The 'Martyr's Column' at the Gandhi Smriti, the spot where Gandhi was assassinated.
The 'Martyr's Column' at the Gandhi Smriti, the spot where Gandhi was assassinated.
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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is Assassinated by Nathuram Godse

On January 30, 1948, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistaiya, Digambar Badge, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse, Nathuram Godse, and Narayan Apte came to Birla Bhavan (aka Birla House) in Delhi to carry out another attack on Mahatma Gandhi. Except for Madanlal Pahwa and Vishnu Karkare, everyone else reached the venue through the rear entrance in a cab. (Surjeet Singh was the cab driver). Madanlal Pahwa tried to bribe Choturam, the driver at Birla Bhavan, to let him go behind the podium to take pictures of Gandhi. However, Choturam became suspicious and asked Madanlal Pahwa why he needed photographs from behind, and inquired about the absence of a camera. Madanlal Pahwa instead left, making Choturam think he was going back to the taxi; however, he placed a cotton ball enclosing a bomb on the wall behind the podium and ignited it. The bomb went off without creating any panic. The team had left after abandoning Madanlal Pahwa.

On interrogation, Madanlal Pahwa admitted that he was part of a seven member gang who wanted to kill Gandhi. The plan was that Madanlal Pahwa would explode a bomb as close to the podium as possible while Digambar Bagde or Shankar Kishtaiyya would shoot Gandhi in the head during the ensuing panic and stampede, using the chaotic situation to cover their escape. (Vishnu Karkare was to compound the chaos by hurling hand grenades.) Faced with Choturam's suspicious attitude, Digambar Bagde decided at the last minute not to act, and instructed Shankar Kishtaiyya (his servant) to do the same.

Later, Madanlal Phawa led the police to the Marina Hotel where Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte had been staying and also to Sharief Hotel where all other gang members had been staying. Everyone had left by that time and the police were only able to recover some letters and clothes which had the initials "NVG" on it. By this time they were able to ascertain that the members of that team were from Maharashtra; however they were not able to establish the identity and the involvement of Nathuram Godse.

During the Mahatma Gandhi murder trial, Madanlal Pahwa was identified by Mrs. Sulochana Devi, who had come to Birla Bhavan in search of her three year old son (who used to play in the servant quarters). She was the fifteenth witness in the trial, and Surjeet Singh, the driver, was the fourteenth witness.

However, he was not destined to pick up the threads of his constructive Programme. He had a narrow escape on January 20, 1948, when a bomb exploded in Birla House in New Delhi where he was addressing his prayer meeting. He took no notice of the explosion. Next day he referred to the congratulations which he had received for remaining unruffled after the explosion. He would deserve them, he said, if he fell as a result of such an explosion and yet retained a smile on his face and no malice against the assailant. He described the bomb-thrower as a misguided youth and advised the police not to "molest" him but to convert him with persuasion and affection. "The misguided youth" was Madan Lal, a refugee from West Punjab, who was a member of a gang which had plotted Gandhi’s death. These highly-strung Youngman saw Hinduism menaced by Islam from without and by Gandhi from within. Madan Lal having missed his aim, a fellow conspirator from Poona, Nathu Ram Godse, came to Gandhi’s prayer meeting on the evening of January 30, whipped out his pistol and fired three shots. Gandhi fell instantly with the words ‘He Rama’ (Oh! God).