On January 30 evening, the crowd at the Birla House grounds was growing restless. The Mahatma was late. Nathuram Godse, his weapon hidden in his clothes, had walked in — no police officer had stopped him on the way —and was waiting on the lawns. Karkare and Apte were behind him. Fifteen minutes past 5 pm, Gandhi rushed out of his room. As he climbed the steps leading to the grounds, Godse blocked his path, greeted him with folded hands, and pushed Manu to the ground. Three shots rang out. It was 5.17 pm.
Here we retrace Nathuram Godse‘s journey from a small town in Maharashtra to becoming the man who killed Gandhi.
Interactive: special series on Nathuram Godse
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From our archives
In an opinion piece written on January 30, 2015, Christophe Jaffrelot wrote: Godse was sentenced to death along with one of his accomplices, Narayan Apte. They went to the scaffold proclaiming, “Long live undivided India!” and with a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in hand. Godse’s parents were not the only people who were prepared to believe that Nathuram had done the right thing in killing Gandhi.
Justice G.D. Khosla, who was on the bench of the East Punjab High Court, which started the final hearing of the accused’s appeal, wrote in his own book, The Murder of the Mahatma: “The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse delivered by Nathuram Godse in his defence. He spoke for several hours discussing, in the first instance, the facts of the case and then the motive which had prompted him to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life… The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men were coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. This silence was accentuated and made deeper by the sound of an occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough… I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority.”
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