Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948. Why was Gandhi killed and what events occurred before and after Gandhis murder?
This documentary shows how India was dogged by nationalism and religious conflict on its path to independence – and how these factors mark the country to this day. On 20 January 1948, Gopal Godse, a Hindu fanatic, attempted to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. Ten days later, his brother Nathuram Godse managed to finish the job: he killed Gandhi. For Gopal Godse, India’s Independence Day in August 1947 was a day of mourning. “Bharat Mata,” “Mother India,” which the young Brahmin zealously worshipped, had lost many of its provinces. Predominantly Muslim East Bengal had become East Pakistan, whilst western Punjab, the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and the land of the warlike Pashtuns made up West Pakistan a thousand miles away. This too was predominantly Muslim. Godse didn’t just see the former colonial power, Great Britain, as responsible for the “amputation,” he also believed the Muslims were to blame. But, in Godse’s eyes, the main culprit was a Hindu who was celebrated as a hero because he had defied the English, a small man with round wire glasses and a white cotton robe: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as “Mahatma,” the great soul. The Godse brothers did not care that Gandhi had always condemned conflict between the various religious communities and opposed the partition of India. They were members of the far-right Hindu Mahasabha, the “Great Assembly of Hindus,” which had close links with the anti-British and fascist National Volunteer Corps. And now extremist Hindus are gaining ground in India again…
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he is known as the father of India but throughout his life Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi evoked mixed feelings he was viewed alternatively as a fanatic or an eccentric a reactionary revolutionary saint or messiah or as a man who must be killed he championed a philosophy of non-violence only to die at the hand of an assassin he led a peaceful resistance movement to free India from British rule yet independent India was born at an hour of brutal carnage amid sectarian killings on an unprecedented scale Gandhi risked his life to preach non-violence until his dying day On January 30th 1948 he was killed by a Hindu nationalist with three shots fired to the chest in 1931 gandhi was interviewed by an American journalist pretending to be would you be prepared to die in the power of India's independence [Applause] [Applause] he could bed quit the late brother of Gandhi's assassin was jailed for almost two decades at the time of our interview he was 85 years old and recalled every detail of the plot I'm go pal God see Pradera not robbed or say not robbed Godse was the one who assassinated Gandhi ji then known as Matt McCarthy the year was 1948 I do not repent for having participated in the act we felt that 10 persons go to the gallows but let this person not live in the Indian capital Delhi there are several sites dedicated to the memory of the man to whom the poet Tagore gave the name Mahatma great soul this Samadhi the site where Gandhi's body was cremated on a funeral pyre of sandalwood in accordance with Hindu funeral custom the National Gandhi Museum and Birla house converted into a Memorial Museum after Gandhi was assassinated on its grounds everyday crowds of visitors flocked there from all over the country Bengal and Kerala Uttar Pradesh and Manipur many Indians rich or poor still see it as their duty to make the pilgrimage and pay homage the atmosphere feels more like a temple than a museum one room has a series of dioramas depicting key scenes from Gandhi's life visitors remove their shoes to approach the spot where the Mahatma fell to the assassins bullets Fresco's photographs Gandhi's meager personal belongings his notebooks Walkingstick letters even his blood-stained clothes everything related to the life of the father of the nation has been preserved when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 India was firmly under Britain's imperial yoke like his father he seemed destined to serve the ruling powers his family belonged to the Baniya caste hard-working merchants from western Gujarat state Gandhi's married at the age of 13 was arranged he and his wife Kasturba would have four children when he was 16 his father fell gravely ill Gandhi's POG refers describe him as a devoted son who sat at his father's bedside Gandhi felt that he had a duty to nurse his father at the time he was dying and hopefully he wanted to actually be with him at the hour of his death but on that particular day when his father became critically ill he felt more attracted to his wife and he was actually in the act of making love to her at the moment when his father died and it's a lot of historians who have looked at Gandhi Gandhi's life feel that this was really something which colored his whole attitude to his sexuality and led eventually to his deciding to renounce a sexual relationship with his wife after passing his bar exams in London Gandhi returned to India to practice law but soon went on to take up a short term position in South Africa he ended up staying for 20 years initially in his early years Gandhi in South Africa had lived the life of a rich lawyer he'd had a quite an affluent lifestyle he hadn't really changed become this very ascetic person addressing in hand-spun clothes and so on he was wearing western style suits he was living well but then on a train journey to Pretoria a white passenger objected to Gandhi's presence in a