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FTR #988 Hindutva Fascism, Part 1: The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Part 1 and and FTR #989 Hindutva Fascism, Part 2: The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Part 2

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FTR #988: This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

FTR #989: This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: In past programs, we have analyzed the Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) fascist character of the RSS and its political front the BJP, the party of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In past discussions of the RSS and BJP, we have noted the following:

  1. Modi’s political fortunes were boosted with support and financing from Pierre Omidyar, who also helped finance the rise of the OUN/B fascists in Ukraine.
  2. Modi and his BJP are viewed with great favor by Breitbart kingpin, former Trump campaign manager and adviser Steve Bannon. A number of Trump’s business associates in India are associated with the BJP.
  3. Bernie Sanders’ prospective Vice-Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard helped arrange the details for Modi’s American visit and is networked with the RSS.
  4. Under Modi, anti-Muslim violence has dramatically accelerated, while free speech has been attenuated. BJP members have celebrated Gandhi’s murder.

An entity patterned after Mussolini’s Blackshirts, the RSS was the organization that spawned the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Fascist organizations generally demonize a “malevolent other,” in the case of the RSS, it was India’s large Muslim population. (Before gaining independence, India and the modern nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of one large British colony.

The disturbing facts concerning Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of the RSS and its ideological leader V.D. Savarkar was related by James Douglass in Gandhi and the Unspeakable. (Douglass is also the author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters–a book we have used on numerous occasions.)

In this program we set forth key features of the assassination of Gandhi including:

  1. The Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) fascist ideology of the RSS, the organization inspired by, and presided over, by V.D.Savarkar,which–along with its ideological leader–were deeply involved with Gandhi’s murder.
  2. The RSS’s organizational and ideological affinity with Mussolini’s Blackshirts.
  3. The organization’s (and Savarkar’s) cooperation with the British, whom Savarkar saw as potential partners in an “Aryan Empire.”
  4. The close relationship between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, a paramilitary organization that participated in the British colonial military during World War II and subsequently assumed prominence in the fledgling Indian national security establishment.
  5. The laxity of Indian police officials in pursuing an investigation into Gandhi’s killers following an earlier attempt at slaying the Mahatma.
  6. The apparent sympathy of complicit Indian security officials, many of whom had affinity with the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha.
  7. The apparent complicity of Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Home Minister Patel in the killings–failing to enact basic, formalized security procedures that would have protected.
  8. The complicity of the Indian court trying Gandhi’s killers in obscuring the fundamental participation of Savarkar in the assassination conspiracy.
  9. The court’s acquiescence in allowing Gandhi’s self-confessed assassin Nathuram Godse (Savarkar’s personal secretary) to read a nine-hour condemnation of Gandhi and implicit defense of the Mahatma’s murder.
  10. The subsequent rehabilitation of Savarkar’s political reputation after the BJP (a political cat’s paw for the RSS) assumed power in India.
  11. The Orwellian re-write of Indian text books to omit any reference to the Hindutva fascist role in Gandhi’s killing.

We flesh out key points of expose and argument in greater detail:

