The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: Inquiry Commission Report (1969)

There are still people who admire Godse for shooting a defenceless, unarmed old man at point blank range in a prayer meeting.. After all, modern society is awash with extremist beliefs, including support for suicide bombers and vigilante violence. Extremism has taken centre-stage in the guise of communal ideology and prejudices. People in high office believe in collective guilt (denouncing entire communities for the sins of a few), controlled mobs, revenge killing and vigilantism. Click the title for Parts 1 & 2 of the Report [of the 6 volume document] of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi by Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur [Supreme Court of India]. The commission was established in 1965 & submitted its report on 30 Sept 1969.

The advent of the Modi-led BJP government has emboldened the ideologues of religion-based nationalism. They apparently feel that the whole country is now ready to celebrate Gandhi's assassination. Several members of the so-called 'Sangh Parivar' have been making statements of this nature, filled with lies, hatred and propaganda. These utterances are an open avowal of political murder by the political allies of the Government of IndiaThey undermine the ethic of lawful government and they corrode the authority and legitimacy of the Indian Union. Those who have been trained in communal half-truths and deceit for decades will not be able to recognise the danger of this new-found bravado of the Godse-brigade. We may only hope that judges, IAS & IPS officers and responsible citizens and opinion makers have the capacity to understand how the Parivar is undermining the integrity of the state... See: The Abolition of truth सत्य की हत्या

The influence of communal hatred extends beyond communal organisations. In 1969 (Gandhi's birth centenary) a Hindi literateur with extreme-left leanings, wrote 'Gandhi benakaab', a pamphlet in which he hailed Godse as a 'true son of India'. It should not surprise us that extremists from left to right coalesce in their hatred for Gandhi (see my article, The Other side of Maoism).  Those interested in the continued currency - despite all their deceitful denials - of the Sangh Parivar's hatred of Gandhi may see the web-page: "HinduUnity' below, where Nathuram Godse is referred to as 'our beloved'; along with VD Savarkar's slogan "Hinduize politics and militarize Hindus!" 

(NB: The above page was removed from circulation, presumably because the 'parivar' now wishes to convey a moderate image of itself. I then found this link as an example of the pride they take in the deed: 

This too has been removed. For all we know they will remove the following link as well:,8599,2055031,00.html

Also note the Savarkarite propaganda employed by Narendra Modi during the 2014 election campaign:

Modi says Congress committed 'sin' of partition // The Non-politics of the RSS

Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur's report on Mahatma Gandhi's assassination was published by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1970. It is a document that has been forgotten in contemporary India. Read below a short background. 'Volume' citations are from Gandhi's Collected Works.

Gandhi had arrived in Delhi from Calcutta in September 1947. He planned to walk to Pakistan, leading Hindu and Sikh refugees back to the homes whence they had fled, and return with Indian Muslims who had left their homes out of fear. He postponed this plan upon realizing the extent of communal violence and hatred in Delhi and its environs. Between January 13 and 18 he undertook a fast – his last, as it turned out – to obtain the return of a shrine to its proper owners. Here's what he said about it on December 22 1947:

“Some eight or ten miles from here, at Mehrauli, there is a shrine of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Chisti. Esteemed as second only to the shrine at Ajmer, it is visited every year not only by Muslims but by thousands of non-Muslims too. Last September this shrine was subjected to the wrath of Hindu mobs. The Muslims living in the vicinity of the shrine for the last 800 years had to leave their  homes. I mention this sad episode to tell you that, though Muslims love the shrine, today no Muslim can be found anywhere near it. It is the duty of the Hindus, Sikhs, the officials and the Government to open the shrine again and wash off this stain on us. The same applies to other shrines and religious places of Muslims in and around Delhi. The time has come when both India and Pakistan must unequivocally declare to the majorities in each country that they will not tolerate desecration of religious places, be they small or big. They should also undertake to repair the places damaged during riots.” (Collected Works vol 98, p 98-99).

The Delhi fast was immensely successful and an agreement emerged for the maintenance of communal harmony. (The story is told elsewhere: see Another time, another mosque). But on January 20, a bomb exploded 75 feet away from the dais at Gandhi’s prayer meeting at Birla House, New Delhi. One Madanlal Pahwa was arrested. Six other men escaped in a taxi. This was the fifth attempt on his life since 1934, and all of them were made by extreme Hindu nationalists.  Gandhi was unruffled. Upon being asked to agree to additional policemen for his meetings, he refused, saying that his life was in the hands of God, that if he had to die, no precautions could save him. He would not agree to restricted entry to his prayer meetings or to anybody coming between his audience and himself. At the next day’s meeting Gandhi said that “the man who exploded the bomb obviously thinks that he has been sent by God to destroy me… He had taken it for granted that I am an enemy of Hinduism. When he says he was doing the bidding of God he is only making God an accomplice in a wicked deed. But it cannot be so… those who are behind him or whose tool he is, should know that this sort of thing will not save Hinduism. If Hinduism has to be saved it will be saved through such work as I am doing. I have been imbibing Hindu dharma right from my childhood” (CW vol 98; 279-81). On January 30, soon after he arrived at his prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse, editor of a Poona-based Marathi journal called Hindu Rashtra, fired three bullets at him at point-blank range and killed him.

