|Born||19 May 1910
Baramati, Pune District, British India
|Died||15 November 1949 (aged 39)
Ambala Prison, Haryana, India
A commonly held theory suggests that Nathuram was given his name because of an unfortunate incident. Before he was born, his parents had three sons and a daughter, with all three boys dying in their infancy. Fearing a curse that targeted male children, young Ramachandra was brought up as a girl for the first few years of his life, including having his nose pierced and being made to wear a nose-ring ("Nath" in Marathi). It was then that he earned the nickname "Nathuram" (literally "Ram with a nose-ring"). After his younger brother was born, they switched to treating him as a boy. However, other biographers dismiss this claim, together with claims that Godse was a homosexual, as a fabrication by the Congress Party of India, meant to exploit the prejudices against transvestites and homosexuals in conservative Indian society in order to demonize Godse.
Nathuram Godse attended the local school at Baramati through the fifth standard, after which he was sent to live with an aunt in Pune so that he could study at an English-language school. During his school days, Gandhi was an idol to him.
Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with the Hindu Mahasabha. He was an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist; whether he left the organization is controversial. They were particularly opposed to the separatist politics of the All India Muslim League. Godse started a Marathi newspaper for Hindu Mahasabha called Agrani, which some years later was renamed Hindu Rashtra.
The Hindu Mahasabha had initially backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government.
Godse and his mentors later turned and rejected Gandhi, as they felt that Gandhi was sacrificing Hindu interests in an effort to appease Muslim interests. They blamed Gandhi for the Partition of India, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the wake of religious unrest.
Godse assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948, approaching him during the evening prayer, bowing, and shooting him three times at close range with a Beretta semi-automatic pistol. After the incident, he made no attempt to escape, surrendering himself to the police. It is said that he was angry when India agreed to give 420 million rupees to the newly formed Pakistan. Godse did not agree with this course of action. He believed the region to have been weakened when Pakistan achieved independence (which he believed was done by spurring hostility between the Hindus and the Muslims).
Following his assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, he was put on trial beginning 27 May 1948. During the trial, he did not defend any charge and openly admitted that he killed Gandhi after a long disposition on his reasons for assassinating Gandhi. On 8 November 1949, Godse was sentenced to death. Godse's legal team was savaged by critics for not introducing considerable evidence that their client was mentally unbalanced and/or manipulated by others. Among those calling for commutation of the death sentence for the defendants were Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as Gandhi's two sons, who felt that the two men on trial were pawns of RSS higher-ups, and in any case, executing their father's killers would dishonour his memory and legacy which included a staunch opposition to the death penalty. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on 15 November 1949, along with Narayan Apte, the other conspirator. Savarkar was also charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Gandhi, but was acquitted and subsequently released.
Millions of Indians mourned Gandhi's assassination. Massive anti-Brahmin riots spread, especially across Maharashtra state, as Godse was a Brahmin. The Sangli and Miraj regions were hit harder. Houses of Brahmins were burned, looted and a number of people died. The Hindu Mahasabha was vilified and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, was temporarily banned. However, investigators could find no evidence that the RSS bureaucracy had formally sponsored or even knew of Godse's plot. The RSS ban was lifted by Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1949.
The RSS to this day denies any connection with Godse and dispute the claim that he was a member.
After the assassination, many criticized the Indian government for not doing more to protect Gandhi who, earlier in the week, had been the target of a bomb plot by the same conspirators who later shot him. Of particular concern was the fact that a Bombay detective had wired the names and descriptions of the assassins along with the fact that they were known to be in Delhi stalking Gandhi. On the other hand, the Mahatma had repeatedly refused to cooperate with his own security and had resigned himself to a violent death which he accepted as an inevitable part of his destiny.
A film, Nine Hours to Rama, was made in 1963 and was based on the events leading up to the assassination, seen mainly from Godse's point of view. The film Hey Ram, made in 2000, also briefly touches upon events related to the assassination. The popular Marathi language play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy Marathi: मी नथुराम गोदसे बोलतोय("I am Nathuram Godse, Speaking") was also made from Godse's point of view.
Nathuram Vinayak Godse (Marathi: नथूराम गोडसे)( नात्थूराम विनायक गोडसे , ਨਥੂਰਾਮ ਵਿਨਾਯਕ ਗੋਡਸੇ ) (May 19, 1910 – November 15, 1949), born at Baramati, Pune District, India was the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
Godse dropped out of high school and became an activist with the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindu Mahasabha had initially backed Gandhi's campaigns of civil disobedience against the British government. But Godse and his mentors later rejected Gandhi. They felt that Gandhi was sacrificing Hindu interests in an effort to appease minority groups. They blamed Gandhi for the Partition of India, which left hundreds of thousands of people in bed.
The immediate motive for the assassination is usually ascribed to Gandhi's January 13, 1948 decision to fast to the death unless the Indian central government reversed a decision to withhold the transfer of 55 crore (550 million) rupees to the government of Pakistan. The transfer had been specified in the partition agreement, but the Indian government had refused to complete it, complaining of continued Pakistani rebel occupation of disputed parts of Kashmir.
The Indian government immediately reversed its decision to withhold the funds, which infuriated Godse and his fellow Hindu radicals.
It is far from clear whether or not the decision to assassinate Gandhi was taken by Godse alone, or whether he had consulted with other Mahasabha members, or even received their help in carrying out the assassination. The Mahasabha resolutely denied all complicity, and Godse took full responsibility. However, many critics believe that Godse did not act alone.