Assassination Attempt on Mahatma Gandhi - [January 20, 1948] This Day in History

20 January 1948

Assassination attempt on Mahatma Gandhi.


What happened?

On 20 January 1948, an assassination attempt was made on Mahatma Gandhi at Birla House in Delhi where he was staying. No one was hurt during this attempt. Read more about this incident for the IAS exam

Background

  • In 1948, the country was tense with communal riots and massacres in the wake of the partition.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was visiting different riot-affected areas and trying to infuse peace among the people.
  • Gandhi had arrived in Delhi from Calcutta in September 1947. He was staying in Birla House from where he saw various people including journalists. He also conducted prayer meetings from there. (Birla House is today a museum and named Gandhi Smriti.)
  • On 20 January, Madan Lal Pahwa, along with Nathuram Godse and others arrived at the Birla House to carry out the assassination. The plan was to throw the bomb and assassinate Gandhi during the ensuing panic and stampede. But, they did not carry out the whole plan and aborted it because of the intervention of a gatekeeper who had become suspicious of the group.
  • Pahwa threw the bomb in the premises of Birla House. Nobody was hurt and Gandhi was only about 25 yards from the spot where the bomb went off.
  • Pahwa was arrested from the complex and convicted for the crime.
  • Gandhi himself remained unperturbed by the attempt and assured everyone that nothing had happened. He continued with his prayer meeting.
  • The assailant Pahwa was a refugee from Pakistani Punjab and had witnessed brutal massacre during the partition and the mass movements of people that had taken place.
  • Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse ten days later, on 30 January in the same premises by a pistol.
Also on this day

1871: Birth of financier and philanthropist Sir Ratanji Jamshedji Tata. 1949: Death of Tej Bahadur Sapru, Liberal Party leader and lawyer. 1972: Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya given statehood. 1988: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’ passed away.

 

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

 

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