first-class carriage and though he had a first-class ticket he was thrown off the train he resolved to stay and fight for in inequality in South Africa when he returned to India in 1915 Gandhi was a changed man the barrister had become a political activist trading his English suit and tie for a dhoti the traditional dress of the Indian poor he set out to familiarize himself with the social problems in his homeland travelling by train across the country always in third class the movement for Indian independence was gaining momentum Gandhi addressed crowds in every town and village he visited he spoke of human dignity justice and independence [Applause] across the country nationalists organized bonfire protests to burn textiles imported from England Gandhi launched his charka or spinning wheel movement he declared at the patriotic duty of every Indian to spend 200 yards of cotton thread a day and to boycott textiles produced in the mills of Manchester and Liverpool but it didn't become a symbol of our commitment to the nationalist cause to every every morning to sit down and to get out your spinning wheel and to spin your cotton thread and they became very skillful at it you know they would spend hours every day doing this and Gandhi saw this as something which was it was it was almost a spiritual task of spinning you know for the good of the nation in 1930 Gandhi led the three-week salt march walking 358 kilometers to the village of dandy on the Arabian Sea where he defied the British salt monopoly by lifting and auctioning off a fistful of salt Gandhi and his followers were arrested but it was a victory for the man who Churchill contemptuously called the half-naked fakir coverage of the March captured the world's attention I got the angle sauce Gandhi had an innate sense of symbolism and mass communication there seems like a contradiction paradoxical for a man who came across as an ascetic as someone who renounced worldly things in search of spiritual salvation but he was a great politicians and a great communicators may state and Houghton politics Tankian communica Gandhi's weapons were civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance the British countered with transience colonial repression was often brutal prisons were full Gandhi was jailed seven times for a total of four years his protege jawahar lal nehru eight times serving nine years from the beginning to the end the struggle for independence was led by the Indian National Congress party Gandhi was its guiding light Nehru its chief organizer the two men shared a deep bond even if they didn't always see eye to eye Gandhi from a traditional Merton family now an ascetic clothed in a dhoti Neru the anglicized Brahmin well-dressed and elegant with ideas rooted in socialism somebody like narrow who embraced socialism in the 1920s Gandhi was prepared to tolerate that because he believed that that narrow would always basically be loyal to him so that he gave narrow a sort of certain amount of rope you could say you know to go his own way but Gandhi would always be holding it and Mabel to draw him in whenever he felt you know he was going to to create an extreme and a narrow well he was a new you know that he was it was in his interest to keep in with Gandhi but he also had a genuine affection for Gandhi and near his own father had died in 1931 and in many respects you can see Gandhi as sort of as taking over that position of the father figure for narrow and so that they do have a very close relationship despite the differences the two men were very different not least to never use on religion Niro was a self-professed atheist something rare in the country where refusing to express religious belief is a taboo Gandhi was deeply religious he began each meeting with prayers life in India is permeated by the values of Hinduism which assigns a person's cast on the basis of birth but Hinduism has been traditionally regarded as a tolerant religion not given to proselytizing um had expanded under the reign of the Mughal Emperors in northern India to become the country's second largest religion in British India Muslims accounted for a quarter of the population after the country's partition in 1947 that number dropped to 12% Hindus and Muslims had long enjoyed a peaceful coexistence until political representation was attached to religious identity the Muslim League emerged as a political force in the 1930s with the aim of protecting the interests of Indian Muslims but a new goal emerged the creation after Britain's withdrawal from India of a Muslim nation Pakistan or land of the pure the party was led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah who'd known Gandhi for years both Gandhi and Jana came from Gujarat they were good jarate speaking people they were both lawyers who'd been educated in London received their legal training there so in a way there was a lot in common but unfortunately they came into very sharp conflict fight early on after Gandhi returned to India in 1944 Gandhi went to meet Jenna at his private residence in Bombay over the course of almost three weeks sandy tirelessly tried to dissuade inna from his plan for a Muslim Pakistan he assured him that Muslims would have an honourable place in a secular and democratic India he even offered him the post of Prime Minister in independent India's first government Gina NASA bhaktapur Gina couldn't stand the affection and attention he was shown by Gandhi because like many Muslims he viewed it as a patronizing attempt by Hindus to assimilate Muslims Gandhi saw himself as a universalist he didn't want to be seen as Hindu but as Indian yet everything about his style his dress was typically