Two books being released today throw fresh light on conspiracy to kill Gandhi

"Let Us Kill Gandhi" by the Mahatma's great grandson Tushar Gandhi and " The Murderer, The Monarch and The Fakir" by Appu Esthose Suresh and Priyanka Kotamraju connect the dots in the conspiracy

Funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi, 1948
)Funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi, 1948

Afresh revised edition of 'Let’s Kill Gandhi' by Tushar Gandhi is being launched on October 2 this year. Another new book, 'The Murderer, The Monarch And The Fakir’, co-authored by Appu Esthose Suresh and Priyanka Kotamraju is also being launched on the same day. Publishing circles are abuzz and claim both books break new ground in exposing the conspiracy behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Both books also draw heavily from reports of the J.L. Kapur Commission. Suresh and Kotamraju were given access to classified IB reports, denied to TG because of the Official Secrets Act.

The author of 'Let’s Kill Gandhi' happens to be a great-grandson of the Mahatma. The new edition, he says, establishes that the firearm that was used to assassinate Gandhi was handed over to Nathuram Godse by the Aide de Camp (ADC) of a maharaja (ruler of an Indian princely state). Five maharajas--three from Rajputana (Rajasthan), one from Madhya Pradesh and one from Gujarat, the books say, facilitated the killing.

TG points at persistent efforts by the RSS to distance itself from the assassination. In 2017, Pankaj Phadnis, a trustee of the Pune-based Abhinav Bharat, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a reinvestigation into the Gandhi murder case. He claimed that Godse and his accomplice Narayan Apte were not the only assassins present at Birla House that day. He avowed that there was another mysterious killer and it was the ‘fourth bullet’ fired by him that claimed Mahatma Gandhi's life.

The Savarkarites have for a long time been attempting to clear up his role in the assassination and the conspiracy. The ‘fourth bullet theory’ is their latest attempt, says TG.

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The attempt failed because the Supreme Court appointed an amicus curiae, Amarendra Sharan, to go into the records. After studying more than 4,000 pages closely, Sharan came to the conclusion that there was no fourth bullet, no other firearm and no mystery killer either.

Others have been questioning the 50-minute delay between the assassination and the official announcement of Gandhi’s death. “But the 50-minute gap is easily explained. Everyone was too traumatised to come to terms with the assassination--there was a constant stream of visitors to Birla House and the government was trying to establish the identity of the killer,” says TG.

1948 had no TV, social media and ‘Breaking News’. There was only the All India Radio (AIR) then and they never interrupted their programmes for anything, he explains.

The government in fact might never have established the identity of Gandhiji's assassin because Godse, after being overpowered by people, had shut up and would not say a word. He would not even give his name.

The conspirators wanted to give the impression that it was a Muslim who had killed Mahatma Gandhi. But among the people who rushed to Birla House on hearing of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was Anna Kakasaheb Gadgil, the father of former Congress spokesperson VN Gadgil. He asked about the identity of the killer and was told, “We do not know. He is not speaking. He is sitting silently in that room over there.”

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Kakasaheb decided to take a peek into the room. He too hailed from Pune, as did Godse and had often come across the assassin at events in that city. The moment he caught sight of the man, he let out a loud wail and said, "O-o-o-o Nathya! Hey tu kai kela!” (O Nathuram, what is this that you have you done). Nathya in Marathi being the short and more intimate form of addressing Nathuram.

The moment people at Birla House realised the identity of the killer, they dragged him to Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel and it was soon established that the assassin was a Hindu, not Muslim.

News bulletins on All India Radio, recalls Tushar Gandhi, had a fixed and established format. The announcement should have said, "Mahatma Gandhi is dead. He was shot at 5.17 pm at a prayer meeting.” But if you listen to that recording, the announcer clearly says, "A Hindu Brahmin today shot three bullets into Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi is dead.”

The government of the day left no doubts in the minds of the people about the identity of the killer, thus defeating the conspiracy. “What the RSS could not accomplish then, it is attempting to do now by vilifying both Gandhiji and Nehru, floating the 50-minute gap theory and hoping it will catch fire,” says TG.

“The only lapse was that the government chose not to go in for an autopsy; If they had done so, then there would have been no room for a fourth bullet theory. But all the three shells were recovered and there was never a fourth one," points out TG.

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When I point out that RSS ideologues keep enacting the Gandhi assassination every January 30 by pumping more than three bullets into his cut-outs, TG says, “Frankly, I prefer that kind of open hate to expressions of reverence by some while they are simultaneously setting about destroying everything Gandhiji stood for.”He blames “People Like Us" for not doing enough to save the Gandhi legacy. “Apart from Rahul Gandhi, you point out one political leader who makes as much sense or takes on the RSS so consistently and I will eat my words,” he declares.Whenever the RSS and its affiliates undertook any campaign, liberals dismissed them as the loony fringe. “But now we have become the fringe and the bigots are today the mainstream.”

TG points to the reluctance of many Congressmen to support or come to the aid of Rahul Gandhi in his fight against the RSS. “Just look at how they are vilifying Nehru. How many Congressmen have tried to take on the RSS on their lies that Nehru was Muslim? Was one FIR filed against anybody? Did even one of the many stalwart legal eagles in the Congress go to the court against that falsehood and vilification?”

“Look back at Gandhiji's salt satyagraha. No Congress leader agreed with him, neither Nehru nor Patel nor anybody else. They thought it would be suicidal to their cause and told him so; but he remained unconvinced. Yet when he decided to go ahead, all Congress leaders stood by him firmly and he was surprisingly proved right. Where is that spirit today?”

Does he think there is hope for India? “Frankly speaking, I feel the situation is already beyond repair. But I am a hardcore Gandhian and Gandhians never lose hope, so I will hope for the best. If Gandhiji had lost hope at any point of time during the freedom struggle through the worst happenings, we would not have been able to throw out the British.”

"Already the RSS propaganda has captured many young minds. For any of us to be afraid of the consequences, afraid of speaking the truth or remain indifferent will be disastrous,” he says as a parting shot.

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