  1. Initially a revolutionary opponent of the British colonial authority, V.D. Savarkar underwent a metamorphosis, in which he came to . . . . hope for an Indo-British alliance based on a shared racial background that would transform the British Empire into the ‘Aryan Empire.’ . . . . he and other revolutionary leaders were now ready and willing to be friends of the British Empire if it equipped India with a form of government vital for her freedom. . . .”
  2. Next, we highlight the founding of the RSS by Savarkar acolyte K.B. Hedgewar: ” . . . . Hedgewar consulted with Savarkar on how to implement his Hindu nationalist vision. Following their discussion, Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ‘the Organization of National Volunteers,’ whose innocuous name covered an organization that consciously copied the strategy of Mussolini’s fascist Blackshirts. . . .”
  3. It is important to note that Gandhi’s future assassin–Nathuram Godse–parlayed copying the writings of Savarkar to becoming his personal secretary and heading an “academic department” of a branch of the RSS.
  4. One of the organizations that worked closely with the RSS and which was a foundational element of the RSS’s military substance and later prominence in the national security establishment of the Indian state was the Hindu Mahasabha. “. . . . In the 1930s, Savarkar helped create the anti-Muslim, military oriented Hindu Mahasabha organization. . . . When the Second World War began, Savarkar urged Hindu youths to join the British-led armed forces so they could be ‘re-born into a martial race.’ His 1940s slogan wed Hindu nationalism with the war effort: ‘Hindhuise all politics and militarize Hindudom.’ . . . .”
  5. The Hindu Mahasabha RSS deeply infiltrated the national security apparatus of the fledgling Hindu state, setting the stage for Gandhi’s murder: ” . . . Savarkar’s followers held cabinet and administrative positions in the government. Hindu Mahasabha and RSS extremists had also infiltrated India’s security forces. Key police officials were more committed to an exclusively Hindu nation than they were to Gandhi’s democratic ideal of a diverse, secular union. . . .”
  6. A key development in the progression of events culminating in Gandhi’s murder was a previous assassination plot against him. Although this plot failed, the group of assassins-to-be (including Nathuram Godse) regrouped and successfully murdered Gandhi in New Delhi days later.
  7. Gandhi’s killing took place in spite of the fact that Madanlala Pahwa, one of the conspirators in the earlier, failed plot, rolled over and became state’s evidence! The authorities knew what was to take place and yet, did nothing!
  8. The January 20 (1948) attempt on Gandhi was to involve an initial explosion intended as a diversion, followed by shots fired from handguns and multiple hand grenades. Arms dealer Badge changed his mind and declined to participate at the last moment. After the detonation of the diversionary gun cotton charge, the conspiracy failed to materialize. Madanlal Pahwa, in charge of detonating the explosive, was captured and, as will be seen, disclosed to the authorities who the plotters were and that they would try again.
  9. As highlighted above, Madanlal Pahwa disclosed the entire assassination plot to the authorities: ” . . . . At a Delhi police station, Pahwa soon confessed the entire plot to his interrogators. He named for the police one of the conspirators, whom he called ‘Kirkree’ (his mentor, Karkare). In describing each of his six companions, he said one of them was a definitive identification of Nathuram Godse, whom he knew under the pseudonym ‘Deshpande.’ Pahwa led the police to the room in the Marina Hotel where Godse and Apte, who were registered under ‘S, and M. Deshpande,’ had held their final planning session with the others. . . . Pahwa’s co-conspirators were linked with the Hindu Mahasabha. Laundry that the room’s occupants had given to the hotel for washing included three items bearing the initials ‘NVG’ (standing for ‘Nathuram Vinayak Godse’ [Gandhi’s assassin and Savarkar’s personal secretary]).  The importance of all this evidence identifying Gandhi’s would-be assassins was underlined by a chilling statement Madanlal Pahwa made to the police: ‘They will come again.’ . . .Incriminating, identifying information was in the hands of the police. Pahwa was warning that the killers would return. Moreover, Madanlal Pahwa had already divulged the plot to kill Gandhi the week before the conspirators even tried to carry it out. . . .
  10. More about the forewarnings of the 1/30/1948 plot to kill Gandhi. . . . On hearing Jain’s story, Home Minister Desai had, he said later, ‘a strong feeling that Savarkar was behind the conspiracy.’ Desai said he passed on Jain’s information that night to his deputy police commissioner, J.D.Nagarvala, ordering him, first, ‘to arrest Karkare’ (Karkare had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in another case but had not yet been found), second, ‘to keep a close watch on Savarkar’s house and his movements,’ and third, ‘to find out as to who were the persons involved in the plot.’ Desai said he also shared Jain’s information on the plot the next day, January 22, 1948, in Ahmedabad, with the Indian Union government’s home minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, who was in charge of the national government’s security apparatus. . . .
  11. Despite Pahwa’s disclosure of the nature of the conspiratorial milieu involved with the 1/20/1948 plot and his statement that they would try again, nothing was done: ” . . . . . . . . Pyarelal [Gandhi’s secretary] told the Kapur Commission [investigating Gandhi’s assassination] that, apart from the added officers, he “could not say whether any special [police] precautions were taken after the bomb was thrown. However, he was certain of one thing: ‘Mahatma would have been protected if the police had arrested those persons about whom indications had been given in Madanlal’s statement.’ Why didn’t the police carry out such arrests?  As of January 21, both the Delhi police and the Bombay police had in their possession statements identifying key members of the ongoing conspiracy to kill Gandhi. Moreover, they were in touch with one another. Yet for nine days the assassins moved about freely, until three of them, Apte, Godse, and Karkare, returned on the 30th to another prayer meeting in Delhi, where Godse then killed Gandhi. For that to happen, without any intervening arrests to prevent the assassination, strange events had to occur. And they did. . . .” The police remained silent about the details of the plot and plotters when communicating with their superiors.
  12. We next set forth more detail about the remarkable and–for Gandhi–ultimately lethal apparent disinterest on the part of the authorities: ” . . . . Why did [Bombay deputy inspector general U.H.] Rana not give Nagarvala the statement, providing further information on Pahwa’s co-conspirators in the plot to kill Gandhi​?  And why did Nagarvala not retain or copy the statement, or at the very least read it through? When it came to identifying the editor and proprietor of the Hindu Rashtra, the ignorance and disinterest of the various police officials became even more puzzling. The Kapur Commission discovered that the Indian government had this information in its files in Delhi all along. Copies of the ‘Annual Statement of Newspapers’ had been sent to both the Home Department and the Information and Broadcasting Department of the Government of India. The newspaper named N.V. Godse as the editor, and N.D. Apte as the proprietor, of the Hindu Rashtra, described by the document as ‘a Savarkarite group paper.’ Inspector General T.G. Sanjevi was also the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the highest police job in India. For the ten days from Pahwa’s capture to Gandhi’s assassination, the list that identified Godse and Apte with the Hindu Rashtra was only a few steps away from Sanjevi in his own files. He never took those steps. Nor did any other police official. . . .”
  13. In a speech by Nehru in Amritsar (the site of an earlier massacre of Gandhi’s followers by the British army), the future prime minister attacked the Hindutva fascists and their organizations by name, but the loudspeaker conveniently malfunctioned, neutralizing the content of his speech. ” . . . . He [Vincent Sheean] was also struck by what Nehru said in ‘a speech of great political importance. It was the first time any member of the government of India had openly attacked the Hindu reactionary or proto-fascist organizations by name—those organizations which were, within twenty-four hours, to take the life of Mahatma Gandhi.’  . . . . Nehru’s speech was courageous, given at a critical juncture of history. Unfortunately, almost no one in the vast crowd heard it. In a strange turn of events, as Sheean witnessed, ‘the loudspeaker apparatus failed and not a word of Mr. Nehru’s speech could be heard.’ . . . .”
  14. Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, attributes the behavior of the police to their sympathy with the conspiratorial Hindutva forces: ” . . . . Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, has written about police complicity in the assassination: ‘According to a secret report submitted to Home Minister Sardar Patel, many in the police force and many bureaucrats were secret members of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, and were actively supporting and promoting the ideology of the Hindu extremist organizations. . . . The measures taken by the police between 20th and 30th January 1948 were more to ensure the smooth progress of the murderers, than to try and prevent [Gandhi’s] murder. . . . In hindsight, it can only be said that, in Gandhi’s murder, the police, by their negligence and inactions, were as much guilty as the murderers themselves. . . .”
  15. Government leaders, including Nehru and Patel appear to have been passively complicit in Gandhi’s murder, through failing to take necessary and, under the circumstances, obligatory security procedures. ” . . . . To what degree were the government’s leaders also responsible for Gandhi’s death? The official in charge of security for Prime Minister Nehru, G.K. Handoo, explained later to the Kapur Commission in its investigation of Gandhi’s assassination what should have been done to protect him from his assassins. Handoo said the government had a security blueprint to follow in such matters. . . . Yet in the ten days between the bombing and Gandhi’s murder, no such standard security measures were taken to protect him. Nehru and Patel did not deploy their security police as they would have done normally in such a situation—as was in fact done for themselves immediately after Gandhi’s murder, out of concern for their own lives. At a critical time, under a clearly identified threat, they failed to protect the life of the man they, their country, and the world most revered. . . .”
  16. V.D. Savarkar was charged as a defendant in the murder of Gandhi, but was protected by Godse and Apte. ” . . . . Savarkar was among those charged with Gandhi’s murder, Digambar Badge, who turned state’s evidence, testified in the murder trial about Godse’s and Apte’s meetings with Savarkar. Savarkar, however, was found not guilty because of a lack of corroborative evidence. Godse and Apte protected Savarkar all the way to their executions, denying vehemently any connection with Savarkar in the conspiracy. . . .”
  17. Feigning loyalty to Gandhi, Savarkar read a statement to the court bemoaning his fate. Godse, on the other hand, was allowed to read a nine-hour statement in court justifying and explaining his actions in killing Gandhi. It appears that Savarkar may well have been a major contributor to the composition of his protege’s oration. ” . . . Tushar Gandhi observed:  ‘The language of the statement leads one to the conclusion that much of it either flows directly from the pen of the master orator and wizard wordsmith, V.D. Savarkar, or was definitely embellished by him. Savarkar possessed a magical command over the spoken and written word. Even if not entirely written by Savarkar, the final draft was surely worked on by him converting it into a highly emotionally charged document’ . . .  The fact that Judge Atma Charan allowed Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s confessed assassin, to speak for nine hours, in an ideological assault on Gandhi and a judicial defense of Savarkar, shows just how much the court was subservient to the political power of Gandhi’s murderers. . . . .”
  18. The judge’s sanctioning of Godse’s nine-hour diatribe against Gandhi, the man for whose murder he was standing trial, exemplified the sanctified nature of Savarkar, the RSS, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Hindutva fascists behind Gandhi’s killing. “. . . . Why did the judge give Godse a courtroom platform from which he could launch an extended attack on the reputation of the man he had already shot to death? When Godse, and in effect, Savarkar, were allowed to attack Gandhi in a nine-hoour courtroom diatribe, the defendants became the prosecution. It was a clear prelude to Savarkar being declared not guilty by the judge. . . .”
  19. Information surfacing after the trial confirms that the authorities were complicit in covering up the murder. ” . . . .  It was only after Savarkar’s death in 1966 that a government commission reviewing Gandhi’s assassination revealed that the corroborative evidence to convict Savarkar had been in the government’s possession all along. On March 4, 1948, three months before the Gandhi murder trial began, Savarkar’s bodyguard, Appa Ramchandra Kasar, and his secretary, Bajanan Vishnu Damle, gave recorded statements to the Bombay police confirming that meetings between Savarkar, Godse, and Apte had in fact taken place before the assassination. Kasar and Damle also revealed that Savarkar had additional meetings in January with his other indicted co-conspirators, Karkare, Pahawa, Badge, and Parchure. . . .When summarizing evidence ting Savarka into the plot, Justice Kapur stated in his report: ‘All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder [Gandhi] by Savarkar and his group.’ . . .”
  20. Both Nehru and Patel had the damning information in hand within a month of the assassination: ” . . . Home minister Patel and Prime Minister Nehru soon learned that Savarkar was behind Gandhi’s murder. Less than a month after the assassination, Patel wrote to Nehru: ‘It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through.’ . . . Yet government prosecutors never called to the murder trial’s witness stand either Savarkar’s bodyguard, Kasar, or his secretary, Damle. . . . “
  21. A fundamental question looms over our presentation of the facts concerning Gandhi’s killing: ” . . . .  So why did the government hold back critical evidence that would convicted Savarkar? . . . Why did Morarji Desai, a prominent official who would eventually become India’s prime minister, defer to the defendant, Savarkar, rather than simply ‘give the full facts’ about the further evidence Desai had on Savarkar?  Why was it ‘for him [Savarkar, the defendant] to decide’ what Desai, the government officer in charge, was prepared but reluctant to testify?
  22. Douglass’s reflections on Desai’s behavior: ” . . . This courtroom encounter, deleted from the trial record but reported by ‘The Times of India’ journalist in attendance, suggests the unspeakable power that Savarkar retained even as Gandhi’s charged assassin. The looming possibility that Savarkar would be convicted on the evidence threatened the government prosecuting him. It was for Savarkar to decide what Desai should say on the witness stand. . . .This courtroom encounter, deleted from the trial record but reported by ‘The Times of India’ journalist in attendance, suggests the unspeakable power that Savarkar retained even as Gandhi’s charged assassin. The looming possibility that Savarkar would be convicted on the evidence threatened the government prosecuting him. . . .”
  23. Savarkar’s political reputation has been burnished by the RSS and its political cat’s paw the BJP. Furthermore the BJP has instituted an Orwellian re-write of Indian school text books. ” . . . . Once the BJP took power through a ruthless, anti-Muslim strategy, it set out to rewrite history. BJP writers revised school textbooks to convey a Hindu nationalist slant in the history of India. Some things were better left unsaid. The new history books simply omitted Gandhi’s by RSS member Godse.
  24. More about the Orwellian re-write of Savarkar’s history: ” . . . . The BJP also used its power in Delhi to revise the dark history of its ideological source, recreating Savarkar as a brave patriot. On May 4, 2002, BJP leader L.K. Advani, who had become the government’s home minister, officially renamed Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands as ‘Veer Savarkar Airport.’ The government then unveiled a plaque in honor of Savarkar at the site of his cell at Port Blair. In 2003, the government placed Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament House in New Delhi. The BJP was trying to transform Savarkar in the public mind from the mastermind of Gandhi’s murder into a mythical liberator of the country. . . .”
  25. Muslim activist Shaheed Suhrwardy was an ally of Gandhi’s in his attempt to end Muslim-Hindu violence in India and Pakistan.
  26. Originally targeted by the participants in the 1/20/1948 assassination attempt on Gandhi, Suhrawardy became a prime Pakistani advocate for democracy after working with Gandhi to tamp down Hindu-Muslim violence in the wake of the partition of India and Pakistan.
  27. Driven out of Pakistan, former Prime Minister Suhrawardy died under mysterious circumstances in Lebanon after receiving word of plotting against his life by elements of the Pakistani national security apparatus.