Hindu his embrace of renunciate ori disciplines and linking of ascetic practice with political aspirations all that created the impression of a quintessential hindu shimla the summer capital of British India in 1946 the leaders of the Muslim League and Indian Congress party met here to discuss ways to implement Gandhi's vision of a united independent India Nerys knack for diplomacy failed in the face of Gina's intransigence after three weeks the talks broke down Gina Gina's campaign centered on a single topic Congress was a Hindu party with a Hindu leader he if Hindus won the first elections after independence Muslims would face assimilation and oppression to survive they needed their own state in Pakistan so in in 1946 he decides to take the matter to the streets Jinnah had been a strictly constitutional politician before then he'd been loyal to the British he hadn't ever been involved in civil disobedience campaigns he'd never adopted the sort of tactics that Gandhi had adopted but in 1946 in August 1946 he decides to take the issue to the street he's going to show the power of Muslims in India and he has the direct action dinner's call for a direct action day on August 16th 1946 in support of the demand for Pakistan sparked an eruption of harrowing violence in Calcutta 5,000 people were massacred and 20,000 wounded most of the victims were hinting that led to retaliatory attacks by Hindus against Muslims elsewhere reprisal killings spread across northern India entire families were slaughtered some Hindus now claim their religion was too passive and lacked martial ardor to them the Hindu value of Tolerance was an inexcusable weakness which had for centuries allowed first the Mughal and then the British Empire's to enslave the Hindu majority they felt the time had come for Hindus to assert themselves and for Hindu men to reclaim their prowess Lila adavi for me they wanted to reform Hinduism and boost Hindus moral and physical strength in every town and village where the movement had a local chapter activists convened mornings and evenings for ideological training and physical drills to prepare to fight Muslims who were once again the enemy every demo Lanka while internationalists massacred Muslims Muslim League extremists butchered Hindus Gandhi was horrified he began a fast in Calcutta which he vowed to continue until the violence stopped he refused to relinquish his vision of an India where the two communities could live in friendship and peace and Gandhi was watching all this he was doing his best he went to East Bengal he walked around the villages which where the Muslims had massacred the Hindu landlords and he talked to the Muslims he really put his life on the line he went without any protection just a few of his followers walking on foot and he managed to persuade the Muslims there that there was not not right to do this as he walked people would throw glass pieces on the way they would throw excreta in his spot and his answer to that was to even remove the very simple sandals which he used to wear in order to walk and start walking barefoot this had a tremendous moral impact and the parallel that we like to draw is between in the Christian tradition the crucifixion of Christ that is suffering for Humanity tormenting the flesh in order to make the moral appeal and then there is other retaliation by by Muslims in East Bengal whether in the majority they turn on Hindus and attack them Massacre many then Hindus and Bihar turn on the Muslims and and again they do the same in in yupi and then in the punjab we see the Muslims retaliating by attacking the Sikhs and killing a lot of Sikhs in march 1947 so the whole thing is blowing up in in a way that's becoming really completely uncontrollable in march 1947 Lord Louis Mountbatten arrived in Delhi as the last Viceroy of India he'd been tasked by the British prime minister to negotiate an exit deal with Indian leaders Mountbatten appeared bent on hastening the end of imperial rule and soon came to favour the option of partition granted it said the gain and again leave India to Anarchy but don't partition it we will sort it out once you are gone then we will see how to do it but the British said we will go only after you decide who should get what and that is how partition became absolutely inevitable so Gandhiji went to the extent of saying that partition could only take place on his dead body and then of course the Congress leaders decided that they would accept the demand for partition they felt that Jinnah was able to stir up so much trouble for them that if they didn't concede that demand for a separate nation state of Pakistan then he would he would cause terrible disruption within within India after independence and perhaps compromise the integrity of the new Indian nation state him perhaps collabed sir Cyril Radcliffe was appointed chairman of the Boundary Commission in charge of equitably carving a Muslim majority state from British India he was assisted by two Hindus and two Muslims because he himself knew nothing of India that was why he'd been chosen to guarantee objectivity and fairness most of India's Muslims lived in the north the plan called for the creation of one state with two territories east and west Pakistan located 2,000 kilometers apart but Hindu and Muslim communities in Bengal and Punjab were inextricably mixed drawing borders was an exercise in absurdity on August 15 1947 the partition between India and Pakistan was made official as the clock had approached midnight Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of independent India addressed the nation [Applause] and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge at