Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as ‘father of the nation’ in India, was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948.
He had once said, “If I’m to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. God must be in my heart and on my lips.”
Uttering “Hey Ram”, the 79 yo had breathed his last breath.
To pay respect to ‘Bapu’, Martyrs Day or ‘Shaheed Divas’ is observed on January 30 every year in India.
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Before suffering the final fatal blow by Nathuram Godse, Gandhiji had been subjected to five failed assassination attempts.
In the book “Beyond Doubt – A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination” (2015), edited by the Indian journalist and civil rights activist, Teesta Setalvad, all the five murder attempts were documented.
- First attempt – 25 June 1934 – Pune – Car bomb
- Second attempt – July 1944 – Panchgani – Dagger
- Third attempt – September 1944 – Mumbai – Dagger
- Fourth attempt – June 1946 – near Pune – Train crash
- Fifth attempt – 20 January 1948 – Delhi – Bomb
On 30 June 1946, speaking at a prayer meeting in Pune, Gandhiji said:
“By the grace of God, I have escaped from the jaws of death. I have not hurt anybody. I cant understand why there are so many attempts on my life. Yesterday’s attempt to failed. I will not die yet, I aim to live till the age of 125.”
Godse assassinated Gandhiji in the compound of Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti). He was waiting in the crowd and as soon as Gandhi began to walk toward the dais, Godse stepped out flanking Gandhiji’s path and fired three bullets into his chest and abdomen at point-blank range.
Godse was immediately captured by members of the crowd and handed over to the police. He was sentenced to death on 8 November 1949 and hanged in the Ambala Jail on 15 November 1949.
Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, speech on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was telecasted on All India Radio on the evening of January 30, 1948.
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The central government has instructed all states and union territories to observe two minutes’ silence at 11 am on January 30 to pay respect to those who lost their lives during the struggle for India’s freedom.
“In the past, it has been observed that while two minutes’ silence is observed in some offices, the general public goes about its occupation in the ordinary course, unmindful of the solemnity of the occasion. The State and Union territories governments are requested to ensure that the Martyrs’ Day is observed with due solemnity,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (India) said in its order.
March 23 is also celebrated as Martyrs Day or ‘Shaheed Divas’ to pay respect to Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar, who were hanged death on this day in 1931.
On this day, let us not forget the sacrifice of all our freedom fighters.
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