On February 4, the Government of India declared the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh unlawful, noting that its members had “indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder.. carried on under a cloak of secrecy.” It accused the Sangh of “exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods.” The communique – that must have been vetted by Home Minister Sardar Patel - went on: “the cult of violence sponsored & inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The and most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. (D.R. 
Goyal 1979; Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, p.202)

The trial of eight conspirators including V.D. Savarkar took place through 1948. Godse made a speech stating his belief in in Savarkar’s ideal of Hindu nationalism, and his conviction that Gandhi was “a political and ethical imposter…a traitor to his faith and his country, a curse to India, a force for evil.., and the greatest enemy not only of Hindus, but of the whole nation.” Parts of the speech suggest that Godse saw himself as an agency of Lord Krishna. Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death in February 1949 and hanged in November. They went to the gallows shouting Akhand Bharat amar rahe, (Long Live United India) not realizing that a united India was also Gandhi’s dearest ideal. Unlike them, however, he did not believe that united India could be a Hindu Rashtra - an Indian version of Hitlers Reich. Five conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment, which in India those days meant fourteen years. Savarkar was acquitted for lack of evidence.

However, doubts remained about the extent of the conspiracy; the behaviour of the
Bombay and Delhi police between January 20 and 30; and the evidence of V.D. Savarkar’s involvement. In 1965, the Government of India set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi, headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court. It examined evidence not produced during the trial, including the testimony of Savarkar's bodyguard Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary Gajanan Vishnu Damle. Had they testified in 1948, Savarkar would have been convicted. The evidence confirmed Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Commission that they visited Savarkar again on or about January 23, upon their return from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle stated that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar “in the middle of January and sat with him in his garden.” Justice Kapur's findings were clear. He noted the deadly negligence of the police. And he concluded that the facts taken together undermined “any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.

Gandhi died standing up, with God’s name on his lips, just as he had wanted to. He had always said that he was prepared to die for his beliefs. His death could have been prevented. Who can say what would have happened if he had been allowed to perform his padyatra to
Pakistan? But it was not to be. “In the eyes of too many officials, he was an old man who had outlived his usefulness: he had become expendable. By negligence, by indifference, by deliberate desire on the part of many faceless people, the assassination had been accomplished. It was a new kind of murder – the permissive assassination, and there may be many more in the future” (Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi; 647). In February 2003, the Indian Union’s highest officials unveiled a portrait of V.D. Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament. Knowingly or otherwise our leaders and representatives have hailed and honoured the man who was a prime accused in the Gandhi murder case. They continue to do so till this day. When we realise that independent India's criminal justice system was inaugurated by a denial of justice to Gandhi, we need not be surprised at its steady deterioration ever since. 
For more Gandhi related posts click here

RSS Declared Unlawful: GOI communique of February 4, 1948
In their resolution of February 4, 1948, the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hatred and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. in pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Chief Commissioner’s provinces. Similar action is also being taken in the Governor’s provinces. As democratic governments the Government of India and the provincial governments have always been anxious to allow reasonable scope for genuine political, social and economic activities to all parties and organisations including those whose policies and purposes differ from, or even run counter to their own, subject to the consideration that such activities should not transgress certain commonly recognised limits of propriety and law.

The professed aims and objects of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are to promote the physical, intellectual and moral well-being of the Hindus and also to foster feelings of brotherhood, love and service amongst them. Government themselves are most anxious to improve the general material and intellectual well-being of all sections of the people and have got schemes on hand which are designed to carry out these objects, particularly the provision of physical training and education in military matters to the youth of the country. Government have, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have not adhered to their professed ideals. 

Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried out by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and and suborn the police and military. These activities have been carried out under the cloak of secrecy, and the government have considered from time to time how far these activities rendered it incumbent upon them to deal with the Sangh in its corporate capacity.

