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Nathuram Vinayak Godse ( ) (May 19, 1910 – November 15, 1949) is best known for being the man who assassinated Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Early life

Nathuram Godse was born in Baramatimarker, Pune District. His father, Vinayak Vamanrao Godse, was a post office employee and his mother was Lakshmii (nee Godavari). At birth, he was named Ramachandra.

A commonly held theory suggests that Nathuram was given his name because of an unfortunate incident. Before he was born, his parents had three sons and a daughter, with all three boys dying in their infancy. Fearing a curse that targeted male children, young Ramachandra was brought up as a girl for the first few years of his life, including having his nose pierced and being made to wear a nose-ring ("Nath" in Marathi). It was then that he earned the nickname "Nathuram" (literally "Ram with a nose-ring"). After his younger brother was born, they switched to treating him as a boy. However, other biographers dismiss this claim, together with claims that Godse was a homosexual, as a fabrication by the Congress Party of India, meant to exploit the prejudices against transvestites and homosexuals in conservative Indian society in order to demonize Godse.

Nathuram Godse attended the local school at Baramati through the fifth standard, after which he was sent to live with an aunt in Punemarker so that he could study at an English-language school. During his school days, Gandhi was an idol to him.

In 1930, Nathuram's father was transferred to the town of Ratnagirimarker. While staying with his parents at Ratnagiri, the young Nathuram first met Veer Savarkar, a proponent of Hindutva.

Godse's political career



Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with the Hindu Mahasabha. He was an RSS activist; whether he left the organization is controversial. They were particularly opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League. Godse started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, which some years later was renamed Hindu Rashtra.

The Hindu Mahasabha had initially backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government.

Godse and his mentors later turned radical and rejected Gandhi, as they felt that Gandhi was sacrificing Hindu interests in an effort to appease Muslim interests. They blamed Gandhi for the Partition of India, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the wake of religious unrest.

Assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi

Godse assassinated Gandhi on January 30, 1948, approaching him during the evening prayer, bowing, and shooting him three times at close range with a Beretta semi-automatic pistol. After the incident, he made no attempt to escape, surrendering himself to the police. It is said that he was angry when Gandhi agreed to give 520 million rupees to the newly formed Pakistan. Godse was opposed to this decision as he believed Pakistan had achieved independence by inciting religious animosity between Hindus and Muslims, thus destabilizing the whole region.

Trial and execution

Following his assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning May 27, 1948. During the trial, he did not defend any charge and openly admitted that he killed Gandhi after a long disposition on his reasons for assassinating Gandhi./www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=365>{{cite news | url =http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=365 | title =Godse's Final Words to the Court | work =May it please Your Honour | date = 8 November 1948} On November 8, 1949, Godse was sentenced to death. Godse's legal team was savaged by critics for not introducing considerable evidence that their client was mentally unbalanced and/or manipulated by others. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as Gandhi's two sons, who felt that the two men on trial were pawns of RSS higher-ups, and in any case, executing their father's killers would dishonor his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949, along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released. Godse stipulated that his ashes were not to be deposited in a body of water according to Hindu dictates, but rather were to be held in storage until they could be deposited in the Sindhumarker river after Pakistanmarker had been reunited with India .

Aftermath

Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination. Massive anti-Brahmin riots spread, especially across Maharashtra state, as Godse was a Brahmin. The Sanglimarker and Mirajmarker regions were hit harder. Houses of Brahmins were burned, looted and a number of people died. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse's plot . The RSS ban was lifted by Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1949.

The RSS to this day denies any connection with Godse and dispute the claim that he was a member.

After the assassination, many criticized the Indian government for not doing more to protect Gandhi who, earlier in the week, had been the target of a bomb plot by the same conspirators who later shot him. Of particular concern was the fact that a Bombay detective had wired the names and descriptions of the assassins along with the fact that they were known to be in Delhi stalking Gandhi. On the other hand, the Mahatma had repeatedly refused to cooperate with his own security and had resigned himself to a violent death which he accepted as an inevitable part of his destiny.

A film, Nine Hours to Rama, was made in 1963 and was based on the events leading up to the assassination, seen mainly from Godse's point of view. The film Hey Ram, made in 2000, also briefly touches upon events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language drama Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy ("I am Nathuram Godse, Speaking") was also made from Godse's point of view.

Notes

References

  • Nathuram Godse — Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, Surya Bharti, Delhi, India, 2003.
  • Nathuram Godse — May it Please Your Honor!, Surya Bharti, India, 2003.
  • Khosla, G. D. — Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's Notebook, Jaico Publishing House, 1968. ISBN 0-88253-051-8.
  • Koenraad Elst — Gandhi and Godse - a Review and a Critique, Voice of India, 2001. ISBN 8185990719
  • Y. D. Phadke — Nathuramayan


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