.
“Sad to learn about the sad demise of Kanubhai Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, my heartfelt condolences,” President Pranab Mukherjee said on Twitter. Condoling Kanubhai’s death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Pained by the demise of Kanubhai Gandhi, the grandson of Gandhi Ji. Remembering my various interactions with him. May his soul rest in peace.”
During Kanubhai’s stay in Delhi a few months ago, Modi had interacted with him after reports of him staying in an old age home was published in the media in May. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kanubhai worked with the US Defense Department on the wing structure of fighter aircraft and joined NASA in 1991, from where he retired. BJP and Congress leaders reached the hospital after learning about the death of Kanubhai.