MUMBAI, Nov 28: Gopal Godse, the last surviving member of the five-man group convicted in the 1948 assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, died in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Sunday after a prolonged illness, his son Nana Godse said. Godse served 18 years in prison for his role in the crime.
The five men who plotted the execution were members of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha, which blamed Gandhi for the partition of India and for what they saw as the sacrifice of Hindu interests.
Gopal testified against his brother, Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Gandhi and was hanged to death with another accused in 1949. Gopal Godse and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
“With the death of Gopal Godse the physical story of the Gandhi assassination comes to an end, though the political ideology of the murderers had long ceased to exist,” said Kumar Ketkar, political analyst and editor of the Maharashtra-based daily newspaper, Loksatta.
Ketkar said that while Hindu nationalism is still a potent force in Indian politics, the partition of India is no longer a sore wound but an accepted reality.
After his release in 1966, Godse lived in Delhi for 10 years, where he continued to work with the Hindu Mahasabha.
Godse eventually settled with his family in the central Indian city of Pune, 180kms south of Mumbai.
He was cremated in Pune on Sunday in a service attended by family, friends and some Hindu nationalists, who sang inspirational Hindu songs during the ceremony.
Godse wrote a number of books about the assassination in Marathi, the state language of Maharashtra, including ‘Gandhi Hatya Ani Me’, (Gandhi’s Assassination and Me), about the planning and execution of the killing.
Godse also published a version of the banned statement his brother gave during his trial, outlining his reasons for killing Gandhi.—AFP