When the British finally left on 14th August, 1947 people in Delhi were full of joy and celebrations, crowds were shouting “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai” but Mahatma was nowhere to be seen. He was not part of celebrations in Delhi. He was in Calcutta.
He marked the day with 24 hour fast, for, the hard fought freedom struggle came at an acceptable price of Partition. There was violence on both sides of India. Hindus and Muslims were rioting over abruptly and inconsistently imposed partition on us.
The Mahatma couldn’t be a silent witness to violence. He was 77 year old, yet walked barefoot in the tough terrain of violence calming the rioting crowds, what thousands of soldiers couldn’t do, he did with the power of his love and empathy. After he left the place, the fraternisation between Hindus and Muslims was on display for everyone to see. As a consequence Calcutta was free of communal virus.
He said he could handle Punjab too after Calcutta.
He stopped by Delhi, went around hospitals and refugee camps, appealed Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Delhi to forget the past and not dwell on their sufferings. He begged of them all to bring about Peace quickly in Delhi so that he go to Punjab (East and west) where he wanted the Muslims to undo the wrongs they perpetrated against Hindus, but he couldn’t do it untill he could secure justice to Muslims in Delhi.
He began fasting on the 13th January, 1948 and said he didn’t accept the “two-nation theory” and urged the people of ‘Eternal city’ of Delhi that Hindus and Muslims to live in peace and brotherhood.
Gandhiji’s kidney was failing, he was suffering from continuous nausea and headache, doctors warned authorities.
Then Congress, RSS, Ulema and Sikh bodies all of them came together and took a pledge that they will protect life, faith and property of Muslims, and incidents that happened in Delhi would not happen again.
Gandhi got convinced and was to go to Punjab, he wanted to unite the geographically and politically divided India by an artificial partition..
But Alas! The unimaginable happened on this very date, 30th Jan, 69 years ago, it was not his fragile health that took his life, Mahatma was shot, by a young man filled with hatred. And no one after him could ever even think of uniting the country like he did and we remain divided inside and outside.
Whenever I think of this, my eyes fill with grief. Can’t imagine how India grieved that day.
Not just India, there were moving tributes from Albert Einstein, George Orwell, George Bernard Shaw.
G.B Shaw then had said, “It shows you how dangerous it is to be good.”
We celebrate the “victory of good over Evil” through so many festivals in India, but this day, the 30th January is the day Evil won over Good, hatred over love, communalism over fraternity..