NB: Douglass’s important (and yet short) text has some invaluable insights into Gandhi’s spiritual orientation–the foundation of his political outlook. We do not have time to go into those here. We strongly recommend that people buy the book. (Neither Mr. Emory nor any of the stations that carry the program get any money from this. In addition to an emphatic recommendation that listeners/readers buy the book, we recommend that further insight into Gandhi’s outlook and methodology can be gained from Erik Erikson’s Gandhi’s Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence.

1. Initially a revolutionary opponent of the British colonial authority, V.D. Savarkar underwent a metamorphosis, in which he came to . . . . hope for an Indo-British alliance based on a shared racial background that would transform the British Empire into the ‘Aryan Empire.’ . . . . he and other revolutionary leaders were now ready and willing to be friends of the British Empire if it equipped India with a form of government vital for her freedom. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; p. 48.

. . . . During his solitary confinement at Port Blair, Savarkar’s ideology turned away from rebellion against the empire. In September 1914, he wrote a letter to the British government in India expressing his hope for an Indo-British alliance based on a shared racial background that would transform the British Empire into the “Aryan Empire.” He wrote that he and other revolutionary leaders were now ready and willing to be friends of the British Empire if it equipped India with a form of government vital for her freedom. . . .

2. Next, we highlight the founding of the RSS by Savarkar acolyte K.B. Hedgewar: ” . . . . Hedgewar consulted with Savarkar on how to implement his Hindu nationalist vision. Following their discussion, Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ‘the Organization of National Volunteers,’ whose innocuous name covered an organization that consciously copied the strategy of Mussolini’s fascist Blackshirts. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; p. 51.

. . . . One of Savarkar’s early visitors in Ratnagiri in March 1925 was K.B. Hedgewar, a medical practitioner inspired by Savarkar’s recently publihsed Hindutva [Hindutva: What Is a Hindu?] Hedgewar consulted with Savarkar on how to implement his Hindu nationalist vision. Following their discussion, Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), “the Organization of National Volunteers,” whose innocuous name covered an organization that consciously copied the strategy of Mussolini’s fascist Blackshirts. The RSS would become infamous by terrorizing Muslims to gain political power in India at the end of the twentieth century. . . .

3. Gandhi’s future assassin–Nathuram Godse–parlayed copying the writings of Savarkar to becoming his personal secretary and heading an “academic department” of a branch of the RSS.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; p. 53.

. . . . In 1929 Vinayak Godse, a postal worker, was transferred to Ratnagiri. Three days after the Godse Family’s arrival in town, Vinayak’s nineteen-year-old son, Nathuram, visited Savarkar for the first time. As Nathuram’s younger brother and co-conspirator in Gandhi’s murder, Gopal, has written, Nathuram then “went to [Savarkar] often . . . Nathuram gladly undertook the work of copying the writings of Veer [meaning “brave”] Savarkar. “Impressed by Nathuram’s devotion, Savarkar appointed him as his secretary.” Nathuram also joined the RSS, eventually heading the “academic department” of one of its branches. Natahuram Godse had discovered his lifelong vocation—following, promoting, and carrying out Savarkar’s teaching. . . . 

 4. One of the organizations that worked closely with the RSS and which was a foundational element of the RSS’s military substance and later prominence in the national security establishment of the Indian state was the Hindu Mahasabha. “. . . . In the 1930s, Savarkar helped create the anti-Muslim, military oriented Hindu Mahasabha organization. . . . When the Second World War began, Savarkar urged Hindu youths to join the British-led armed forces so they could be “re-born into a martial race. His 1940s slogan wed Hindu nationalism with the war effort: ‘Hindhuise all politics and militarize Hindudom.’ . . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 53-54.

. . . . In the 1930s, Savarkar helped create the anti-Muslim, military oriented Hindu Mahasabha organization. He was Mahasabha president from 1937 through 1944. When the Second World War began, Savarkar urged Hindu youths to join the British-led armed forces so they could be “re-born into a martial race. His 1940s slogan wed Hindu nationalism with the war effort: “Hindhuise all politics and militarize Hindudom.” . . . .

5. The Hindu Mahasabha RSS deeply infiltrated the national security apparatus of the fledgling Hindu state, setting the stage for Gandhi’s murder: ” . . . Savarkar’s followers held cabinet and administrative positions in the government. Hindu Mahasabha and RSS extremists had also infiltrated India’s security forces. Key police officials were more committed to an exclusively Hindu nation than they were to Gandhi’s democratic ideal of a diverse, secular union. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 57-58.

. . . . Having become in January 1948 the Muslims’ defender in Delhi, India’s Hindu-dominated capital, Gandhi was in deepening danger. The Hindu right had allied itself with elements of Gandi’s own Congress Party. Savarkar’s followers held cabinet and administrative positions in the government. Hindu Mahasabha and RSS extremists had also infiltrated India’s security forces. Key police officials were more committed to an exclusively Hindu nation than they were to Gandhi’s democratic ideal of a diverse, secular union. They could not be counted on to protect the life of a presumably pro-Muslim satyagrahi, when he was attacked by forces the police sympathized with. The state police provided the context of Gandhi’s murder. . . .

6. A key development in the progression of events culminating in Gandhi’s murder was a previous assassination plot against him. Although this plot failed, the group of assassins-to-be (including Nathuram Godse) regrouped and successfully murdered Gandhi in New Delhi days later.

Gandhi’s killing took place in spite of the fact that Madanlala Pahwa, one of the conspirators in the earlier, failed plot, rolled over and became state’s evidence! The authorities knew what was to take place and yet, did nothing!

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; p. 59.

. . . . Two days before announced his Delhi fast, Godse and Apte had already ordered the arsenal they would use for their assassination plot. On January 10, they placed the order with Digambar Badge, an arms salesman in Poona. They told Badge to have the necessary explosives, revolvers, and hand grenades delivered to them by January 14 at the Hindu Mahasabha office in Bombay. Savarkar had moved to Bombay, where the assassins would seek their mentor’s final instructions and blessing. On the night of January 12, when Godse and Apte read the announcement of Gahdhi’s fast from their teleprinter, they set January 20 as their target date for murdering the Mahatma. . . .

 7. The January 20 (1948) attempt on Gandhi was to involve an initial explosion intended as a diversion, followed by shots fired from handguns and multiple hand grenades. Arms dealer Badge changed his mind and declined to participate at the last moment.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 72-73.

. . . . On the morning of January 20, Apte, Badge, and Badge’s servant Shankar went to Birla House as a scouting party for the assassination attempt late that afternoon. On the grounds, Apte suddenly indicated to Badge “a stoutish gentleman dressed up in a black suit” whom they spotted walking out of a building. “This is that Suhrawardy,” Apte whispered, identifying one of their targets. As Badge testified in the murder trial, “Apte [repeating Savarkar] said that so far as possible both Gandhiji and Suhrawardy should be  ‘finished.’ He further said that, if it was not possible to ‘finish’ both of hem, then at least one of them must be ‘finished.’”

The three men surveyed the prayer ground and the back access to the servants’ quarters (where through the trellis of a ventilator, one unseen assassin could shoot a praying Gandhi from only four or five steps behind him, while another could throw a hand grenade, blowing up Gandhi and anyone near him.)

In the afternoon, the seven conspirators met in a room of the Marina Hotel in Delhi. After accepting suggestions from Badge and Karkare, Apte finalized their instructions to murder Gandhi and his companions at his prayer meeting: Madanlal Pahwa was to explode a guncotton bomb on a rear wall to panic the crowd. As soon as the bomb went off and confusion erupted, Badge and Shankar would shoot Gandhi from the servants’ quarters, shielded by the ventilator. Each of them would also throw a hand grenade at Gandhi.

