Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nathuram Vinayak Godse (Marathi: नथूराम विनायक गोडसे) (May 19, 1910November 15, 1949) was the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.

Early life
Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with the Hindu Mahasabha. Godse was an RSS activist who, according its leadership, left the organisation before the assassination. They were particularly opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League. Godse started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, some years later renamed Hindu Rashtra.
The Hindu Mahasabha had initially backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government.
However, Godse and his mentors later rejected Gandhi. They felt that Gandhi was sacrificing Hindu interests in an effort to appease minority groups. They blamed Gandhi for the bloody Partition of India, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead.

Nathuram Godse Godse's political career

The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
The immediate motive for the assassination is usually ascribed to Gandhi's decision to fast to the death unless the Indian central government reversed a decision to withhold the transfer of 55 crore (550 million) rupees to the government of Pakistan. The transfer had been specified in the partition agreement, but the Indian government had refused to complete it, complaining of continued Pakistani rebel occupation of disputed parts of Kashmir.
The Indian government immediately reversed its decision to withhold the funds, which infuriated Godse and his fellow Hindu radicals.
It is not clear whether the decision to assassinate Gandhi was taken by Godse alone, or whether he had consulted with other Mahasabha members, or even received their help in carrying out the assassination. The Mahasabha resolutely denied all complicity, and Godse took full responsibility. However, many critics believe that Godse did not act alone.

Following his assassination of Gandhi, Godse, who did not try to flee, was captured and put on trial beginning May 27, 1948. On November 8, 1949 Godse was sentenced to death for the killing. He was hanged at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949 along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator.

The trial and execution
Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination. Massive anti Brahmin riots spread, especially across the length and breadth of Maharashtra state, as Godse was a Bramhin. Sangli and Miraj regions were hit harder. Houses of Brahmins were burnt, people killed and families destroyed just because they shared the same caste as Godse. The Maratha protagonists were largely supposed to be behind the arson. Culprits for the riots went on scot free to date. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, later 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 Jawaharlal 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; they say that Godse was definitely a member of the Congress Party, and that if any party should be blamed, it should be the Congress, not the RSS.
Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released.
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 the events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language drama "Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy" (This is Nathuram Godse Speaking) was also made from Godse's point of view.
Noted historian Y D Phadke has written a comprehensive book- "Nathuramayan"-on the sorriest chapter in Indian history. He has debunked all the myths created by Hindu fundamentalists around Godse.

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