September 30, 2022

Gandhi Murder Case-2: When accused planned their first attempt to kill Gandhi on 20th January

For better understanding, read this article- Gandhi Murder Case-1: who were the accused and why they conspired to kill Gandhi?

The lawmatics Series- Gandhi Murder Case- Part 2

When Godse shot dead Gandhi, it was not his first and clean attempt. Godse with his companions hatched a conspiracy to kill Gandhi but their first attempt was failed, however, they succeeded in their second attempt.

IST ATTEMPT TO KILL GANDHI

The evidence led in court[1] revealed that the plan was conceived by Godse and Apte in December 1947. In the course of the weeks that followed others joined the small band, and the details of the plan began to be worked out.

The decision to strike was taken on January 13, when it was learnt that Mahatma Gandhi had started his fast to put pressure upon the Government of India and compel it to review its former decision to withhold the payment of 55 crores rupees to Pakistan. When after three days the Government surrendered to Mahatma Gandhi’s demand, and announced its revocation of its previous decision by declaring that the IndoPakistan agreement relating to financial adjustments would be implemented immediately, the conspirators could wait no longer. They hastened to complete their arrangements and achieve the aim they had set before themselves.

The execution of this plan needed forethought, teamwork and a dovetailing of movements and arrangements which were not free from a certain measure of complexity. The first thing that Godse did was to make and assignment of his assets. He himself was unmarried and had no commitments to leave behind when his immortal longings were satisfied. The two persons who were nearest to him, and for whom he felt most concerned were his brother, Gopal, and his friend and associate, Apte. They had joined him in this perilous undertaking, and they ran a grave risk of losing their liberty and possibly their lives.

He held two insurance policies of Rs. 2,000/- and Rs. 3,000/- respectively on his life. On January 13 he nominated Apte’s wife as the beneficiary under the first policy, and on the following day he similarly assigned the second policy for Rs. 3,000/- to his brother’s wife. Then, accompanied by Apte, he left Poona for Bombay, with his mind a little easier in, at least, one respect.

On the same day Badge, accompanied by his servant, Shankar, also left for Bombay. They took with them a bag containing two gun-cotton slabs and four hand-grenades which were deposited for safe custody in the house of Dixitji Maharaj, a prominent nationalist, religious leader and an old patron of Badge. Badge had frequently sold knives and daggers to him for ‘distribution among Hindus living near Muslim States, for their protection’. Badge spent the night at the office of the Hindu Mahasabha, and in the morning Godse and Apte met him there and discussed the details of their plan.

Pahwa and Karkare had been in Bombay since January 10, and they, too, joined the deliberations at the Hindu Mahasabha office. All five of them went to call on Dixitji Maharaj and pick up the bag containing the explosives. Dixitji Maharaj had a friendly talk with his visitors, and believing that the hand-grenades were to be used against the Muslims of Hyderabad, where communal trouble was brewing, went to the length of explaining the best manner of working and throwing a hand-grenade. But when Apte asked him for the loan of a revolver, he made an evasive reply.

The visit of these five persons remained in Dixitji’s memory because of a prediction made by an astrologer that he (Dixitji) would suffer bodily harm on January 17. In fact, on that day, he fell down and hurt himself, and he remembered subsequently that it was just two days before the accident that Badge and his companions had come to visit him. Dixitji was thus able to recall the whole incident and narrate it, complete in all details, when he gave evidence at the trial.

Pahwa and Karkare had no further business in Bombay, and Pahwa wanted to see his relatives in Delhi and discuss with them the question of his marriage. So, these two left Bombay by train on the evening of the 15th. They arrived at Delhi on the 17th, and after a fruitless attempt to get living accommodation at the office of the Hindu Mahasabha engaged a room in a small and inexpensive hotel in Chandni Chowk. While registering their arrival, Karkare gave a false name, describing himself as of B.M. Bias. Pahwa stated his correct name but entered a wrong address in the column ‘Permanent address’.

Badge and his henchman, Shankar, went back to Poona, and after entrusting his arms and explosives to a sympathiser of the Hyderabad State Congress returned to Bombay on the morning of the 17th. There they met Godse and Apte at the railway station in pursuance of a previous appointment. Money was needed for carrying out their project, and they went round Bombay on a campaign of collecting funds. By representing that they needed money for the Hyderabad movement, they succeeded in securing Rs. 2,100/- from a number of persons.

The same afternoon Godse and Apte travelled to Delhi by plane. They bought their tickets under assumed names-Godse representing himself to be D.N. Karmarkar and Apte, S. Marathe. In Delhi they stayed at the Marina Hotel, and abandoning the aliases they had adopted for the air journey registered themselves as S. Deshpande and M. Deshpande. In this hotel they stayed till the 20th. Badge and Shankar travelled to Delhi by train and reached there on the evening of the 19th. They went to the Hindu Mahasabha Bhavan and stayed there.

Gopal Godse was, employed as a store-keeper in an Army depot near Poona. On the 14th he submitted an application for seven days’ leave beginning January 15. The leave was refused on the ground that he was required to appear before a board of officers on the 16th. On the 16th he renewed his application and asked for a week’s leave from the 17th. This was granted, and he was able to reach Delhi on the evening of the 18th. His train was late, and he was fast asleep when it arrived at the New Delhi railway station. His brother, Nathuram, who had come to receive him, thus could not see him. The train went on to Old Delhi, and there Gopal alighted and spent the night on the platform with a group of refugees.

The next morning he went to the Mahasabha Bhavan and met his friends. Arrangements for their stay in the Bhavan were made, and further consultations took place at Pahwa’s hotel in Chandni Chowk. All the seven conspirators had thus arrived in Delhi by the evening of January 19. They had provided themselves with two revolvers, some gun- cotton slabs and several hand-grenades. One of the revolvers was a service weapon which Gopal Godse had with him from the time he had been posted abroad. At Nathuram’s request he had brought it with him, and the other revolver was procured by Badge from Sharma, an old client of his to whom he had formerly sold it. The hand-grenades and gun-cotton slabs were all provided by Badge.

Reference

As mentioned in the book ‘The Murder of Mahatma’ by G.D.Khosla (Formerly Chief Justice of Punjab, who heard the appeal of Nathuram Godse & others and gave his most historic verdict in the case of assassination), First Published: 1965


[1] In Gandhi Murder trial