 Apte told Gopal Godse, Nathuram’s younger brother, as well as Pahwa and Karkare, to throw their remaining hand grenades on Gandhi at the same time. Thus even if the two shooters failed to kill Gandhi, five assassins would be hurling hand grenades at him (and hopefully Suhrawardy beside him.) . . . .

. . . . Badge, however, had developed cold feet. He went aside, and wrapped his and Shankar’s revolvers in a towel along with their two hand grenades. He put the towel with its incriminating contents in a handbag. He stowed the handbag under the back seat of a waiting taxi. Then he rejoined Apte and Godse and went into the meeting, keeping his hands in his side pockets as if he were still carrying his weapons. . . .

8. After the detonation of the diversionary gun cotton charge, the conspiracy failed to materialize. Madanlal Pahwa, in charge of detonating the explosive, was captured and, as will be seen, disclosed to the authorities who the plotters were and that they would try again.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 74-75.

. . . . From the audience, Apte then signaled Pahwa to begin the assassination scenario. The young man obediently ignited the fuse for the guncotton charge in the back wall.

As the fuse burned down to the charge, Gandhi was drawing a parallel between the treatment of minorities in America and in India: “In America, Negroes are still treated cruelly as if they were slaves, and yet the Americans indulge in tall talk about social equality. They do not realize the injustice of their actions. . . . We assume we are better people and cannot do such things. And yet, think of what happens here.”

A deafening explosion suddenly shook the prayer ground. A large chunk of the back wall collapsed. Smoke and dust rose in the air. The two Godses, Apte, and Karkare waited anxiously for Badge and Shankar to launch their attack on Gandhi.

Gandhi raised his hand. He gestured to the crowd to calm down. The people returned to their places. The secretly disarmed Badge and Shankar did nothing. Witnesses pointed out Pahwa to the police. While Pahwa was being arrested, all six of his co-conspirators melted into the crowd and escaped.

 Madanlal Pahwa was interrogated initially at Birla House. In response to the police’s questions, he gave only one answer—that he exploded the bomb “because I did not like Gahdhiji’s policy of maintaining peace and friendship.” . . . .

. . . . Gandhi was under no illusion that Pahwa’s arrest meant the threat was over. When he was told a co-worker had said the explosion at the prayer meeting might turn out to have been nothing but a harmless prank, Gandhi laughed at the thought. He exclaimed, “The fool! Don’t you see? There  is a terrible and widespread conspiracy behind it.” . . .

While his co-workers went about their business, Gandhi prepared to meet his death. . . .

9. As highlighted above, Madanlal Pahwa disclosed the entire assassination plot to the authorities: ” . . . . At a Delhi police station, Pahwa soon confessed the entire plot to his interrogators. He named for the police one of the conspirators, whom he called ‘Kirkree’ (his mentor, Karkare). In describing each of his six companions, he said one of them was a definitive identification of Nathuram Godse, whom he knew under the pseudonym ‘Deshpande.’

 Pahwa led the police to the room in the Marina Hotel where Godse and Apte, who were registered under ‘S, and M. Deshpande,’ had held their final planning session with the others. . . . Pahwa’s co-conspirators were linked with the Hindu Mahasabha. Laundry that the room’s occupants had given to the hotel for washing included three items bearing the initials ‘NVG’ (standing for ‘Nathuram Vinayak Godse’).

 The importance of all this evidence identifying Gandhi’s would-be assassins was underlined by a chilling statement Madanlal Pahwa made to the police: ‘They will come again.’ . . .

. . . . Incriminating, identifying information was in the hands of the police. Pahwa was warning that the killers would return. Moreover, Madanlal Pahwa ha already divulged the plot to kill Gandhi the week before the conspirators even tried to carry it out. . . .

. . . . On hearing Jain’s story, Home Minister Desai had, he said later, ‘a strong feeling that Savarkar was behind the conspiracy.’ Desai said he passed on Jain’s information that night to his deputy police commissioner, J.D.Nagarvala, ordering him, first, ‘to arrest Karkare’ (Karkare had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in another case but had not yet been found), second, ‘to keep a close watch on Savarkar’s house and his movements,’ and third, ‘to find out as to who were the persons involved in the plot.’ Desai said he also shared Jain’s information on the plot the next day, January 22, 1948, in Ahmedabad, with the Indian Union government’s home minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, who was in charge of the national government’s security apparatus. . . .

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 75-77.

. . . . Nathuram Godse and Naryan Apte retreated to Bombay, where they succeeded in reuniting with their closest cohort, Vishnu Karkare. In the meantime, those whom Godse and Apte had left in charge of their newspaper, Hindu Rashtra, reported the assassination attempt as the work of anti-Gandhi refugees.  Hindu Rashtra’s headline proclaimed: “Representative Reaction Shown by Enraged Hindu Refugees Against the Appeasement Policy of Gandhiji.” Fixing the blame for the murder attempt—or from the standpoint of Gandhi’s enemies, the credit—on refugees was easy. The only consprirator seized by the police was Madanlal Pahwa.

At a Delhi police station, Pahwa soon confessed the entire plot to his interrogators. He named for the police one of the conspirators, whom he called “Kirkree” (his mentor, Karkare). In describing each of his six companions, he said one of them was a definitive identification of Nathuram Godse, whom he knew under the pseudonym “Deshpande.”

 Pahwa led the police to the room in the Marina Hotel where Godse and Apte, who were registered under “S, and M. Deshpande,” had held their final planning session with the others. When the police searched the room, they found in a drawer a typed press release from a Hindu Mahasabha leader, Ashutosh Lahiri, that repudiated “his organization having signed the nine-point pledge required by Gandhiji.” The press release said the Hindu Mahasaha was “opposed to the basic policy of Mahatma Gandhi and his followers in regard to the treatment meted out to Muslim minorities in India.” Here was an important clue that Pahwa’s co-conspirators were linked with the Hindu Mahasabha. Laundry that the room’s occupants had given to the hotel for washing included three items bearing the initials “NVG” (standing for “Nathuram Vinayak Godse”).

 The importance of all this evidence identifying Gandhi’s would-be assassins was underlined by a chilling statement Madanlal Pahwa made to the police: “They will come again.” Nathuram Godse, in the company of Apte and Karkare, would fulfill Pahwa’s prophecy to the police by shooting Gandhi to death on January 30.

How was that to happen?

Incriminating, identifying information was in the hands of the police. Pahwa was warning that the killers would return.

Moreover, Madanlal Pahwa ha already divulged the plot to kill Gandhi the week before the conspirators even tried to carry it out. He had told his employer in Bombay, Professor J.C. Jain, about his upcoming role, “throwing a bomb” as a diversion at Gandhi’s prayer meeting, so that his associates could kill Gandhi. Jain thought Pahwa was just making up the story, until he was shocked to read a January 21 newspaper article about Pahwa’s arrest for the bombing incident. Jain then managed to meet with B.G. Kher, premier of the province of Bombay, and Morarji Desai, home minister of the province of Bombay. He had succeeded in gaining the attention of the two most important government officials in Bombay on the urgent matter of Gandhi’s impending assassination, over a week before it would happen. Jain informed the government leaders that he knew from Pahwa that the bombing was part of what “appeared to be a big conspiracy” to kill Gandhi: “Madanlal had told me that [the conspirators] had formed a party, which was financed by one Karkare from Ahmednagar,” who had visited him along with Pahwa. A further connection was Savarkar, who Pahwa said had met with him for two hours, raising the young Hindu refugee for exploits such as his attempt to dynamite the house of a Muslim.

On hearing Jain’s story, Home Minister Desai had, he said later, “a strong feeling that Savarkar was behind the conspiracy.” Desai said he passed on Jain’s information that night to his deputy police commissioner, J.D.Nagarvala, ordering him, first, “to arrest Karkare” (Karkare had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in another case but had not yet been found), second, “to keep a close watch on Savarkar’s house and his movements,” and third, “to find out as  to who were the persons involved in the plot.” Desai said he also shared Jain’s information on the plot the next day, January 22, 1948, in Ahmedabad, with the Indian Union government’s home minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, who was in charge of the national government’s security apparatus. . . .

10. Despite Pahwa’s disclosure of the nature of the conspiratorial milieu involved with the 1/20/1948 plot and his statement that they would try again, nothing was done: ” . . . . . . . . Pyarelal [Gandhi’s secretary] told the Kapur Commission [investigating Gandhi’s assassination] that, apart from the added officers, he “could not say whether any special [police] precautions were taken after the bomb was thrown. However, he was certain of one thing: ‘Mahatma would have been protected if the police had arrested those persons about whom indications had been given in Madanlal’s statement.’ Why didn’t the police carry out such arrests?  As of January 21, both the Delhi police and the Bombay police had in their possession statements identifying key members of the ongoing conspiracy to kill Gandhi. Moreover, they were in touch with one another. Yet for nine days the assassins moved about freely, until three of them, Apte, Godse, and Karkare, returned on the 30th to another prayer meeting in Delhi, where Godse then killed Gandhi. For that to happen, without any intervening arrests to prevent the assassination, strange events had to occur. And they did. . . .”