the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps India will awake to life and freedom but the very morning after independence celebrations Hindus and Pakistan and Muslims in India began to flee their homes Muslims headed for Pakistan while Hindus set off for India enormous convoys of people moving in opposite directions the greatest mass migration in history ten million people were displaced many were attacked by robbers and armed militants along the way a million people lost their lives no one took responsibility for the tragedy but Hindu nationalists accused Gandhi of allowing Muslims to steal part of the Hindu nation we went to the Delhi headquarters of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha organisation there we spoke to its then president who maintained that his was the only group that sought to defend India's integrity Alvaro de Navarra was the only organization in India which advocated with the full courage and expressions that we shall never tolerate division of India we want United India 1 India so although the Hindu nationalists claimed that this was a vivisection of India and it was something that the Congress had betrayed the Indian people in agreeing to in fact it was very much a part of their own program to have a separate state and it's always served their interest subsequently to have a separate Pakistan state which is always an antagonism to India as always a representation really of of India's other its opponent a few months after independence the new states waged their first war over Kashmir a province with a Muslim majority but a Hindu Maharaja the two sides agreed to a ceasefire along what's known as the line of control it divided the region in two with one side administered by India and the other by Pakistan of the three officially declared wars between India and Pakistan to have been over Kashmir and it remains a flashpoint to this day on September the 9th 1947 Gandhi moved into the Delhi home of his friend the industrialist and Congress party supporter Ghanshyam das Birla in January of the following year Gandhi began another indefinite fast saying he would only eat if he saw a plan to stop the continuing violence Hindus who had fled persecution in Pakistan were dumbfounded by Gandhi's empathy for Muslims which was inherent in the second indirect goal of his fasting Gandhi's hunger strike was also aimed at forcing the Indian government to release Pakistan share of assets from the Treasury of British India Gandhiji that stood in favor of Pakistan and said that I shall go on hunger strike I shall die and the 55 crores should be given then only I shall leave my first at that moment some youths like me decided you will not die of hunger strike you will die bullets now Hindu nationalists found it scandalous that Gandhi would fast to ensure India respected the financial clauses of the partition agreement and transfer five hundred and fifty million rupees to a country that had launched armed cross-border raids on Kashmir so on the 20th of January there was an attempt as far as I remember say one of the accused we're present at the prayer meeting they were natural don't say Narayan obtain vishnu perkily Madan Lal power and Gopal gods say that myself the attack of January 20th was botched go / Godse was unable to reach the window from which he planned to fire his gun he hadn't thought of bringing a ladder so I tried from the window I could not reach my hand also it was so high even inside so that was for half a minute or so so I just came out that Allah has to ignite a guncotton slab near the boundary wall he did it then he was caught by the police where their actions did not take place so we all run away from the place the group fled back to Pune to plan a renewed attack their accomplice who'd set off the homemade bomb was arrested under interrogation he revealed the names of his co-conspirators even now there is debate in India as to why police failed to apprehend the men for 10 days mark maganda used to sit in the manner as you can see in this picture this was taken on 29 January on the eve of his passing away he would address people would be sitting here some would be very angry with him that they would think I mean I don't know there was a thinking amongst the empty Babu did not do enough to prevent the partition on the 30th of January from himself I rent for a pistol automatic pistol and went to the prayer ground even in that why o clock or why it may be Prime Minister lage the column indicates the exact spot where Gandhi fell was felled by the assassin's bullet the assassin lay in waiting for the Mahatma in this corner as the Mahatma reached a spot to go there he stepped forward he took three steps bowed before Mahatma Gandhi and he shot him point-blank three bullets and if you see the photograph of Mahatma Gandhi with the bullets it's almost you know it looks like a garland it's almost in a semicircle the assassin garland at Mahatma Gandhi with bullets and I think at that one moment Mahatma Gandhi rose from the ashes from the earth and he became larger than life in a radio broadcast Neru announced the news of Gandhi's death the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere who they see that it's narrowband the movements he held responsible for Gandhi's assassination the Hindu Mesaba and the Hindu volunteer organization the RSS 20,000 RSS militants were jailed sabemos TV less us or Bahaman Gandhi supporters targeted the brahmins of Maharashtra the caste to which the assassin godsey belonged and which was closely associated with the Hindu Mesaba and the RSS active main to Mercer bio Ephesus the trial of Gandhi's assassins was held at the Red Fort a