October 2, 2022

When G.D.Khosla, a Judge in Gandhi’s Murder Case, went to meet Mahatma Gandhi

Punjab High Court Judge G.D. Khosla was appointed as the custodian of Evacuee properties after partition. The situation was very worst before the Judge, and everybody wanted to seek shelter to live or work because it was the time of winter and people were also tired from living in open and camps, they had also the thinking that Muslims who left for Pakistan, will not come back to their houses. But, infact most of muslims evacuated their houses to avoid any killing on themselves and only one or two persons of family were living there to save the houses.

Justice Khosla

Justice Khosla recounted his experience as crazy nightmare, many of shelter seekers were known to him. In such a situation, Justice Khosla decided to take the suggestion from father of the nation and went to meet him. Justice khosla wrote this visit in his book ‘the murder of Mahatma’. Here is ‘book excerpt’.

“I began to entertain doubts about what was just in the circumstances. Should I let the homeless people occupy the empty houses? Should I allow the Muslims to be chased out of India as Hindus and Sikhs had been chased out of Pakistan? I didn’t know what answer to make to the people who importuned me daily, asking for what, they said, was theirs by right.

In my perplexity, I sought Mahatma Gandhi’s advice. He was in those days living in Mr. Birla’s house on Albuquerque Road, and held prayer meetings every evening. I telephoned his secretary, and though he was very busy and had a crowded programme of visits, interviews and discussions with political leaders, he agreed to receive me at 11 o’clock the following morning.

I wondered if I should be able to place my problem before the Mahatma and explain it various aspects. There was within me a genuine desire, a pardonable curiosity to meet the great man who had done more to achieve political freedom for India than the rest of the country put together.

So, the next morning I drove to Birla House, well before the appointed time. While waiting in the ante-room, I asked the official present if I should speak to the Mahatma in English or in Hindi. ‘Hindi, of course,’ was the immediate and categorical reply. I felt more at home in English, but I accepted the inevitable, and began formulating sentences which would adequately express my meaning. After a moment or two I abandoned the attempt, telling myself that I should manage somehow. I had heard Gandhiji did not like being addressed as ‘Mahatma”. I asked the official what was the correct form of address. ‘Call him Bapuji,’ he said. There was a touch of scorn in his tone at such crass ignorance on the part of a High Court Judge.

I removed my shoes and tried to compose myself. Exactly at 11 I was called. I hurried into the room where Gandhiji was sitting on the carpeted floor. He wore only a handspun loin-cloth, and from the waist upwards his body was bare. He was thin, but my no means emaciated. Indeed, his skin had a fresh, healthy lustre, and his well-massaged muscles rested firmly on his limbs, giving his body an appearance of youth and quiet vigour. His face was almost completely free form wrinkles, except when he laughed. A standard electric lamp stood behind him, and its light came down in a broad cone lighting up his bald head and the shapely curves of his small shoulders. As I entered, he put down the paper on which he had been writing, and greeted me in the usual manner with folded hands.

I sat down near him and began to tell him of my assignment and the difficulties I had encountered. It was a long story and Bapu listened without interrupting me. And while I was speaking, and independent mental process started within me. I was becoming aware that there was no mysterious power of hypnotic force to which I was being subjected. I had not entered a strange magnetic field. No spiritual medium charged with a compelling tension surrounded me. Bapu was listening to me just as any other man might. The realisation of this fact lent courage and plausibility to my argument, though, by now, I knew that I was advocating a false plea based on false premises and an emotional urge.

I concluded by saying: ‘The Muslims in the Old Fort camp have no wish to stay in this country. They told me, when I visited them, that they would like to go to Pakistan as soon as possible. Our own people are without houses or shelter. It breaks my heart to see them suffering like this, exposed to the elements. Tell me, Bapuji, what should I do?’ My carefully delivered appeal sounded hollow in my own ears.

‘When I go there,’ he replied, ‘they do not say that they want to go to Pakistan. They say to me that if we cannot keep them in their own homes, we should send them to Afghanistan, to Iran, to Arabia, anywhere except to Pakistan. They are also our people. You should bring them back and protect them: He had spoken in a calm matter-of-fact voice. What I heard was not a command, but a simple statement of truth, uttered in a tone which had in it more of humility than of authority. But what surprised me most was that he did not seem to be making a final pronouncement. He had said: ‘You should bring them back and protect them’, but he kept the discussion open. I mentioned other facts, other difficulties. He pointed out the flaws in my argument. He did not digress into a highfalutin moral discourse, but kept to the practical problem I had placed before him.

And as he went on talking, understanding came to me that this man had only one sentiment, one passion, one source of strength within him and that was a deep and pervading feeling of love. He loved Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians alike. He loved the British who had ruled over us for 150 years, he loved the Pakistanis who had hounded out millions of Hindus from their ancestral homes. He never once uttered the word ‘love’, but when he looked at me there was a softness in his eyes-and the trace of a smile on his mouth. I felt ashamed.

When I left him after having spent thirty minutes in his company, I knew what I had to do. Bapu was completely, utterly right, just as he had been right in insisting that we fulfil our promise to pay Pakistan 550 million rupees, even though the money would almost certainly be spent to procure arms for use against India.”

Reference

‘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