The day Gandhi died my father spent a sleepless night worrying not about the future of India but about the identity of the assassin. His great fear was that he would turn out to be a fellow Bengali, a province which had been cruelly divided between India and Pakistan and where Gandhi’s attempts to bring peace between Hindus and Muslims had been seen as a great betrayal of the Hindus. Ironically when Godse – the assassin – turned out to be a Maharastrian from western India (the part of India we lived in), my father found that for some people Godse was something of a hero, or at least not irredeemably criminal.
This was brought home to many Indians when some years ago two enterprising western authors, Dominic LaPierre and Larry Collins, set out to write a popular history of Indian independence. They interviewed one of Godse’s accomplices and actually recreated the assassination. In true Indian fashion a large crowd gathered and