Hated Sikh Gurus, Muslims and Hindus
70 years agoMahatma Gandhi is assassinated
"I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of peace."
He described himself as a soldier for peace. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, whom his followers called Mahatma, the great soul, never raised his hand against his enemies. All his life, according to the Asian scholar Melitta Waligora from Berlin's Humboldt University, the charismatic preacher fought with non-violent resistance against the British colonial power for a free India.
"Of course Gandhi was still a symbolic figure and also mobilized the masses, who were not militant. And that is also the tragedy of the death of Gandhi, that of all people, who was striving for a unified India by peaceful means, now in this way came to death. "
On January 30, 1948, 78-year-old Gandhi had gathered in Delhi for a public prayer when he was shot by a fanatical Hindu.
"Nathuram Vinayak Godse. He bowed to Gandhi and then shot. He didn't hide, didn't run away, he had himself arrested, he wanted this act to be seen as a beacon, a signal. He chalked Gandhi that he was ready to give the Muslims, who were quite a few, a place in India. "
Many Muslims among his followers
Although Gandhi was a devout Hindu himself, there were many Muslims among his followers. When, in the run-up to Indian independence, there were repeated bloody unrest between the followers of both religions because the Hindus discriminated against Muslims as unclean, Gandhi fought for an end to the violence with sermons and hunger strikes. He even suggested that the Muslim League should take over the lead in an undivided India.
"The message of peace is that we remain true to our own identity and not copy the methods of the West, their guns and atomic bombs. We must search for love and truth together."
But the last viceroy of India, Louis Mountbatton, came to the conclusion in 1947 that the subcontinent had to be divided: into a Hindu India under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, a fellow ally of Gandhi, and a Muslim state, which was to be called Pakistan, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah the top, the President of the Muslim League. The Hindu Congress Party did not want to submit to a Muslim president and eventually agreed to partition. Nehru became India's first prime minister.
"Many years ago we had a rendezvous with fate. And now the time has come to keep our vows. At midnight, when the world is asleep, India wakes up to life and freedom."
Massacre, displacement, mass exodus
The British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe had previously been commissioned to determine the border between India and Pakistan. The result was presented to both states on Independence Day. India received the provinces with a Hindu majority, Pakistan those with a predominantly Muslim population. The division was particularly dramatic in the northern province of Punjab, through which Radcliffe had drawn the border because he could not find a religious majority.
"Radcliffe, he had maps. He drew a border line, which then went partly through the farms, through the houses, through the villages. That the farmer suddenly had his field in another state or his house. Or the market place or the marriage relationship really was a culture rupture. "
There were massacres in village communities that had previously lived together peacefully, as well as displacement and mass exodus. At least 200,000 people lost their lives. About five million Hindus and Sikhs fled to India and about the same number of Muslims to Pakistan.
Gandhi's utopia of peaceful coexistence between all Indians was shattered. His murderer Nathuram Godse, who had called him a traitor to the Hindus during the trial, was sentenced to death and executed in 1949.
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