The police remained silent about the details of the plot and plotters when communicating with their superiors.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 78-79.

. . . . Pyarelal [Gandhi’s secretary] told the Kapur Commission [investigating Gandhi’s assassination] that, apart from the added officers, he “could not say whether any special [police] precautions were taken after the bomb was thrown. However, he was certain of one thing: “Mahatma would have been protected if the police had arrested those persons about whom indications had been given in Madanlal’s statement.”

 . . . . Why didn’t the police carry out such arrests?

 As of January 21, both the Delhi police and the Bombay police had in their possession statements identifying key members of the ongoing conspiracy to kill Gandhi. Moreover, they were in touch with one another. Yet for nine days the assassins moved about freely, until three of them, Apte, Godse, and Karkare, returned on the 30th to another prayer meeting in Delhi, where Godse then killed Gandhi.

 For that to happen, without any intervening arrests to prevent the assassinaton, strange events had to occur. And they did.

 On January 21, Delhi’s inspector general of police, T.G. Sanjevi, sent two of his officers to Bombay to brief the Bombay deputy police commissioner, J.D. Nagarvala, on Pahwa’s confession. The Delhi officers claimed that when they saw the Bombay commissioner, Nagarvala, on the next two days, he met with them only perfunctorily. In return, they simply gave him an English note on the case (which Nagarvala denied receiving). They did “not orally tell Mr. Nagarvala what was within their knowledge,” including Pahwa’s identification of the editor of the Poona newspaper, the Hindu Rashtra or Agrani, as another co-conspirator. The officers told the commissioner nothing they knew that would identify the assassins. Nor did Nagarvala share with them the contents of the statement he already had from Professor Jain that also identified Pahwa, Karkare, as well as their association with Savarkar–” all pointers to attempted political assassination by Savarkar’s followers.” Each police contingent acted as if they were obliged not to speak in a meaningful way, each claiming later that non-cooperation by the other was to blame for Gandhi’s death. Nagarvala told the two visiting officers that he had the investigation under control and ordered them to return to Delhi.

 In the meantime, Nagarvala’s Bombay police, following Morarji Desai’s orders were keeping what proved to be an ineffective watch on Savarkar’s home. Nagarvala “stated in his Crime Report No.1 that Savarkar was at the back of the conspiracy and that he was feigning illness and was wrongly giving out that he was out of politics.”

 At this point, Gandhi had just seven days left before his assassins would return. . . . .

11. We next set forth more detail about the remarkable and–for Gandhi–ultimately lethal apparent disinterest on the part of the authorities: ” . . . . Why did [Bombay deputy inspector general U.H.] Rana not give Nagarvala the statement, providing further information on Pahwa’s co-conspirators in the plot to kill Gandhi​?  And why did Nagarvala not retain or copy the statement, or at the very least read it through?

 When it came to identifying the editor and proprietor of the Hindu Rashtra, the ignorance and disinterest of the various police officials became even more puzzling. The Kapur Commission discovered that the Indian government had this information in its files in Delhi all along. Copies of the ‘Annual Statement of Newspapers’ had been sent to both the Home Department and the Information and Broadcasting Department of the Government of India. The newspaper named N.V. Godse as the editor, and N.D. Apte as the proprietor, of the Hindu Rashtra, described by the document as ‘a Savarkarite group paper.’

Inspector General T.G. Sanjevi was also the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the highest police job in India. For the ten days from Pahwa’s capture to Gandhi’s assassination, the list that identified Godse and Apte with the Hindu Rashtra was only a few steps away from Sanjevi in his own files. He never took those steps. Nor did any other police official. . . .

 . . . . The veil was lifted for a moment when Nagarvala was asked why he did not arrest Savarkar or detain him. ‘His reply was that he could not do so before the murder as that would not only have caused commotion in the Maharashtrian region but an upheaval.’  Nagarvala was admitting that before Gandhi’s assassination, he saw Savarkar and his followers as too powerful to be stopped. From a police  standpoint, allowing Gandhi’s assassins to move about freely until they killed him was a concession to power. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 79-82.

When the Delhi police officers returned from Bombay, having achieved nothing, The Kapur Report noted that they “should have at once telephoned or telegraphed to the Poona police, giving them information about the editor of the Agrani and inquiring as to who he was, who his companions were, what his activities were and what his haunts were, and should have made a requisition for their arrest. All they did was submit a report on their unsuccessful trip to Bombay.

Gandhi had five days left to live.

Also on January 25, Delhi’s inspector general Sanjevi met with Bombay’s deputy inspector general, U.H. Rana, who happened to be in Delhi. Sanjevi gave Rana a copy of Pahwa’s nost recent, January 24 statement to the Delhi police, to hand over personally to the Bombay police. Pahwa had by this time mentioned not only the editor of the Hindu Rashtra (Godse) but also its “proprietor” or publisher (Apte) as his co-conspirators.

 Rana departed for Bombay on a mission that was late but could still have saved Gandhi’s life.  However, he decided to go by train instead of air. He said later it was “because he did not like flying.” He also chose a very long train route to Bombay, taking him across half of India on a thirty-six-hour train ride. During this time, Godse and Apte were actually in Bombay, consulting with Savarkar and renewing their attempt to kill Gandhi.

When Rana finally arrived in Bombay on January 27, Godse and Apte had just left by plane for Delhi. Gandhi had three days left. Rana then met with Commissioner Nagarvala. Rana said he showed the “full statement of Madanlal to Mr. Nagarvala, but took it back from him and Mr. Nagarvala did not read it through.” The Kapur Report observed that Nagarvala “did not ask Mr. Rana as to the contents of the statement of Madanlal because Mr. Rana appeared to be satisfied with what he (Nagarvala) had already done. This is rather a peculiar statement because Mr. Nagarvala was working out the information given by Professor Jain, which had been conveyed to him by Mr. Morarji Desai, and Madanlal’s statement at Delhi would have been helpful in working out the information.”

 Why did Rana not give Nagarvala the statement, providing further information on Pahwa’s co-conspirators in the plot to kill Gandhi​?

 And why did Nagarvala not retain or copy the statement, or at the very least read it through?

 When it came to identifying the editor and proprietor of the Hindu Rashtra, the ignorance and disinterest of the various police officials became even more puzzling. The Kapur Commission discovered that the Indian government had this information in its files in Delhi all along. Copies of the “Annual Statement of Newspapers” had been sent to both the Home Department and the Information and Broadcasting Department of the Government of India. The newspaper named N.V. Godse as the editor, and N.D. Apte as the proprietor, of the Hindu Rashtra, described by the document as “a Savarkarite group paper.”

 Inspector General T.G. Sanjevi was also the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the highest police job in India. For the ten days from Pahwa’s capture to Gandhi’s assassination, the list that identified Godse and Apte with the Hindu Rashtra was only a few steps away from Sanjevi in his own files. He never took those steps. Nor did any other police official.

 The Kapur Report commented: “It would be unbelievable if that thing did not happen as it did, that Mr. U.H. Rana should have gone through the statement of Madanlal along with Mr. Sanjevi, as Mr. Sanjevi’s note shows, and neither of them should, on the 25th of January, have taken the slightest trouble to find out from the Intelligence Bureau or the Press Information Bureau who the proprietor (or editor) of the Hindu Rashtra was.

 And so it went, in a police investigation marked by lethargy, delays, and official indifference toward tracking and arresting the men who were stalking Gandhi. Pahwa said they would come back, and they did. The police by their inaction gave the assassins another chance.

 Why?

 The veil was lifted for a moment when Nagarvala was asked why he did not arrest Savarkar or detain him. “His reply was that he could not do so before the murder as that would not only have caused commotion in the Maharashtrian region but an upheaval.”

  Nagarvala was admitting that before Gandhi’s assassination, he saw Savarkar and his followers as too powerful to be stopped. From a police  standpoint, allowing Gandhi’s assassins to move about freely until they killed him was a concession to power. . . .

12. In a speech by Nehru in Amritsar (the site of an earlier massacre of Gandhi’s followers by the British army), the future prime minister attacked the Hindutva fascists and their organizations by name, but the loudspeaker conveniently malfunctioned, neutralizing the content of his speech. ” . . . . He [Vincent Sheean] was also struck by what Nehru said in ‘a speech of great political importance. It was the first time any member of the government of India had openly attacked the Hindu reactionary or proto-fascist organizations by name—those organizations which were, within twenty-four hours, to take the life of Mahatma Gandhi.’  . . . . Nehru’s speech was courageous, given at a critical juncture of history. Unfortunately, almost no one in the vast crowd heard it. In a strange turn of events, as Sheean witnessed, ‘the loudspeaker apparatus failed and not a word of Mr. Nehru’s speech could be heard.’ . . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 84-86.

