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 Murder Attempts


 

The Second Attempt
Nathuram Attacks the Mahatma, Panchgani.

July 1944, Panchgani :

After his release from the Aga Khan Palace imprisonment in May 1944, Mahatma Gandhi contracted Malaria and was advised rest by his physician. Gandhi retired to Panchgani a mountain resort near Pune famous for its pure air and Parsi boarding schools. He stayed at the Dilkhush Bungalow in Panchgani. A group of 18-20 men reached Panchgani by a chartered bus from Pune and held a daylong protest against the Mahatma and shouted anti Gandhi slogans. When the Mahatma was told about this he invited the leader of this group Nathuram Vinayak Godse for a discussion. Nathuram rejected the invitation and continued with the demonstration.

During The Prayer meeting that evening Nathuram Godse dressed in a Nehru Shirt, Pyjama (a loose Indian pant) and Jacket rushed towards the Mahatma. He was brandishing a dagger in his hand and shouting anti Gandhi slogans. Nathuram was overpowered by Manishankar Purohit, proprietor of the Surti Lodge of Pune and D. Bhillare Guruji of Satara who later became a Congress Legislature form Mahabaleshwar, both swore under oath about the veracity of this attack while deposing before the Kapoor Commission which was set up to investigate the conspiracy angle behind the murder of the Mahatma . The other youth accompanying Godse ran away. This led to a panic in the Prayer meeting but Gandhiji remained calm. He asked Godse to spend 8 days with him so that he could understand Godse’s point of view. Godse rejected this invitation and was allowed to go by a magnanimous Mahatma.

Before leaving Pune Godse had boasted to his journalist friends that some important news concerning Gandhi would soon reach them from Panchgani and it did. Joglekar, a reporter with a Marathi newspaper Agrani, Published and edited by Nathuram Godse from Pune, corroborated this fact. A. David the then Editor of Pune Herald swore on oath while deposing before the Kapoor Commission , that an attempt to murder the Mahatma was carried out by Nathuram Godse at Panchgani that day. The Kapoor Commission rejected this theory because some close associates of the Mahatma who were not present at the said prayer meeting could not corroborate the facts. The police record shows that there were demonstrations against Gandhiji and that Nathuram Godse was held for trying to rush at the Mahatma shouting anti Gandhi slogans but does not state whether he was armed. Dr. Sushila Nayyar The Mahatma’s physician and close associate testified that one of the protesters was found to be carrying a dagger but could not confirm whether it was Nathuram Godse. But the two men who overpowered Nathuram and later went on to hold very responsible posts were clear in their recollection of the incident at separate instances that they caught and disarmed Nathuram Godse.

The fact also remains undisputed that Nathuram Godse was part of an armed gang of protestors and is very likely that the gang consisted of Narayan Apte, Karkare and Gopal Godse, the eventual killers of the Mahatma, and fanatical followers of Savarkar a leader of the right wing Hindu extremists.

- Tushar A. Gandhi.