Delhi : Walking down the memory lane, Shri K D Madan, one of the few surviving witnesses to Bapu’s assassination recollected the events that happened on the fateful evening of January 30, 1948 at the very place where the Mahatma was assassinated. Speaking in a programme organized today by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in association with Gandhi Peace Foundation, Gandhi Nidhi, AVARD and National Gandhi Museum, in the rear lawns of the erstwhile Birla House now Gandhi Smriti, Shri Madan narrated in details those moments which history can’t forget.
Shri Madan, an octogenarian now, was present on that day as a 24 years old Programme Officer of All India Radio (AIR) to record the Mahatma’s post-prayer speech. Shri Madan said he was checking his microphone when he heard a gunshot. He continued to concentrate on what he was doing when he heard the second gunshot. “By instinct, I knew what had happened,” he said, “After the third gun shot I saw Gandhi fall. A tall and well built person with a flowing white beard clad in white kurta pyjama lifted the Mahatma’s body all by himself and slowly walked to the room which had been Gandhi’s last abode.”
Shri Madan at that time thought that the well-built person who lifted Bapu was Dinshaw Mehta, Gandhiji’s nature care doctor. However, later he found out that Dr Mehta was at Karachi at the time. He asked the audience if anybody was willing to research on this aspect of history as the world still doesn’t know who that person was. “Moments later, I noticed that someone had circled off the spot where Gandhi had fallen with a handful of humble twigs, and in the middle of that circle, a tiny candle placed on a small stone was burning with a flickering flame. Bu then, the sun had set and it was dark,” he added.
He also talked about the humility of Gandhi and how he would stop his speech at 29 minutes after he came to know that AIR could broadcast his speech for 30 minutes only. Shri Madan said, “Even in the middle of a sentence when Bapu saw my raised finger, he would stop and say ‘bus ho gya’.” He said this could be corroborated with the archives of AIR that all his speeches after October 1947 ended in this manner. Shri Madan also talked about the immense power that Gandhi wielded even without holding any office. “His word was like law for the people as well as the Government of India, “he added.
Another eye-witness to the assassination, Shri Dev Dutt, veteran journalist and social worker said that as a young man he was amazed to find out that people in Delhi and also in the remote villages who had never seen Gandhi mourned his death as if someone in their own families had passed away. Shri Dev Dutt said that most of the big institutions today have limited Gandhi to mere rituals and functions whereas the living Gandhi exists amidst the masses and smaller organizations. He also said that the youth of today is curious to know more about Bapu and onus falls entirely on Gandhian organizations to bring them closer to Bapu’s message.
The talk was followed by the screening of a 90-minute film, ‘Twentieth century prophet-Mahatma Gandhi’. The film reflects the efforts of Shri A Karupanna Chettiar of Kottaiyur near Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu and his cameraman L V Pathi. The film was first screened in Chennai in 1940. The film has original footages of the Mahatma.
Amongst those present on the occasion were Smt Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, Vice Chairperson, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti; Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal; Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth; Shri Anupam Mishra, Gandhi Peace Foundation and Shri Ramchandra Rahi, Secretary, Gandhi Memorial Trust.
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti
November 10, 2010