. . . . On January 29, Vincent Sheean accompanied Jawaharlal Nehru to a mass meeting in Amritsar, near India’s northwest border with Pakistan. Four hundred thousand people gathered in a park to her their country’s prime minister. Sheean from his spot near Nehru was awed by the sea of humanity. He was also struck by what Nehru said in “a speech of great political importance. It was the first time any member of the government of India had openly attacked the Hindu reactionary or proto-fascist organizations by name—those organizations which were, within twenty-four hours, to take the life of Mahatma Gandhi.”

As a border city, Amritsar was filled with Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan. Nehru’s audience included a large number of people seething with revenge against Muslim, whom they blamed for their plight. They were being egged on by the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS organizations that Nehru identified and attacked, on the eve of Gandhi’s murder.

Nehru’s speech was courageous, given at a critical juncture of history. Unfortunately, almost no one in the vast crowd heard it. In a strange turn of events, as Sheean witnessed, “the loudspeaker apparatus failed and not a word of Mr. Nehru’s speech could be heard.” . . . .

 . . . . On Friday, January 30, Gandhi’s last day on earth, Pyarelal reported back to him the response of the Hindu Mahasabha president, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, as the formal head of Savarkar’s organization, was a minister in Nehru’s cabinet—a sign of the power that the forces the prime minister denounced in his unheard speech the night before had gained in his own government. Gandhi had asked Mookerjee, if he would please use his authority, as the Mahasabha leader, to put a curb on the activities of a Mahasabha worker “who had been delivering highly inflammatory speeches containing incitement to assassination of some Congress leaders.”

 Pyarelal told Gandhi Dr. Mookerjee’s “halting and unsatisfactory reply: It seems he had underestimated the seriousness of the danger represented by such irresponsible utterances and activities and the heavy toll they would exact before long.” . . . .

 13. Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, attributes the behavior of the police to their sympathy with the conspiratorial Hindutva forces: ” . . . . Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, has written about police complicity in the assassination:

 ‘According to a secret report submitted to Home Minister Sardar Patel, many in the police force and many bureaucrats were secret members of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, and were actively supporting and promoting the ideology of the Hindu extremist organizations. . . . The measures taken by the police between 20th and 30th January 1948 were more to ensure the smooth progress of the murderers, than to try and prevent [Gandhi’s] murder. . . . In hindsight, it can only be said that, in Gandhi’s murder, the police, by their negligence and inactions, were as much guilty as the murderers themselves. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 88-89.

. . . . Judge Atma Charan, the presiding judge in the trial for Gandhi’s murder, delivered a damning judgment concerning the police’s role in abetting the assassination:

  . . . . “I may bring to the notice of the Central Government the slackness of the police in the investigation of the case during the period between January 20, 1948, and January 30, 1948. The Delhi Police had obtained a detailed statement from Madanlal K. Pahwa soon after his arrest on January 20, 1948. The Bombay Police had also been reported [sic] the statement of Dr. J.C. Jain that he had made to the Honorable Mr. Morarji Desai on January 21, 1948. The Delhi Police and the Bombay Police had contacted each other soon after these two statements had been made. Yet the police miserably failed to derive any advantage from these two statements. Had the slightest keenness been shown in the investigation of the case at that stage the tragedy probably could have been avoided.”

 Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, has written about police complicity in the assassination:

 “According to a secret report submitted to Home Minister Sardar Patel, many in the police force and many bureaucrats were secret members of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, and were actively supporting and promoting the ideology of the Hindu extremist organizations. . . . The measures taken by the police between 20th and 30th January 1948 were more to ensure the smooth progress of the murderers, than to try and prevent [Gandhi’s] murder. . . .

 In hindsight, it can only be said that, in Gandhi’s murder, the police, by their negligence and inactions, were as much guilty as the murderers themselves. . . .”

 14. Government leaders, including Nehru and Patel appear to have been passively complicit in Gandhi’s murder, through failing to take necessary and, under the circumstances, obligatory security procedures. ” . . . . To what degree were the government’s leaders also responsible for Gandhi’s death? The official in charge of security for Prime Minister Nehru, G.K. Handoo, explained later to the Kapur Commission in its investigation of Gandhi’s assassination what should have been done to protect him from his assassins. Handoo said the government had a security blueprint to follow in such matters. . . . Yet in the ten days between the bombing and Gandhi’s murder, no such standard security measures were taken to protect him. Nehru and Patel did not deploy their security police as they would have done normally in such a situation—as was in fact done for themselves immediately after Gandhi’s murder, out of concern for their own lives. At a critical time, under a clearly identified threat, they failed to protect the life of the man they, their country, and the world most revered. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 89-90.

To what degree were the government’s leaders also responsible for Gandhi’s death?

 The official in charge of security for Prime Minister Nehru, G.K. Handoo, explained later to the Kapur Commission in its investigation of Gandhi’s assassination what should have been done to protect him from his assassins. Handoo said the government had a security blueprint to follow in such matters.

 Given the identification of the conspirators provided by Pahwa and Jain after the bomb explosion. Handoo said that Bombay and Poona police officers (with their familiarity of Godse, Apte, and other co-conspirators) should have been enlisted as spotters. They should have been posted to watch for the assassins at the Delhi airport, railway stations, hotels, and other key Delhi locations, particularly at Birla House during the prayer meetings. Two rings of plainclothes security police should have been formed to protect Gandhi, the first ring two to three yards from him, and the second ring twenty-five yards away.

 These were the kind of standard government security measures carried out for the prime minister and other VIPs, especially in the context of the recognized threat. Gandhi, considered “the father of the nation,” more than qualified for such security during the period of January 20-30, 1948, when a co-conspirator in custody had said repeatedly that Gandhi’s assassins would return. As MP questioner Rohini Chaudhury pointed out to Patel, Gandhi’s consent to security (except in the case of body searches) was not required. Nor was Gandhi adamantly opposed to a police presence. He had agreed, in deference to Nehru’s and Patel’s burden of responsibility, to whatever measures they thought necessary for his security (short of body searches), “Let them do whatever they like,” he had said.

Yet in the ten days between the bombing and Gandhi’s murder, no such standard security measures were taken to protect him. Nehru and Patel did not deploy their security police as they would have done normally in such a situation—as was in fact done for themselves immediately after Gandhi’s murder, out of concern for their own lives. At a critical time, under a clearly identified threat, they failed to protect the life of the man they, their country, and the world most revered. . . .

 15. V.D. Savarkar was charged as a defendant in the murder of Gandhi, but was protected by Godse and Apte. ” . . . . Savarkar was among those charged with Gandhi’s murder, Digambar Badge, who turned state’s evidence, testified in the murder trial about Godse’s and Apte’s meetings with Savarkar. Savarkar, however, was found not guilty because of a lack of corroborative evidence. Godse and Apte protected Savarkar all the way to their executions, denying vehemently any connection with Savarkar in the conspiracy. . . .”

Feigning loyalty to Gandhi, Savarkar read a statement to the court bemoaning his fate.

Godse, on the other hand, was allowed to read a nine-hour statement in court justifying and explaining his actions in killing Gandhi. It appears that Savarkar may well have been a major contributor to the composition of his protege’s oration. ” . . . Tushar Gandhi observed:  ‘The language of the statement leads one to the conclusion that much of it either flows directly from the pen of the master orator and wizard wordsmith, V.D. Savarkar, or was definitely embellished by him. Savarkar possessed a magical command over the spoken and written word. Even if not entirely written by Savarkar, the final draft was surely worked on by him converting it into a highly emotionally charged document’ . . .  The fact that Judge Atma Charan allowed Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s confessed assassin, to speak for nine hours, in an ideological assault on Gandhi and a judicial defense of Savarkar, shows just how much the court was subservient to the political power of Gandhi’s murderers. . . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 90-94.

. . . . Savarkar was among those charged with Gandhi’s murder, Digambar Badge, who turned state’s evidence, testified in the murder trial about Godse’s and Apte’s meetings with Savarkar. Savarkar, however, was found not guilty because of a lack of corroborative evidence. Godse and Apte protected Savarkar all the way to their executions, denying vehemently any connection with Savarkar in the conspiracy.

Savarkar read a fifty-seven-page statement in his defense. In it, he told the story of his life, portraying himself as a self-sacrificing patriot. He flatly denied all the charges against him. In conclusion, he cited statements he had made that he claimed showed his admiration and affection for Gandhi.

