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The Murder of The Mahatma and Other Cases from a Judge's Note-Book
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2

The Crime of Nathuram Godse

The Prelude

Towards the end of 1947 I was appointed by the Government of India to deal with a matter which seemed simple enough to start with, but which, upon closer examination, revealed a complex and difficult pattern. This assignment provided me with the only opportunity I have ever had of meeting Mahatma Gandhi, and conversing with him for a considerable length of time.

The formation of Pakistan and the consequent partition of India led to a large-scale exchange of population. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs were compelled to leave their homes in what had, overnight, become a foreign country for them. They rushed across the border in quite unmanageable numbers, using all available means of transport, and poured into the towns and villages of India in big unruly masses. They wanted houses to live in. The Muslims of India for their part were equally panic-stricken and were leaving for Pakistan. The houses vacated by them were quickly invaded and expropriated by the homeless immigrants. So great was the rush of refugees and so fierce the wrath which impelled them that it was wellnigh impossible to enforce any kind of scheme or order into the chaos which prevailed. Rich and commodious evacuee houses were frequently occupied by ruffianly hooligans who, sometimes, were not even refugees and had taken advantage of the confusion to improve their status by grabbing whatever they could lay their hands on, while law-abiding individuals belonging to a much higher stratum of society remained homeless.


 
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