The last occasion when the government defined this attitude was when the Premiers and Home Ministers of provinces met in Delhi towards the end of November.  It was then unanimously agreed that the stage when the Sangh should be dealt with as an association had not yet arrived and that individuals should continue to be dealt with sternly as hitherto. The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself... In these circumstances it is the bounden duty of the government to take effective measures to curb this re-appearance of violence in a virulent form and as a first step to this end, they have decided to declare the Sangh as an unlawful association. Government have no doubt that in taking this measure they have the support of all law-abiding citizens, of all those who have the welfare of the country at heart. (Des Raj Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Delhi, 1979;  2000)

AICC Resolution on Private Armies; dtd November 16, 1947: “The All India Congress Committee has noted with regret that there is a growing desire on the part of some organizations to build up private armies. Any such development is dangerous for the safety of the State and for the growth of corporate life in the nation. The State alone should have its defence forces or police or home guards. The activities of the Muslim National Guards, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Akali Volunteers and such other organizations represent an endeavour to bring into being private armies, (and) must be regarded as a menace to the hard-won freedom of the country.. (Source: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, online; vol 97, p 480).
The Savarkarist syntax - by Anil Nauriya: UNDERLYING THE glorification of Savarkarism by the BJP-RSS-Shiv Sena are changes in the nature and objectives of the major political parties, the cynicism induced by the growing nexus between crime and politics, and the collapse of a compact that had facilitated post-independence politics. The first principle of Savarkarism defines the nation on the basis of religious community. This is reflected in Savarkar's declaration on August 15, 1943: "I have no quarrel with Mr. Jinnah's two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations" (Indian Annual Register 1943 vol 2 p 10). 

The second Savarkarist principle condones killing to make religious community-related points. The German versus Jew analogy is made in Savarkar's writings when speaking of his notion of the Hindu nation and those outside it. The killer aspect of Savarkarism is noted by Sardar Patel. In his February 27, 1948 letter to Nehru, Patel held the fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar responsible for assassinating Gandhi. The same trigger-happiness was evident in the Gujarat carnage (2002) and its aftermath. Whether a murder may be treated as a crime seems to depend, for Savarkarism, upon the self-perceived religious community interests of the killer...
(NB - This article also has details of the manner in which Savarkar was acquitted)

On January 18, Gandhi ended his final fast. Over a hundred representatives of various groups and organizations including the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat-ul-Ulema who had assembled at Rajendra Prasad’s residence, called on Gandhiji at 11.30 a.m. Those present included Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, INA General Shah Nawaz Khan, Hifzur Rahman and Zaheed Hussain, Pakistan’s High Commissioner. Dr. Rajendra Prasad reported that even those who had some doubts on the previous night were confident that they could ask Gandhiji with a full sense of responsibility to break the fast. .

As President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad said that he had signed the document in view of the guarantee which they had all jointly and severally given. Khurshid, the Chief Commissioner and Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Delhi, had signed the document on behalf of the administration. It had been decided to set up a number of committees to implement the pledge. Rajendra Prasad hoped that Gandhiji would now terminate his fast. Deshbandhu Gupta described scenes of fraternization between Hindus and Muslims which he had witnessed when a procession of Muslims was taken out that morning in Subzimandi and was received with ovation and offered fruit and refreshments by the Hindu inhabitants. A seven-point declaration in Hindi was read out solemnly affirming the people’s desire for communal harmony and civic peace. This read as follows:

Extracts from two CPI pamphlets issued in September/October 1947:
Bleeding Punjab Warns by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri
“What happened in the Punjab cannot be called a riot. It was a regular war of extermination of the minorities, of the Sikhs and Hindus in Western Punjab and of Muslims in East Punjab. It cannot be compared to Calcutta or Noakhali, Bihar, or even to Rawalpindi for in all these cases it was mobs of one community that took leading part in killing, looting and burning the minority in the area, their communal passions being roused to a pitch of frenzy and savagery.. In the Punjab, however, in the recent biggest killing ever seen, it was the trained bands equipped with firearms and modern weapons that were the main killers, looters and rapers. These were the storm troops of various communal parties such as National Guards of the Muslim League in the Western Punjab, and the Shahidi Dal of the Akalis and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of the Mahasabha in the Eastern Punjab. They were actively aided and often actually led by the police and the military in committing the worst atrocities.. in violence and in brutality, in the numbers killed (which Syt Shri Prakasha, India’s Ambassador to Pakistan places at 1 ½ lakhs) in the use of plenty of modern deadly weapons, in the devastation spread over 14 districts of the Punjab and in the way in which the police, the military and the entire administration was geared not to stop the riots but to spread it – the Punjab tragedy is without parallel.. p 5-6 of a printed CPI report ‘Bleeding Punjab Warns’ by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri - September 1947. (Comrade Dhanwantri was a comrade of Bhagat Singh; President of the Lahore Distt Congress Committee and communist leader of Punjab)

The Swayam Sevaks: Protagonists of the Sangh believe that accusations directed at the RSS are political, and therefore dubious. That may be true, but so too are its protestations of innocence. As regards Sardar Patels observations in February 1948 on the RSS"As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case 
relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure."

