Nathuram Godse: A Fanatic or a Nationalist?

Today is January 30. It was on this day in the year 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse at 5:17pm when Gandhiji was leaving for evening prayers. To commemorate the death of ‘Father of Nation,’ this day is observed as martyr’s day to remember all the martyrs who died during the freedom struggle and after the independence. A two-minute silence in memory of the martyrs is observed throughout the country at 11am.

For the last few days I was just reading few things on Nathuram Godse. I wanted to know what he thought of Gandhi as a person and what motivated him to kill such a great person?

Gandhiji played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle but his methods and few decisions have been criticised umpteen times. The greatness of his personality lies in the fact that even after 62 years of the independence we can openly criticize him, like him or dislike him. I am not an ardent follower of Gandhiji but respect him for motivating the people of India to join the freedom struggle. If someone will ask me to choose between Netaji and Gandhi, I will choose Netaji.

I read few accounts of Nathuram Godse during his trial and tried to read into his mind. Today, when country is facing troubles from other side of the border, it becomes more fascinating to analyse whether Godse was a Hindu fanatic or out and out nationalist? I am quoting few excerpts (source rediff) from his long statement read out by Godse himself, on November 8, 1948. during his trial. This is what he said:

“The background to the event of 30th January, 1948, was exclusively political. The fact that Gandhiji used to recite during prayers verses from the Gita, the Quran and the Bible never provoked any ill-will in me towards him. In this vast area live people of various faiths and I hold that these creeds should have full and equal freedom for following their beliefs.

“In my writings and speeches I have always advocated that religious and communal considerations should be entirely eschewed in public affairs of the country… I have throughout stood for a secular State with joint electorates.

“I am prepared to concede that Gandhiji did undergo sufferings for the sake of the nation… I shall bow in respect to the service done by Gandhiji to the country and to Gandhiji himself for the said service, and before I fired the shots I actually wished him and bowed to him in reverence

“Since the year 1920, after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhiji’s influence in the Congress became supreme. His activities for public awakening were phenomenal… and were reinforced by the slogans of truth and non-violence. To imagine that the bulk of mankind is or can ever become capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life… is a mere dream. It was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that first checked and eventually destroyed Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely correct tactic for Shivaji to kill Afzal Khan as the latter would otherwise have surely killed him. In condemning Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Gobind as misguided patriots, Gandhiji has merely exposed his self-conceit.

“During more than thirty years of the undisputed leadership of the Mahatma there were more desecration of temples, more forcible and fraudulent conversions, more outrages on women and finally the loss of one third of the country.

“Gandhiji was, paradoxically, a violent pacifist… He had often acted contrary to his professed principles and if it was for appeasing the Muslim, he hardly had any scruple in doing so. By the Act of 1919 separate electorates were enlarged and communal representation was continued not only in the legislative and local bodies but extended even within the Cabinet… Government patronage to Muslims in the name of Minority protection penetrated throughout the body politic of the Indian State and the Mahatma’s slogans were no match against this wholesale corruption of the Muslim mind. The position began to deteriorate and by 1926 it became patent to all that Government had won all along the line but Gandhiji… went on conceding one undemocratic demand after another to the Muslim League in the vain hope of enlisting its support in the national struggle.

“The communal principle became deeply embedded in the Reforms of 1935. Mr Jinnah took the fullest advantage of every situation. During the war, 1939-44, Mr Jinnah… promised to support the war as soon as the Muslims’ rights were conceded; in April 1940, within six months of the War, Mr Jinnah came out with the demand for Pakistan on the basis of the two-nation theory.

“The ’Quit India’ campaign of 1942 had completely failed. Britishers had triumphed and the Congress policy can be quite correctly described as ’Peace at any price’… The Congress compromised with the British who placed it in office and in return the Congress surrendered to the violence of Jinnah, carved out a third of India to him an explicitly racial and theological State, and destroyed two million human beings in the process.

“Gandhiji is being referred to as the Father of the Nation — an epithet of high reverence. But if so, he has failed in his paternal duty… Had Gandhiji really maintained his opposition to the creation of Pakistan, the Muslim League could have had no strength to claim it and the Britishers also could not have created it in spite of all their utmost efforts… The reason was… the people of this country were… vehement in their opposition to Pakistan. But Gandhiji played false with the people. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan.

“…after handing over crores of Hindus to… Pakistan, Gandhiji and his followers have been advising them not to leave Pakistan but continue to stay on. Everyday that dawned brought forth news about thousands of Hindus being massacred… Gandhiji did not even by a single word protest and censure the Pakistani Government…

“About Kashmir, Gandhiji again and again declared that Sheikh Abdullah should be entrusted the charge of the state and that the Maharaja of Kashmir should retire to Benares for no particular reason than that the Muslims formed the bulk of the Kashmiri population. This stands out in contrast with his attitude on Hyderabad where although the bulk of the population is Hindu, Gandhiji never called upon the Nizam to retire to Mecca.

“About this very time he resorted to his fast unto death. Every condition given by him for giving up that fast is in favour of Muslims and against the Hindus. One of the seven conditions was to the effect that all the mosques in Delhi, which were occupied by the refugees, should be vacated… and be made over to the Muslims. Gandhiji got this condition accepted by the Government… Those were the days of bitter or extreme cold and on the day Gandhiji broke his fast, it was also raining.

“Families after families of refugees who had come to Delhi for shelter were driven out and while doing so no provision was made for their shelter and stay.

“The decision to withhold the payment of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan was taken by our government which claims to be the people’s government. But this decision of the people’s Government was reversed to suit the tune of Gandhiji’s fast.

“All his fasts were to coerce Hindus.

“Honourable Pandit Nehruji has himself taken a leading part in the acquiescing to the establishment of Pakistan, a theocratic State. But he should have realised that it will never bring prosperity to the Indian Union with a State founded on fantastically blind religious faith and basis.”

The three judge bench, which was hearing his speech, was silent after Godse finished reading. Justice Khosla, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, wrote after his retirement: “There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs… I have no doubt that had the audience of the day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ’not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority.” (source: rediff)

Now it is upto you to decide, whether Godse was really “guilty or fanatic or nationalist”?

What would have been the situation if there had been no partition is diffult to say. But, one thing is very true that partition has caused many wounds to India in last 62 years. Be it illegal invasion of J&K, or wars in 1965, 1971 then Kargil and now terrorism. Pakistan has become a thorn in flesh for India.

The motive of the partition was to give space to two communities, Hindus and Muslims. But looking after the history of 62 years, I feel that India fares much better than Pakistan or Bangladesh. Pakistan is a failed democracy and is on the path of becoming a terror state. Bangladesh is not doing well either. India is leading the way but is facing great troubles from both these countries.

I also feel that till date the policy of appeasement of minority of Congress is not done away with. But in this process of appeasement and vote bank politics, the divide between Hindus and Muslims is widening with each day. The extremist elements in both the communities are adding fuel to the fire.

The politics of India needs an overhaul. It is mandatory for more and more youth to enter politics and be part of the decision making body because this generation feels and thinks more about the country than about any ideology or community.

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