highly symbolic location it was there that Niro had made his first speech to independent India and to this day the Prime Minister addresses crowds from the Red Fort on Independence Day India is a democracy the defendants had the right to a fair trial supported you for Hajj the trial at the Red Fort offered nattramn God said the perfect platform to air his views he refused legal defense and though he had lawyers he pleaded his own case he stated that he had owed it to his Hindu faith and the bhagavad-gita which justified violence he said he had been compelled to take action for the nation of Hindus which Gandhi had betrayed he needed to rid the nation of this man who persisted in weakening India stars visa vie Pakistan he described the assassination as a salutary at undertaken in the public interest not the rash deed of a lunatic but rather a deed motivated by political realism which had been well thought out and planned elect see more more efficient on the 10th of February 1949 the judgement was there no Teron Gor C Narayan up they were hanged Madan Lal Baba you should know portray it myself they're sentenced to life amid a resurgence of fundamentalism in India nationalist groups like the Hindu Mahasabha are enjoying a revival at its Delhi headquarters there is a statue of its late leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar a contemporary of Gandhi's and a nationalist but one with a very different ideology Saba curse spawned the idea of Hindutva or Hindu Ness a concept that inseparably links the Hindu and Indian identity not ROM God's a himself said that I have Mulder can be take me for a rest there is no question that ROM Godse belong to Hindu Mahasabha no doubt but Hindu Mahasabha was not belong to Gandhi Mulder this is the decision of High Court Hindu Mahasabha has no part in the murder of Gandhi there was a very close link between the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and the assassin the main assassin and the main organizer of the conspiracy of the Mahatma and natural goat say had been a close associate of Saveur car for at least a decade before the assassination and this man sour curd was directly involved not just ideologically or inspiring but directly involved in the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi Saavik her in a group photo with the conspirators he was also arrested and tried but denied all charges and was acquitted Gordian mm daddy himself said after the first assassination attempt maybe the assailant is right maybe I am a nuisance in independent India this is the classical Greek tragedy in its purest form where victim and assassin have a secret understanding Gandhi felt deep despair his method and his course had failed sama / functioning despite his efforts violence between Hindus and Muslims continued and despite his efforts India was fractured into what use was he alive now Gandhi had envisioned an independent India that was self-sufficient and predominantly agrarian Nerys approach was more grounded in economic reality he aimed to combat economic stagnation and dire poverty with state centered planning and industrialization that relied on domestic industry after independence Niro went all out for modernization of India economic modernization in in developing large scale industries in building large dams which he described as the new temples to India which would replace you know the older temples it's difficult to know how Gandhi would have responded to this had he been alive after 1948 and it's likely that Gandhi and their who would have come into some conflict over this because naira didn't really put very much into trying to maintain the the Guardian economic program to this day Gandhi disciples gather on Fridays to spin cotton at his cremation site the same hand wheel the same motions as back then when cotton was spun to create the basis for economic independence today it's more a ritual than a lesson in economic theory Scully's principle of self-sufficiency did prevail until the early 1990s measures like high tariff walls and exchange rate management protected domestic industry from foreign competition but over the past few decades the country has really opened up to the forces of globalization a growing middle class shops at new malls are these the temples of India today if candy returned to India today he would be aghast to see how far the country particularly the middle class has succumbed to Western consumerism he preached the importance of self-sufficiency for each village the defense of the weak and a form of asceticism according to such dictates as don't consume more than you need respect nature there was a clear environmental subtext to Gandhi's message on March the 12th 2005 10 months after returning to power India's Congress party marked the 75th anniversary of the salt March hundreds of people walked in the Mahatma's footsteps following the same 358 kilometer route for 26 days March has done traditional white cardi clothing made of homespun cotton and the iconic Gandhi cap the great-grandson of dibujar lal nehru Rahul Gandhi was 35 at the time of the procession and had only recently entered politics he would go on to become party president he joined the martyrs as they reached the coast in Gujarat seventy-five years to the day that mahatma gandhi shook the British Empire to its core by harvesting a handful of salt whether on 35 millimeter film or on digital video the cameras captured the same scene globalization has swept aside many of Gandhi's principles but the Mahatma's fundamental message has endured a message that speaks of the power of peace forgiveness and freedom and can transcend even the hatred that killed him you