Opinion: Nathuram Godse may be a Killer, but he was a patriotic Indian and will always be.

Since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, there has been a debate in the country about Nathuram Godse. While a large section of the country considers Nathuram as a killer of Gandhi, some people even call him a terrorist. On 2nd October 2019, India celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and people still get inspired by his greatness and good deeds. But whenever we talk about Gandhiji, people start dragging Godse in between. Some politicians always bring Godse in their politics in order to remain in limelight.

Nathuram Godse was from a Marathi Brahmin family. Nathuram was a staunch supporter of Hindu nationalism. In the beginning career, he joined the Sangh. He was very much influenced by Hindu nationalist V.D. Savarkar, Swami Vivekananda, and Subhas Chandra Bose. He later quit the Sangh and joined the Hindu Mahasabha. In the year 1940, the then Nizam of Hyderabad imposed jizya tax on Hindus. On hearing this, Godse was furious and fought against him for the welfare of society. Due to which the Nizam put him and his companions in jail, but later the Nizam had to withdraw his decision.

Gandhi and Godse:

Godse himself once said that the spirit of patriotism developed in him because of Veer Savarkar and Mahatma Gandhi. He believed that Mahatma Gandhi played a crucial role in making India free from the British. Nathuram Godse strongly supported Mahatma Gandhi and actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement. But when Gandhiji announced the withdrawal of the movement, many nationalist and extremist leaders including Godse condemned Gandhi’s move. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose himself condemned. Nathuram Godse was disappointed and saddened by Gandhi’s decision. 

Why did Nathuram Godse kill Gandhiji?

It is believed that many Hindus and Muslims were killed in the communal riots that broke out during the Indo-Pak partition that saddened Godse because Gandhiji did not do anything. Some people also believe that after independence when India was divided into two nations, Pakistan became a Muslim nation but India became a secular country instead of becoming a Hindu nation and Gandhiji is considered to be the reason behind the partition of India. After the Indo-Pak partition, the Government of India had to give 75 crores rupees to Pakistan, of which 20 crores had already been given, the remaining 55 crores were to be given.

Meanwhile, Pakistan attacked Kashmir with a view to capturing the state. After this, neither Prime Minister Nehru nor Home Minister Sardar Patel was in favor of giving the remaining Rs 55 crore to Pakistan. But Mahatma Gandhi went on a dharna,  due to which Nathuram realized that Gandhi always cheated Hindus in the name of Anshan. With this, the ideological differences between Gandhi and Godse turned into a mutual rivalry.

On 30 January 1949, Mahatma Gandhi left for the Birla temple in Delhi to address a prayer meeting. Where Gandhiji came across Nathuram Godse. Godse greeted great leader Gandhi by saying ‘Namaste Bapu’ and fired three shots into his chest and surrendered himself to the police. 

Now here is the question, is Nathuram Godse a traitor or a killer of Gandhi or a nationalist? The nation is paramount for every Indian and no one is above the nation, whether it is Mahatma Gandhi or Nathuram Godse. Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi, so he is the killer of Gandhiji.

Godse was sentenced to death on 8 November 1949. Pleas for commutation were made by Gandhi’s two sons, Manilal Gandhi and Ramdas Gandhi, but these pleas were turned down by India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and the Governor-General Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. Godse was hanged at Ambala Jail on 15 November 1949.

But the question is, does Nathuram Godse’s patriotism end by killing Mahatma Gandhi? What about the works, done by Godse for the well being of the nation before the assassination of Gandhi. Do they have no values? If someone kills someone because of some reason, will he be called a terrorist? And if it is so, then there are millions of people in India who have killed many people, will they all be terrorists. If Gandhi’s assassination makes Godse terrorist, people who killed former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, are also terrorists. Why does the oldest political party of country Congress join hands with the Tamil Nadu party that supports Rajiv Gandhi’s killers? If they are not traitors or terrorists who support Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, then how can those who support Godse be wrong?

At last, I believe that Godse who killed Gandhi is a killer. He did not kill Gandhi because of his personal selfishness but because of ideological differences. Still, he is a murderer, but also a patriot. Only one thing about Nathuram Godse has been told in the country that he killed Gandhi, but there is a need to reveal his story before Gandhi’s assassination. Your perception towards Godse might be different but ultimately we should always look at both aspects of a person’s life.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.