India observes Martyrs' Day today: All you need to know
Martyrs' Day is observed every year on January 30 to mark the death anniversary of the father of the nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse at one of his prayer meets. Godse, a nationalist, killed Gandhi by shooting at him three times from a close range.
Gandhi was conferred the title of 'Mahatma' posthumously around 1915. While some claim Rabindranath Tagore used this title for him, others say residents of Gurukul Kangri first called him by the name. The Sanskrit word Mahatma means a great soul.
Here is all you need to know about Gandhi and Martyrs' Day:
- Gandhi was a lawyer in South Africa before an incident of racism that he faced made him shift back to India and become a social activist and a politician. He is remembered for his contribution to India's struggle for freedom from the British and his policy of truth and non-violence.
- He spearheaded the civil disobedience movement against the British. The Salt Satyagraha was a big part of the movement as part of which Gandhi led a large group of people from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a coastal village in Gujarat, to produce salt from seawater. It was a protest against the salt tax imposed by the British government in India.
- Hindu fundamentalists accused Gandhi of being the reason for India's partition. In Godse's statement following his death sentence on November 8, 1949, he said that he was unhappy about Gandhi’s support for the Muslim community and blamed him for the partition of India and formation of Pakistan.
- “I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus,” Godse said. “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,” he added.
- Godse and co-conspirator Narayan Apte were hanged for the murder of the father of the nation on November 15, 1949.