India celebrates Martyrs Day (Shaheed Divas) every year on January 30 and March 23 to pay homage to those who fought for the country’s freedom, welfare and progress. On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a rabid fanatic.
On January 28, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi had said, “If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. God must be in my heart and on my lips. And if anything happens, you are not to shed a single tear.”
On the day of Mahatma’s murder, he walked up to a prayer mandap. At that time, a man came before Gandhiji. The man offered pranam by bending his body at a distance of less than two yards. Gandhiji returned the salute. The man remarked, “You are late today for the prayer.” Gandhiji smiled and replied, “Yes, I am.”
But at that moment the man pulled out a revolver and fired three shots from point-blank range. The bullets pierced the frail body of the great leader just below the heart and stomach. Gandhiji collapsed. The assassin was seized by the people who had come to attend the prayer.
Past progress from primitive society to feudalism to police state capitalism to modern welfare states confirms that ours is an ascending evolution. But there is no question of resting on our laurels. Even on this year’s Mahatma’s death anniversary, some rabid fanatics observed it in Aligarh by shooting at the effigy of the Father of the Nation with a toy pistol and by garlanding the picture of his assassin and circulated the video clip.
We still have miles to go.