There were intelligence reports about the Sangh’s plans for terror. The AICC resolution of November 16, 1947 referred to the RSS, the Muslim National Guard and the Akali Volunteers as “private armies”, a menace to India’s freedom. As we have seen, the Government's ban on the RSS on February 4, 1948, clearly stated:"The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victimsThe latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”.

There is evidence that the surface facts concealed many things.
Ramachandra Guha, citing data from police archives, writes:

The RSS, on the other hand, wanted to complete the process of ethnic cleansing. So said a sub-inspector of the Delhi Police named Bhagwan Das Jain. A mole inside the RSS, Jain reported on October 24 that the Sangh saw in the unsettled conditions the chance to take a bold step towards the establishment of Hindu rule in India. As he wrote, "according to the Sangh volunteers, the Muslims would quit India only when another movement for their total extermination similar to the one which was started in Delhi sometime back would take place". The RSS men, he continued, "were waiting for the departure of Mahatma Gandhi from Delhi as they believed that so long as the Mahatma is in Delhi, they would not be able to precipitate their designs into action". By early November, Golwalkar himself was camped in Delhi, planning for future action. In a speech in Ramjas College, he noted with satisfaction that the RSS membership had increased by 2,500 in a single month. He told his audience to be prepared for the fight ahead. On December 6, Golwalkar convened a meeting of RSS workers in Govardhan, near Delhi. The police report on this meeting remarks that "the (RSS) workers are alleged to have discussed the ways and means of capturing the seats in the government... It is also alleged that one of its (the RSS's) programme(s) would be to assassinate the leading persons of the terrorise the public and to get their hold over them"

Here is an extract from the same archive: It is a CID report dated 27 Dec 1947 of a secret meeting of RSS members in Delhi on December 8, 1947, addressed by “guruji’ Golwalkar, who is quoted by a 'source' as saying: "The Sangh will not rest until it had finished Pakistan. If anyone stood in our way we will have to finish him too, whether it was Nehru government or any other government. The Sangh could not be won over. They should carry on their work. Referring to Muslims he said that no power on earth could keep them in Hindusthan. They shall have to quit this country. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to keep the Muslims in India so that the Congress (may) profit by their votes at the time of election. But, by that time, no a single muslim will be left in India. If they were made to stay here, the responsibility would be Government’s, and the Hindu community would not be responsible. Mahatma Gandhi could not mislead them any longer. We have the means whereby such men can be immediately silenced, but it is our tradition not to be inimical to Hindus. If we are compelled, we will have to resort to that course also." 
Delhi Police Archive on RSS activity in October-December 1947

In his February 27, 1948 letter to Nehru on Gandhi's assassination, (vol 6 Selected Correspondence of Sardar Patel; edited by Durga Das) Patel held that "it was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that hatched the conspiracy and saw it through" (p 56)In the same letter, reflecting on the problem of identifying RSS members, he wrote "in the case of secret organisation like the RSS which has no records of membership, no registers etc., securing of authentic information whether a person is an active member or not is a very difficult task.." (p 57)

As to whether Nathuram Godse was in the RSS or not, who is the best person to disclose that historical fact? His brother Gopal Godse, who was also involved in the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi and who clearly revealed that all the brothers (Godse brothers) were in the RSS – Nathuram Godse, Dattatreya, Gopal Godse and Govind did not leave the RSS. A reference is to be made to an article titled "Godse–RSS link reflected Cowardice" (Frontline, January 28, 1994).

The whole truth emerged 46 years later, in December 1993, with the publication of the book,Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi by the brother of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram. Gopal Godse, speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release said that he and his brother had been active members of the RSS. Godse also said: "All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us… Nathuram had become abaudhik karyavah (intellectual worker) in the RSS." When Godse was asked about Advani’s claim that Nathuram had nothing to do with the RSS, Godse replied: "I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution, saying that, ‘go and assassinate Gandhi.’ But you do not disown him (Nathuram). The Hindu Mahasabha did not disown him. In 1944 Nathuram started doing Hindu Mahasabha work when he had been a baudhik karyavah in the RSS." Savarkar and Golwalkar shared a number of platforms. Photographs are available showing both of them sharing platforms in Pune in 1952. 
For more details on the RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and the national movement see:

Interviews + transcripts

Godse's RSS connections
backgrounder on RSS

As for their attitude towards historical truth, here are details regarding the Parivars attempt to censor Gandhi's works: Report of the first NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes were noticed by scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed these changes as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud, now director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005.


The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

The Aseemanand tapes - Caravan ...

Popular posts from this blog

Third degree torture used on Maruti workers: Rights body

Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus (1940)

Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism

Rudyard Kipling: critical essay by George Orwell (1942)

Three Versions of Judas: Jorge Luis Borges

Goodbye Sadiq al-Azm, lone Syrian Marxist against the Assad regime