After his arrest, he spotted Gandhi's son Devdas who was editor of Hindustan Times. The encounter was described by Nathuram's brother and co-conspirator and fellow convict (though he was only jailed and not hanged) Gopal Godse, in his book Gandhiji's Murder And After. The younger Gandhi has come to the police station in Parliament Street to see his father's killer. Gopal Godse writes that Devdas "had perhaps come there expecting to find some horrid-looking, blood-thirsty monster, without a trace of politeness; Nathuram's gentle and clear words and his self-composure were quite inconsistent with what he had expected to see."
Of course we do not know if this was the case. Nathuram tells Devdas: "I am Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the editor of a daily, Hindu Rashtra. I too was present there (at Gandhi's murder). Today you have lost your father and I am the cause of that tragedy. I am very much grieved at the bereavement that has befallen you and the rest of your family. Kindly believe me, I was not prompted to do this with any personal hatred, or any grudge or any evil intention towards you."
Devdas replies: "Then why did you do it?"
Nathuram says "the reason is purely political and political alone!" He asks for time to explain his case but the police do not allow this. In court, Nathuram explained himself in a statement, but the court banned it. Gopal Godse reprints Nathuran's will in an annexure to his book. The last line reads: "If and when the government lifts the ban on my statement made in the court, I authorise you to publish it."
So what is in that statement? In it Godse makes the following points:
That he respected Gandhi and "above all I studied very closely whatever Veer Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more to the moulding of the thought and action of the Indian people during the last thirty years or so, than any other single factor has done."
Godse felt about Gandhi that "the accumulating provocation of thirty–two years, culminating in his last pro–Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately. Gandhi had done very well in South Africa to uphold the rights and well–being of the Indian community there. But when he finally returned to India he developed a subjective mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong. If the country wanted his leadership, it had to accept his infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and carry on his own way."
This led to thought of action against Gandhi because, in Nathuram's view, "against such an attitude there can be no halfway house. Either Congress had to surrender its will to his and had to be content with playing second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him."
The other charge is that Gandhi helped create Pakistan: "When top leaders of Congress, with the consent of Gandhi, divided and tore the country – which we consider a deity of worship – my mind was filled with direful anger. I bear no ill will towards anyone individually but I do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their policy which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the presence of Gandhi."
There is a problem with Godse's argument and it is this. He thinks Gandhi was enthusiastic about dividing India when everything in history tells us the case was the opposite. He says Gandhi was a tyrant in Congress but also says Gandhi fasted to get the Congress to see his point of view. Why would a tyrant need to do anything other than just command? Nathuram objects to Gandhi's final fast (against India's refusal to release funds to Pakistan), but that was after India went back on its promise. It was Gandhi who made India act correctly and decently in that instance.
Little of what Nathuram says makes sense by way of logic. It is, contrary to his statement to Devdas, not politics that shaped his actions. It was his hatred of the secular ideology of Gandhi, the true Hindu spirit, that he is finally opposed to, having been brainwashed thoroughly by the RSS.
The fact is that there is no action and no teaching of Gandhi that is exceptionable and this is why his global reputation as a politician has survived the decades intact.
Writing on Gandhi in 1949, George Orwell said: "One may feel, as I do, a sort of aesthetic distaste for Gandhi, one may reject the claims of sainthood made on his behalf (he never made any such claim himself, by the way), one may also reject sainthood as an ideal and therefore feel that Gandhi's basic aims were anti–human and reactionary: but regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!"
Last year the government of Uttar Pradesh State, which is led by a firebrand Hindu monk, Yogi Adityanath, proposed changing the name of Meerut to Godse City. One of the first Godse statues was unveiled there about three years ago. Officials now say they have been overwhelmed by demands for more Godse memorials.
Ramachandra Guha, a pre-eminent biographer of Gandhi, said that fans of Gandhi’s killer were no longer a fringe group. Instead, he said, Godse admiration has found a place among what he considers a worryingly large segment of the population.
“It is foul, despicable, but it is real and widespread,” Mr. Guha said.
Mr. Godse was born in a small village in central India to an upper-caste family. Three of their older sons died from an unknown illness. Thinking it would protect their new child to treat him as a girl, they pierced the young Mr. Godse’s nose and made him wear a nose ring until they had another son.
For wearing the nose ring, Mr. Godse was called Nathuram, meaning a man with pierced nose.
Justice GD Khosla, who heard the appeal filed by Godse and his co-convicts against the trial court’s verdict in the Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination case, published a book in 1965 recording the events. Justice Khosla said Godse was enraged with Mahatma Gandhi accusing him of compromising the pride of Hindus and India to appease Muslims.
"The decision to strike was taken on January 13, when it was learnt that Mahatma Gandhi had started his fast to put pressure upon the Government of India and compel it to review its former decision to withhold the payment of 55 crores rupees to Pakistan...the conspirators could wait no longer," wrote Justice Khosla.
The plot to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi was well thought out. "He [Godse] held two insurance policies of Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 respectively on his life. On January 13 he nominated [co-conspirator] Apte's wife as the beneficiary under the first policy, and on the following day he similarly assigned the second policy for Rs. 3,000 to his [co-accused] brother's wife," the judge said.
One attempt on Mahatma Gandhi’s life by Godse’s gang had failed 10 days before his assassination on January 30. Judge Khosla, based on the case file, gave a detailed description of the assassination at Delhi’s Birla Mandir where the Mahatma was to attend his evening prayer meeting.
"The prayer meeting had not yet started, but a crowd of about 200 persons was awaiting the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi. Godse was moving among the people apparently unconcerned. Suddenly, there was a stirring in the crowd, and everyone stood up to form a passage for Mahatma Gandhi, who was seen coming up slowly with his hands resting on the shoulders of two girls who were walking by his side. As he raised his hands to join them in the customary greeting, Godse took a quick step forward, pushed aside the girl on Gandhiji's right and, standing in front of him, fired three shots in quick succession at point-blank range."
Godse was thrashed by the crowd before being rescued by a police officer present there. A massive police hunt began to arrest other conspirators. Police completed the investigation in five months following trial began in the Red Fort and heard by judge Atma Charan.
"The court pronounced judgment on February 10, 1949. Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar, a cult figure for the BJP, was among those accused in the conspiracy. He was acquitted for lack of evidence. Nathuram Godse and his friend [Narayan] Apte were sentenced to death. Other five convicts were awarded life sentence."
The convicts filed an appeal in the Punjab High Court. Justice Khosla was part of the three-judge bench that heard their appeals. Godse did not challenge his conviction upon the charge of murder, nor did he question the propriety of the death sentence.
Godse’s appeal was confined to the finding that there was a conspiracy. The high court confirmed death sentence awarded to Godse and Narayan Apte. They were hanged on November 15, 1949 in the Ambala jail.
According to Justice Khosla, Godse "repented of his deed and declared that were he to be given another chance he would spend the rest of his life in the promotion of peace and service of the country".
"The two condemned prisoners were led out of their cells with their hands pinioned behind them. Godse walked in front. His step occasionally faltered. His demeanour and general appearance evidenced a state of nervousness and fear."
"He tried to fight against it and keep up a bold exterior by shouting every few seconds the slogan 'Akhand Bharat' [undivided India]. But his voice had a slight croak in it and the vigour with which he had argued his case at the trial and in the High Court seemed to have been all but expended," observed Justice Khosla.