NEW DELHI, India, Feb.1: Reuter: Gopal Godse, who conspired 40 years ago to assassinate Indian Independence Leader, Mahatma Gandhi, has defended the decision to kill the Father of the Nation but acknowledged his greatness. Godse’s elder brother Nathutam and another conspirator Narayan Apte were sentenced to death after the murder in January 30, 1949, Godse told the Sunday Mail newspaper in an interview:

“Ours was not a commonplace murder, it had its own dignity”.

Nathuram fired at Gandhi after a dawn prayer meeting in the New Delhi home of an industrialist.

Godse, who spent 17 years in jail, said he believed Gandhi was responsible for persuading the Indian government to pay million of dollars to Pakistan as part of a transfer of assets after partition in August, 1947.

“Considering the situation existence then, I still feel that our act was just the natural reaction’, he said in the interview.

“Our act was justified because we were prepared to pay the price for the blood we shed with our own blood. We wanted to check the harm done and in order to do so, if some blood is shed, then it ts justified”, he said.

Godse has rarely been interviewed in the past 40 years mainly because Indian newspapers have

shunned the family, which espouses radical Hindu revivalist sentiments. The family still keeps the ashes of Nathuram at home.

The murder sent shock waves across the world. “If one has to be honest to history, we cannot deny Gandhi’s greatness. Butat the same time that greatness was not an excuse for acting according to his own whim”, Godse said.

Gandhi insisted that the Indian government pay millions of dollars to Pakistan as agreed between the two countries. But the decision came during a time of mutual bitterness over partition and the migration of millions from one side to another.

Godse said he was included late into the conspiracy to kill Gandhi and the three had considered the possibility of kidnapping the Indian leader rather than kill him.

“But that alternative was not possible because it would require manpower which we did not have. So the shortest and easiest way out was to do away with him”

“We didn’t expect any support and we didn’t wait for any. We were there to sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of the nation and remove the hurdle in its path”, he added.

India observed the anniversary of the Mahatma’s death with prayer meetings across the country two days ago.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 6, 1987