Eyewitness to Mahatma's assassination recalls the fateful day | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Eyewitness to Mahatma's assassination recalls the fateful day

"Just as he climbed the raised lawn to reach his seat for the prayer, a gunshot was heard. I was checking my equipment but barely seconds later when another shot pierced the air, I knew by instinct what had happened.

delhi Updated: Nov 10, 2010 23:32 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

"Just as he climbed the raised lawn to reach his seat for the prayer, a gunshot was heard. I was checking my equipment but barely seconds later when another shot pierced the air, I knew by instinct what had happened.

"As I turned my eyes, I saw the man pull the trigger for the third time … in a moment Gandhiji fell," said KD Madan as he recounted the events on the fateful evening of January 30, 1948, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

On Wednesday morning at the same spot at the Birla House — now called Gandhi Smriti —Madan showed the place where he sat with his equipment — barely 3-4 feet behind Mahatama Gandhi's seat, the spot where the assassin stood as he pumped bullets into Gandhi and also the way his body was taken by a hefty man with a white beard ("It is still a mystery who he was") to a room.

Madan was just 24 years old then and was a programme officer with the All India Radio (AIR).

AIR had decided to record Gandhi's post-prayer speeches and broadcast it at 8:30 pm and hence Madan went there daily from September 19, 1947 till Gandhi's death.

Soon the lawns were empty even as a large crowd surged around the room where Gandhi's body was kept and even on the road outside the main gate.

"As I gathered my equipment, I saw somebody had put up twigs in circle around the spot his body fell and even lit a candle," the octogenarian, who joined the civil services after October 1948, told a gathering at the Gandhi Smriti.

Although AIR used to send Gandhi's post-prayer speech 'live' on telephone lines to its recording room 3km away, the news of Gandhi's death was not broadcast immediately.

Governor General Lord Mountbatten rushed in first, followed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

"Sometime later, Nehru told the swelling crowd at the gate as he wept unabashedly ‘The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere'."

"It was only then did the AIR announce the news to the world at around 5:50 pm. The BBC had announced it at 5:35 pm itself," he added.

Another witness to the assassination Dev Dutt, a writer, thinker and a journalist, said, "I was here when Gandhiji was shot dead and went to my village the next day. I noticed one thing that people grieved as if they had lost a family member."