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Safar 11, 1440

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Pakistan Standard Time 9:43 am


Assassination of Mr Gandhi

Guardian Newspapers - January 31, 1948

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a young Hindu extremist while walking to his prayer meeting in the lawn of Birla House, New Delhi, yesterday. He was 78. In India, where only one short outbreak of disorder is reported, a state of mourning will be observed for 13 days; flags will fly at half mast, and no public entertainments will be held.

The news of the assassination has had a profound effect throughout the world. Messages of sympathy have been sent by the King and the President of the United States and by many Premiers. The theme of all comment, whether by statesmen or by the common man, is the same - "a saint," "a giant among men," "irreplaceable."

Mahatma Gandhi was shot and killed this evening by a Hindu fanatic. He was walking from Birla House to the lawn where his evening prayer meetings are held and was several minutes late for the meeting. He was as usual, leaning on the shoulders of two grand-nieces, and when he approached the meeting a man dressed in a khaki bush jacket and blue trousers and standing within five feet of Gandhi greeted him with the customary Hindu salutation of namesteh - that is; with folded hands.

Gandhi smiled at him, and, according to one version, spoke to him. The man then whipped out a pistol from inside his pocket and fired three times at point-blank range. The bullets lodged in Gandhi's chest, stomach and groin. He raised his hands above his head in the same salutation as he fell. He was carried into Birla House and died half an hour later, at about 5.40.

Assasssin beaten by crowd

The man, who gave his name as Nathuram, fired a fourth shot, apparently in an effort to kill himself, but a Royal Indian Air Force sergeant standing alongside jolted his arm and wrenched the pistol away. The sergeant wanted to shoot the man but was stopped by the police. An infuriated crowd fell upon the man and beat him with sticks, but he was apprehended by the police and taken to a police station.

Questioned by reporters, the man, who speaks English, said he was not sorry he had killed Gandhi but would explain his reasons in court. His origin is still obscure, but he is said to be a Brahmin, and according to one report, comes from Poona. The pistol he used was a 38 calibre Biretta of Italian manufacture; scores of these weapons were captured from the Italians in North Africa and smuggled back to India by Indian soldiers. The man is a fair-skinned individual of medium height and spare build aged about 30.

News of Gandhi's death was announced by the All-India Radio at six o'clock and a crowd of several thousands immediately gathered at Birla House. The crowd was tense but subdued, and its mood appeared to be one of stunned sorrow.

Repercussions of the crime are certain to be widespread and intense throughout India and Pakistan. It may produce that change of heart for which Gandhi laboured and gave his life. On the other hand it may stimulate communal frenzy; the presence of 5,000,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan (of whom about 400,000 are in Delhi) has exacerbated public tempers and communal organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh have been active in preaching vengeance against Pakistan.

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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