 P.L. Inamdar, a defense lawyer who professed a great admiration for Savarkar, was taken aback by Savarkar’s performance in defense of himself: “[Savarkar] read out the statement in the Court with all the gimmicks of an orator bemoaning his fate of being charged with the murder of Mahatmaji by the independent Indian government, when he admired and eulogized the  personality of the Mahatmaji so sincerely and so often. Savarkar actually wiped his cheeks in court while reading this part of his oration.”

 Although Savarkar was seated next to Godse in the defendant’s dock, he totally ignored him and the other defendants. Savarkar knew it was to his legal advantage if he acted as if he bore no relation to his co-defendants, especially the confessed shooter of Gandhi. Godse told friends how he “yearned for a touch of [Savarkar’s ] hand, a word of sympathy, or at least a look of compassion.” Godse, the triggerman, maintained his loyalty to Savarkar to the gallows, proclaiming his mentor’s innocence to the end. While Godse in his courtroom speech of defense derided the prosecutor because he “painted me as a mere tool in the hands of Veer Savarkar,” his teacher sat impassively, according to defense counsel Inamdar, like “a sphinx sculpted in stone.”

 Yet critics have maintained that Savarkar, in spite of his self-defensive, public coldness toward Godse, was actually the composer of Godse’s surprisingly eloquent, written statement. It took Godse nine hours to deliver his courtroom speech. Tushar Gandhi observed:

 “The language of the statement leads one to the conclusion that much of it either flows directly from the pen of the master orator and wizard wordsmith, V.D. Savarkar, or was definitely embellished by him. Savarkar possessed a magical command over the spoken and written word. Even if not entirely written by Savarkar, the final draft was surely worked on by him converting it into a highly emotionally charged document . . . . It was known that the accused were free to confer with each other in prison, and on several occasions guards had been caught smuggling out messages from the accused. There is no reason to believe that Nathuram was not able to get his mentor and guru, V.D. Sarvarkar, to help him polish what is today referred to by Nathuram’s ideoligical offspring as his last will and testament.”

 The fact that Judge Atma Charan allowed Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s confessed assassin, to speak for nine hours, in an ideological assault on Gandhi and a judicial defense of Savarkar, shows just how much the court was subservient to the political power of Gandhi’s murderers. Godse’s speech condemned his murder victim for his “submission to the Muslim’s blows.” Godse claimed he had to kill Gandhi for surrendering India to the Muslims, lest he “lead the nation to ruin and make it easy for Pakistan to enter the remaining India and occupy the same.” Gandhi’s “teachings of absolute ‘Ahimsa,'” Godse said, “would ultimately result in the emasculation of the Hindu community and thus make the community incapable of resisting the aggression or inroads of other communities especially the Muslims.” Godse contrasted Gandhi’s teaching of nonviolence with the militant Hindu ideology of “Brave” Savarkar, “the ablest and most faithful advocate of [the] Hindu cause.” Godse, however, insisted repeatedly that Savarkar had nothing to do with Gandhi’s murder.

16. The judge’s sanctioning of Godse’s nine-hour diatribe against Gandhi, the man for whose murder he was standing trial, exemplified the sanctified nature of Savarkar, the RSS, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Hindutva fascists behind Gandhi’s killing. “. . . . Why did the judge give Godse a courtroom platform from which he could launch an extended attack on the reputation of the man he had already shot to death? When Godse, and in effect, Savarkar, were allowed to attack Gandhi in a nine-hour courtroom diatribe, the defendants became the prosecution. It was a clear prelude to Savarkar being declared not guilty by the judge. . . .”

Information surfacing after the trial confirms that the authorities were complicit in covering up the murder. ” . . . .  It was only after Savarkar’s death in 1966 that a government commission reviewing Gandhi’s assassination revealed that the corroborative evidence to convict Savarkar had been in the government’s possession all along. On March 4, 1948, three months before the Gandhi murder trial began, Savarkar’s bodyguard, Appa Ramchandra Kasar, and his secretary, Bajanan Vishnu Damle, gave recorded statements to the Bombay police confirming that meetings between Savarkar, Godse, and Apte had in fact taken place before the assassination. Kasar and Damle also revealed that Savarkar had additional meetings in January with his other indicted co-conspirators, Karkare, Pahawa, Badge, and Parchure. . . .When summarizing evidence tying Savarkar into the plot, Justice Kapur stated in his report: ‘All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder [Gandhi] by Savarkar and his group.’ . . .”

Both Nehru and Patel had the damning information in hand within a month of the assassination: ” . . . Home minister Patel and Prime Minister Nehru soon learned that Savarkar was behind Gandhi’s murder. Less than a month after the assassination, Patel wrote to Nehru: ‘It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through.’ . . . Yet government prosecutors never called to the murder trial’s witness stand either Savarkar’s bodyguard, Kasar, or his secretary, Damle. . . . ”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 92-93.

. . . . Why did the judge give Godse a courtroom platform from which he could launch an extended attack on the reputation of the man he had already shot to death? When Godse, and in effect, Savarkar, were allowed to attack Gandhi in a nine-hour courtroom diatribe, the defendants became the prosecution. It was a clear prelude to Savarkar being declared not guilty by the judge.

 It was only after Savarkar’s death in 1966 that a government commission reviewing Gandhi’s assassination revealed that the corroborative evidence to convict Savarkar had been in the government’s possession all along. On March 4, 1948, three months before the Gandhi murder trial began, Savarkar’s bodyguard, Appa Ramchandra Kasar, and his secretary, Bajanan Vishnu Damle, gave recorded statements to the Bombay police confirming that meetings between Savarkar, Godse, and Apte had in fact taken place before the assassination. Kasar and Damle also revealed that Savarkar had additional meetings in January with his other indicted co-conspirators, Karkare, Pahawa, Badge, and Parchure.

 Justice J.L. Kapur, who chaired the commission on Gandhi’s murder, observed in his 1970 report:

 “All this shows that people who were subsequently involved in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi were all congregating sometime or the other at Savarkar Sadan and sometimes had long interviews with Savarkar. It is significant that Karkare and Madanlal [Pahwa] visited Savarkar before they left for Delhi and Apte and Godse visited him both before the bomb was thrown and also before the murder was committed and on each occasion they had long interviews.

 Bombay Police Commissioner Nagarvala, who acted with so little urgency while Gandhi was still alive, stated in a letter on January 31, 1948, that in the wake of Gandhi’s assassination, he had arrested Kasar, Savarkar’s bodyguard, and Damle, his secretary Nagarvala learned from them that Godse and Apte had met with Savarkar for forty minutes “on the eve of their departure to Delhi”–a critical meeting in addition to those identified by Badge, Kasar and Damle “had admitted that these two [Godse and Apte] had access to the huse of Savarkar without any restriction.

When summarizing evidence tying Savarkar into the plot, Justice Kapur stated in his report: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder [Gandhi] by Savarkar and his group.”

Home minister Patel and Prime Minister Nehru soon learned that Savarkar was behind Gandhi’s murder. Less than a month after the assassination, Patel wrote to Nehru: “It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through.”

Yet government prosecutors never called to the murder trial’s witness stand either Savarkar’s bodyguard, Kasar, or his secretary, Damle. Their statements would have corroborated and added to Badge’s testimony regarding Saarkar’s meetings with Godse and Apte. Neither did the prosecution cite from the interviews Kasar And Damle had given the police on the Savarkar-Godse-Apte meetings. The prosecution ignored these two key witnesses and their recorded information. Their testimony would have closed the government’s conspiracy case against Savarkar.

 So why did the government hold back critical evidence that would convicted Savarkar?

 17. A fundamental question looms over our presentation of the facts concerning Gandhi’s killing: ” . . . .  So why did the government hold back critical evidence that would convicted Savarkar? . . . Why did Morarji Desai, a prominent official who would eventually become India’s prime minister, defer to the defendant, Savarkar, rather than simply ‘give the full facts’ about the further evidence Desai had on Savarkar?  Why was it ‘for him [Savarkar, the defendant] to decide’ what Desai, the government officer in charge, was prepared but reluctant to testify?

 This courtroom encounter, deleted from the trial record but reported by ‘The Times of India’ journalist in attendance, suggests the unspeakable power that Savarkar retained even as Gandhi’s charged assassin. The looming possibility that Savarkar would be convicted on the evidence threatened the government prosecuting him. It was for Savarkar to decide what Desai should say on the witness stand. . . .This courtroom encounter, deleted from the trial record but reported by ‘The Times of India’ journalist in attendance, suggests the unspeakable power that Savarkar retained even as Gandhi’s charged assassin. The looming possibility that Savarkar would be convicted on the evidence threatened the government prosecuting him. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; p. 94.

