Report from British officials in India after assassination of Gandhi in 1948

Report from British officials in India after the assassination of Gandhi in 1948

Source 8a


I have the honour to address you regarding the main events of the last few months of Mahatma Gandhi’s life and the tragedy of his assassination. It was a strange coincidence that a fortnight after the transfer of power he took up his residence in New Delhi in Birla House exactly opposite the Office of this High Commission. Here he remained until he met his tragic death of January 30th.

2. During these months Birla House became the focal point of political activity for all India. Day after day, the most important personages in the Dominion of India, as well as its most distinguished visitors came to see the Mahatma here. Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel, when they were not away from Delhi, were almost daily visitors. Next to these was Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Indian Christian Minister of Health, and one of his closest disciples, as well as Maulana Kalam Azad, the Nationalist Muslim Minister of Education. Jai Prakash Nerain and other Socialist leaders were also frequent visitors. Provincial Governors and Prime Ministers too always called on him when they visited Delhi and meetings of the All-India Congress Committee or the Party’s Executive Committee were invariably held in Birla House. While Mr. Arthur Henderson, His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Air, was one of the last visitors from abroad to pay the Mahatma his respects.

Source 8b

3. Day after day, too, people of all communities rich and poor came to visit him for guidance, assistance or consolation. Many of these were Sikh and Hindu refugees from Pakistan who had suffered personal bereavements and the loss of their homes and who were not only embittered by their experiences but impatient also at the lack of assistance they considered they were receiving from the Indian Government. Day in and day out, too, Muslims of all classes of society, many of whom had also suffered personal bereavements in the recent disturbances, came to invoke his help. Normally too fearful even to leave their homes, they came to him because they had learned and believed that he had their interests at heart and was the only real force in the Indian Union capable of preserving them from destruction. Little groups of them often belonging to the humblest classes of society, and including women, were frequently to be seen waiting outside the gates of Birla House until the Mahatma had time, as he always did, to listen to their requests. ……

Source 8c

4. It would be a mistaken impression, however, to suppose that Gandhi devoted these last months of his life exclusively to social and humanitarian tasks. Through this constant stream of visitors he was able to keep in remarkably close touch with Indian opinion and continued to play a most important role as the principal adviser of the Indian Government on all major political issues. Scarcely any important decision was taken without his prior advice whether the subject was the movement and rehabilitation of refugees, Congress policy or the Kashmir issue. And when he disagreed with any decision taken it was not long, as in the recent case of the non-implementation of the Indo-Pakistan financial agreement, before he took determined and successful steps to have it revoked.

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