History

Mahatma Gandhi – dying for freedom

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  • Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948. Why was Gandhi killed and what events occurred before and after Gandhi’s murder?

    On January 20, 1948, Hindu fanatic Gopal Godse tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. Ten days later, his brother Nathuram did what Gopal had failed to do: He killed Gandhi.

    For Gopal Godse, the day of India’s independence in August 1947 was almost a day of mourning. “Bharat Mata,” the “Mother India” that the young Brahmin worshipped with a nationalist fervor, had lost many of its provinces. Predominantly Muslim East Bengal had become East Pakistan. And thousands of kilometers to the west, part of Punjab, the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and the tribal lands of the warlike Pashtuns now formed Muslim majority West Pakistan.

    Godse blamed the British for the loss of territory, but most of all he blamed a fellow Hindu; a man celebrated as a hero because he had stood up to the British, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known to many as the Mahatma. Gandhi had always condemned conflicts between the different religious communities and had fought until the end to prevent India being partitioned, but the Godse brothers did not care. They were members of the right-wing radical Hindu Mahasabha, which had links with the fascist leaning anti-British paramilitary RSS – organizations widely seen as antecedents of the current generation of radical Hindu ideologues.

    This documentary shows how India was dogged by nationalism and religious conflict on its path to independence – and how these factors mark the country to this day. On 20 January 1948, Gopal Godse, a Hindu fanatic, attempted to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. Ten days later, his brother Nathuram Godse managed to finish the job: he killed Gandhi.

    Directed by: Arno Hefner

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