It was a cold morning on 30 Jan 1948. Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte and Vishnu Karkare met together once again in Retiring Room number 6 at Old Delhi Railway Station.
Godse had failed in his two earlier attempts to kill Gandhi. He did not want to fail again. “Third time success,” he said half jokingly to his friends.
“There will be heavy police guard for Gandhi especially because of the murder attempt just ten days back,” said Godse.
Godse suggested they should buy an old camera which needed a tripod and a black hood. He would pose as a photographer and conceal the pistol inside the base of the camera.
“Nobody uses that sort of a camera nowadays,” said Apte. He dismissed it as “a bad idea.”
“Disguise yourself as a Muslim woman wearing a burqa,” suggested Karkare. “There are many Muslim women who attend Gandhi’s prayers. After all, he is their saviour, isn’t he?” He spat out his hatred.
“No,” said Godse having put on the burqa that was brought in. “The folds are a hindrance. I won’t ever be able to take out the pistol at the right time.”
“Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best,” said Apte when they had wasted almost the whole morning discussing various ideas. Apte suggested that Godse should wear a greyish military suit which was very commonly used by people those days. Its design was such that it could conceal a pistol easily.
They went to the Birla temple. Apte and Karkare offered prayers to the deities for the success of their mission. Godse did not enter the temple. When Apte and Karkare returned having offered their obeisance to goddess Kali, they found Godse standing beside a statue of Shivaji. “I have had my darshan,” he said curtly.
Godse had been convincing himself that he was indeed doing the right thing by killing Gandhi. Gandhi had blasphemed Hinduism and its gods. He had made the Hindus weaklings. He had let the Muslims get away with what they wanted. Godse could feel hatred surging in his veins. Murderous hatred. His grip on the pistol became tight.
None of the three men had imagined that they could gain entry to the Birla House so easily. There were no guards at the gate. 5.10 pm. Gandhi was late. Finally he came supporting himself on the shoulders of Abha and Manu.
“Namaste, Gandhiji,” said Godse as he stepped right in front of Gandhi.
“Brother,” said Manu, “Bapu is already ten minutes late...”
Godse pushed her aside fiendishly, took out his pistol and fired three times.
“All those who believe in the brotherhood of men will mourn Gandhi’s death,” said the French Premier, Georges Bidault, on hearing of the assassination.
“India is for the Hindus,” asserted Godse as he awaited his death in the prison. He could never understand the meaning of concepts like “brotherhood of men”.