A revealing exchange occurred in the Gandhi murder trial, when witness Morarji Desai, the Bombay government’s home minister, was cross-examined by Savarkar’s lawyer. Desai was testifying on what Professor Jain had told him, after Pahwa’s arrest for the January 20 attempt to kill Gandhi: Pahwa told Jain earlier that Savarkar was involved in the plot. Desai said he then ordered the police to place a watch on Savarkar’s house. Savarkar’s attorney asked Desai: “Did you have any other information about Savarkar, besides Professor Jain’s statement, for directing steps to be taken as regards him?”

 Desai responded: “Shall I give the full facts? I am prepared to answer. It is for him [Savarkar] to decide.’

 Savarkar’s defender withdrew the question. He asked the judge to delete the exchange from the record as well as his motion to delete. The judge complied. The record was sanitized.

 Why did Morarji Desai, a prominent official who would eventually become India’s prime minister, defer to the defendant, Savarkar, rather than simply “give the full facts” about the further evidence Desai had on Savarkar?

 Why was it “for him [Savarkar, the defendant] to decide” what Desai, the government officer in charge, was prepared but reluctant to testify?

This courtroom encounter, deleted from the trial record but reported by “The Times of India” journalist in attendance, suggests the unspeakable power that Savarkar retained even as Gandhi’s charged assassin. The looming possibility that Savarkar would be convicted on the evidence threatened the government prosecuting him. It was for Savarkar to decide what Desai should say on the witness stand.

 Tushar Gandhi, citing Patel, concluded that Savarkar was acquitted because of an unspeakable political necessity: “Patel had admitted that the government had ‘annoyed’ the Muslims, [and] we could not afford the Hindus too.’ If Savarkar had been found guilty and sentenced, it would have caused a massive Hindu extremist reaction, which the Congress was scared of facing.” . . . .

 18. Savarkar’s political reputation has been burnished by the RSS and its political cat’s paw the BJP. Furthermore the BJP has instituted an Orwellian re-write of Indian school text books. ” . . . . Once the BJP took power through a ruthless, anti-Muslim strategy, it set out to rewrite history. BJP writers revised school textbooks to convey a Hindu nationalist slant in the history of India. Some things were better left unsaid. The new history books simply omitted Gandhi’s assassination by RSS member Godse.

The BJP also used its power in Delhi to revise the dark history of its ideological source, recreating Savarkar as a brave patriot. On May 4, 2002, BJP leader L.K. Advani, who had become the government’s home minister, officially renamed Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands as ‘Veer Savarkar Airport.’ The government then unveiled a plaque in honor of Savarkar at the site of his cell at Port Blair. In 2003, the government placed Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament House in New Delhi. The BJP was trying to transform Savarkar in the public mind from the mastermind of Gandhi’s murder into a mythical liberator of the country. . . .”

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 98-99.

. . . . As Patel and Nehru should have learned from Gandhi’s insistence that the truth is always paramount, their government’s unwillingness to pursue the truth in his death would not lay a solid foundation for the country. The newly independent government’s deliberate failure to convict Saravkar of Gandhi’s murder gave Savarkar’s followers a freer hand in revising his image. Since Savarkar’s own death in 1966, a broader movement has risen from his ideology.

 The RSS, which slavishly followed Savarkar and whose member Nathuram Godse shot Gandhi to death, has become the second largest political movement in the world after the Chinese Communist Party. Using Savarkar’s ideology of Hindutva, the RSS created a cluster of Hindu nationalist groups. The RSS “family” includes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which became the driving power of India’s coalition government from 1998 to 2004.

Once the BJP took power through a ruthless, anti-Muslim strategy, it set out to rewrite history. BJP writers revised school textbooks to convey a Hindu nationalist slant in the history of India. Some things were better left unsaid. The new history books simply omitted Gandhi’s assassination by RSS member Godse.

The BJP also used its power in Delhi to revise the dark history of its ideological source, recreating Savarkar as a brave patriot. On May 4, 2002, BJP leader L.K. Advani, who had become the government’s home minister, officially renamed Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands as “Veer Savarkar Airport.” The government then unveiled a plaque in honor of Savarkar at the site of his cell at Port Blair. In 2003, the government placed Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament House in New Delhi. The BJP was trying to transform Savarkar in the public mind from the mastermind of Gandhi’s murder into a mythical liberator of the country. . . .

19. Muslim activist Shaheed Suhrwardy was an ally of Gandhi’s in his attempt to end Muslim-Hindu violence in India and Pakistan.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 60-61.

Gandhi’s deep belief in people who opposed him was exemplified by his persistent friendship with Shaheed Suhrwardy, the Muslim League’s Chief Minister of Bengal in 1946-47.

When Gandhi made his lonely pilgrimage of reconciliation through the Noakhalli district of Bengal in 1947, Chief Minister Suhrwardy told him to go elsewhere. Suhrwardy downplayed Muslim violence against the minority Hindus, whose evidence of persecution Gandhi saw at first hand. Suhrwardy was notorious among Hindus for his government’s complicity in the Great Calcutta Killing of August 1946, when 4,000 people were killed and 11,000 injured in four terrible days of Muslim League “direct action” and Hindu retaliation. In the minds of Hindus, Shaheed Suhrawardy was their archenemy, thought to be the man most responsible for the Great Calcutta Killing. Yet Gandhi insisted on the responsibility and redemption of both sides, excluding no one. He reached out to Suhrwardy, challenging but not condemning him. . . .

20. Originally targeted by the participants in the 1/20/1948 assassination attempt on Gandhi, Suhrawardy became a prime Pakistani advocate for democracy after working with Gandhi to tamp down Hindu-Muslim violence in the wake of the partition of India and Pakistan.

Driven out of Pakistan, former Prime Minister Suhrawardy died under mysterious circumstances in Lebanon after receiving word of plotting against his life by elements of the Pakistani national security apparatus.

Gandhi and the Unspeakable by James Douglass; Copyright 2012 by James Douglass; Orbis Books [HC]; ISBN 978-1-57075-963-5; pp. 66-67.

. . . . Two days later, at the prayer meeting, Suhrawardy announced he would be joining Gandhi on his next mission of peace. He said he would be going with him to the Punjab—but as it turned out, to Delhi. He said, “I have put myself unreservedly under Mahatmaji’s orders. Hereafter I will carry out his biddings.”

 Suhrawardy would work with Gandhi for the five months left until his assassination. That fall Suhrawardy shuttled between India and Pakistan, acting as Gandhi’s intermediary in his futile appeals to Jinnah for mutual cooperation.

 In October, Gandhi wrote another message of costly grace to Suhrwardy: “You and I have to die in the attempt to make [Hindus and Muslims] live together as friends and brothers, which they are.”

 In the years following Gandhi’s assassination, Shaheed Suhrawardy would become a leader of pro-democracy movements in Pakistan. In 1956, as the National Assembly’s opposition leader, he helped create the constitution of Pakistan.  He then became the country’s prime minister from September 1956 to October 1957.

 After he left office, the next government suspended the constitution and declared martial law. In 1958, Suhrawardy to support Ayub Khan’s dictatorship. In 1959, the government banned him from politics. As he continued to voice his dissent, in 1962, he was charged with “anti-state activities.” He was imprisoned in solitary confinement for six months.

 Upon his release in August 1962, Suhrawardy courageously launched a movement in resistance to Ayub Khan’s military dictatorship. His goal was to restore the 1956 constitution and a parliamentary democracy.

While the pro-democracy movement was growing, its leader Shaheed Suhrawardy died suddenly on December 5, 1963, in a hotel room in Beirut Lebanon. Expiring “under unusually mysterious circumstances,” he was possibly “poisoned or gassed in his bedroom.”

 Mohammad Talukdar, the editor of Shaheed Suhrawardy’s memoirs, has noted two ominous statements from the powerful to Pakistan shortly before Suhrawardy’s  death. The first came from Sulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Pakistan’s foreign minister, who passed on to Suhrawardy through a mutual friend the warning: “Tell Suhrawardy not to try and return to Pakistan. Otherwise I shall make sure personally that he never sets foot on its soil.” Bhutto’s threat was followed by a caution from an office in Pakistan’s Intelligence Department to Suhrwardy’s son: “Tell your father to take great care of himself. The word is going round that they are out to get him.” Three days later his father was dead. . . . .

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #988 Hindutva Fascism, Part 1: The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Part 1 and and FTR #989 Hindutva Fascism, Part 2: The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Part 2”

  1. This was a remarkable tribute – I relistened to both parts several times. I never realized the complexity involving Gandhi’s murder until now. Thank you Mr Emory

    Posted by Susan Shpak | December 25, 2017, 10:43 pm

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