Pankaj Phadnis, Mumbai-based researcher and co-founder of Savarkar-inspired Abhinav Bharat, has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a re-investigation into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. His petition seeks a forensic examination of the blood-stained shawl and watch of Gandhi to ascertain how many wounds the Mahatma had suffered when he was shot dead on January 30, 1948.
“I am asking for a forensic examination of the blood-stained shawl because that is a clinching evidence of how many shots were fired,” says Phadnis. He explains that he got a forensic examination conducted on a photograph of Gandhi on his death bed by an expert in the United States. “He has given me a written opinion and he categorically says that there are four wounds,” he says.
In his new petition, Phadnis has also cited a BBC broadcast that was made minutes after the murder of the Mahatma on January 30. “The clip of the BBC broadcast made in the evening very clearly says that Godse was caught by a young American. But none of the six eyewitnesses say anything about the young American. That is a major discrepancy,” says Phadnis. “It throws doubt on the testimony of the eyewitnesses. If they were wrong about who caught Godse, they could also be wrong about how many shots were fired. The credibility of the witness gets damaged.”
Phadnis had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in October 2017 seeking for the re-opening of the investigation in the assassination of Gandhi. Based on evidence of newspaper reports, a handwritten letter by Manuben Gandhi (Gandhi’s grand-niece) and police records, Phadnis had pointed to the possibility of a fourth bullet that hit Gandhi, but not from Godse’s pistol, thereby suggesting that there might have been a second assassin in the case. His petition, however, was dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 28, 2018. The bench said the petition was “based on academic research but that cannot form the basis to reopen a matter that happened 70 years ago”. Phadnis’s petition had also been severely criticised by historians and intellectuals who consider it to be an attempt to free the political descendants of Gandhi’s murder from the burden of guilt.