There’s much commotion these days of books being banned and such. While this is not a book in the true sense of the word (it is a statement by Nathuram Godse, given in court as he stood accused of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi), it is perhaps one of the earliest documents that was banned by the government, from being published. (The ban was lifted in 1968).
It has been converted to a book form by his younger brother, who was also imprisoned as a co-conspirator for abetment and was imprisoned for life (released in 1964 after serving 16 years). While the statement of Nathuram Godse is the meat of the book — 102 of the 208 pages — Why I Assassinated Gandhi? has now been released with context, by his brother, Gopal Godse.
Like most medium-sized Indian publications, the book suffers heavily from a lack of editorial and design intervention. All the more unfortunate for this specific and critical episode in our history. Needless to say, the controversial nature of the content, even after six decades, is perhaps the reason no major publisher in India will ever seek to acquire such a title. It, then, automatically falls to the small-and-medium sized publishers.I’d like to congratulate Farsight Publishers for that.
Irrespective of your own beliefs of the role, contribution, and the impact of various leaders in the Indian Freedom Struggle, this book is worth a read. That this man assassinated the most popular figure in the history of Indian independence cannot be a reason not to read the book; in fact it is the reason, why this book needs to be read. The statement by Nathuram Godse is an articulate statement of his reason. And this being a court record, there is little scope for a fiction-creep, and perhaps, therefore, less easy to dismiss as fiction.
It matters less whether your reasons are right or wrong, and which prism they are viewed from. It matters more how convinced you are in your purpose and how well you can rationally defend and articulate that purpose. Nathuram Godse did that with great skill and art.
For that one reason, at least, this is a definite read.