In Gandhi’s name

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated less than six months after he won Independence for India through a non-violent struggle that gave the first and fatal knockout punch to the British Empire.

Not only did India, after centuries of foreign rule, get independence but the successive years saw the Europeans’ empires crumbling, colonialism around the world facing adversity and nations under foreign yoke started seeing the dawn of freedom.

Gandhi and India led the way to global transformation and freedom, free from the scourge of exploitation, imperialism and colonialism. Year 1947 turned out to be the dawn of a new global era marked by assertion of the nationalistic spirit from Asia to Africa to Latin America. Gandhi, unquestionably, led this world movement from the front.

Tragically, in less than six months after he won freedom for India, the Mahatma was assassinated at Birla House in the national capital when he reached up there in his loincloth for the daily prayers.

The Hindu Mahasabha took responsibility for the cold-blooded murder and its activist Nathuram Godse voluntarily gave himself up to the Police, admitted before court he did murder and faced the gallows without remorse two years thence. Seventy years later, the ghost of Gandhi is being exorcised with ulterior motives; and involved in the exercise are obviously two sets of the Hindu fundamentalist groups known as the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, possibly alongside their political arm the BJP, to make political capital out of the controversy.

It was long-established that Godse fired three bullets from his Beretta 9mm pistol directly into Gandhi’s chest, and he did this from point blank range, disturbing the peace of the prayer meet that the father of the nation was participating in.

A new theory that has of late been advanced is that there was a fourth bullet fired on Gandhi by someone other than Godse. The Bombay High Court threw out the case filed by researcher Pankaj Fadnis who demanded a fresh probe into the Gandhi assassination.

The Hindu Mahasabha is enraged, saying this is an attempt to rob it of the credit for assassinating Gandhi, and it suspects Fadnis is under prompting from the RSS-BJP. What comes now as a new turn in the case is that the Supreme Court this past week named additional solicitor general Amarendra Sharan as amicus curiae to go through the documents in the possession of Fadnis by way of proof to reinforce his claim. This is to ascertain if there, prima facie, is a ground for a fresh probe into Gandhi’s assassination.

The court is duty-bound to respond to an issue of this nature, and it is well within its limits to take a close look into the matter. History is replete with distortions, and it is not uncommon that untruths are traded as absolute truths. All the same, by any figment of imagination, it is undisputable that Gandhi was killed by Godse.

A fourth bullet has no relevance in the overall scheme of things. A possible attempt now could be to draw the image of another “hidden hand” in the assassination of the father of the nation. This is understandable in some respects.

For one, the RSS and its first political arm the Jan Sangh had languished on the sidelines of Indian politics and nationalism for many decades after Independence for the reason people saw blood on their hands.

They were understandably condemned by large sections of Indians, and others too, for the heinous way India’s Independence hero was done to death at the hands of a pro-Hindutva ideologue. The grouse against Gandhi was that he was being too sympathetic to Moslems, and that he was a party to the British decision of the partition of the subcontinent resulting in massive violence and killing of Hindus – as also Moslems.

Even today, the RSS and its political arm carry this stigma, though they were never directly linked to the assassination. This is because the Hindu Mahasabha cannot be divorced from the Saffron brigade, and all these organisations act in unison as promoters of the cause of Hinduism.

By bringing in the “fourth bullet” story, the attempt could be to reignite passions. In recent months, the Narendra Damodardas Modi led BJP government at the Centre has started facing the wrath of the people.

Too many false promises and an utter neglect of the poor has been forcing the average citizen to introspect and even those, who a few months ago were staunch supporters of Modi and his empty rhetoric, have commenced to turn away. Reality cannot be hidden for long.

The boomerang is on its return path. To avoid getting their heads sliced, the BJP-RSS has, probably, thought the ‘4th Bullet’ may help salvage their crumbling dreams. Time alone will tell.

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