Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today in history: Hindu fanatic assassinates Mahatma Gandhi

"...People were standing on both the sides and approximately three feet of vacant space was left for the Mahatma to pass through. As per the custom the Mahatma greeted the people with folded hands. 

"He had barely covered six or seven steps when a person whose name I learnt later as Narayan Vinayak Godse, resident of Poona, stepped closer and fired three shots from a pistol at the Mahatma from barely 2 / 3 feet distance which hit the Mahatma in his stomach and chest and blood started flowing. Mahatma ji fell backwards, uttering "Hey-Raam". Nand Lal Mehta
— in the First Information Report recorded on 30 January 1948, at 9.45 p.m.

PM Nehru announced the death of Mahatama Gandhi saying the "light has gone out and darkness is everywhere".

Albert Einstein said of Gandhi: "Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."

The U.S. Secretary of State, General George. C Marshall described the Mahatma as "the spokesman for the conscience of all mankind." 

Gen. Marshall said, "He was a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empire." And in an editorial, The Times of London wrote: "No country but India and no religion but Hinduism could have given birth to a Gandhi."
Mahatma Gandhi with India's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru 
The Mahatma with Mohammed Jinnah whom he embraced and begged to keep India one nation. Jinnah demanded and got the separation of India, creating two independent states - India and Pakistan. Jinnah became the first head of government in Pakistan 
From the GUARDIAN, UK:

Assassination of Mr Gandhi
· Point-blank shots by fanatic
· Riots in Bombay while rest of India mourns
· World-wide messages of grief, Saturday 31 January 1948 13.39 GMT
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a young Hindu extremist while walking to his prayer meeting in the lawn of Birla House, New Delhi, yesterday. He was 78. In India, where only one short outbreak of disorder is reported, a state of mourning will be observed for 13 days; flags will fly at half mast, and no public entertainments will be held.

The news of the assassination has had a profound effect throughout the world. Messages of sympathy have been sent by the King and the President of the United States and by many Premiers. The theme of all comment, whether by statesmen or by the common man, is the same - "a saint," "a giant among men," "irreplaceable."

Mahatma Gandhi was shot and killed this evening by a Hindu fanatic. He was walking from Birla House to the lawn where his evening prayer meetings are held and was several minutes late for the meeting. He was as usual, leaning on the shoulders of two grand-nieces, and when he approached the meeting a man dressed in a khaki bush jacket and blue trousers and standing within five feet of Gandhi greeted him with the customary Hindu salutation of namesteh - that is; with folded hands.

Gandhi smiled at him, and, according to one version, spoke to him. The man then whipped out a pistol from inside his pocket and fired three times at point-blank range. The bullets lodged in Gandhi's chest, stomach and groin. He raised his hands above his head in the same salutation as he fell. He was carried into Birla House and died half an hour later, at about 5.40.

Assasssin beaten by crowd

The man, who gave his name as Nathuram, fired a fourth shot, apparently in an effort to kill himself, but a Royal Indian Air Force sergeant standing alongside jolted his arm and wrenched the pistol away. The sergeant wanted to shoot the man but was stopped by the police. An infuriated crowd fell upon the man and beat him with sticks, but he was apprehended by the police and taken to a police station.

Questioned by reporters, the man, who speaks English, said he was not sorry he had killed Gandhi but would explain his reasons in court. His origin is still obscure, but he is said to be a Brahmin, and according to one report, comes from Poona. The pistol he used was a 38 calibre Biretta of Italian manufacture; scores of these weapons were captured from the Italians in North Africa and smuggled back to India by Indian soldiers. The man is a fair-skinned individual of medium height and spare build aged about 30.

News of Gandhi's death was announced by the All-India Radio at six o'clock and a crowd of several thousands immediately gathered at Birla House. The crowd was tense but subdued, and its mood appeared to be one of stunned sorrow.

Repercussions of the crime are certain to be widespread and intense throughout India and Pakistan. It may produce that change of heart for which Gandhi laboured and gave his life. On the other hand it may stimulate communal frenzy; the presence of 5,000,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan (of whom about 400,000 are in Delhi) has exacerbated public tempers and communal organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh have been active in preaching vengeance against Pakistan.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai