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Mystery of Gandhi's assassination: Who owned the Italian pistol that was used to kill Gandhi?

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GWALIOR/DELHI: Seventy years after Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, the mystery surrounding the ownership of the pistol that was used to murder him, remains unsolved because the investigators had failed to reached any conclusion.

The Italian pistol and its Gwalior link have found mention in several books and has been a subject of countless discussions. Though it is known that the pistol had changed many hands before it reached Jagdish Prasad Goel who gave it to Gangadhar Dandvate.

The latter handed it to Nathuram Godse. However, to whom he belonged, is a question, nobody wants to talk about, not even those who are perhaps well-aware of it. Nine persons were accused of the conspiracy to kill Gandhi and two of them were hanged, while others were jailed or freed. 

In the charge-sheet, it was mentioned that Godse had reached Gwalior by train and obtained the Beretta M1934 semi-automatic pistol with the help of Gwalior residents Dr Dattatraya Parchure, Gangdhar Dandvate, Gangadhar Jadhao and Suryadeo Sharma.

Dr Parchure was picked up by police later and was let off. No one investigated the trail of the weapon used in the murder. Even those who were charged of the murder conspiracy and later freed, refused to speak about it.

In a conversation with TOI, Dandvate's son said that it is a secret and revealing it could cause a political turmoil and he didn't want any more trouble at this age. In his famous book on Gandhi's assassination, Manohar Malgaonkar writes that the pistol travelled across the world--from Ethiopia (Abyssinia) by one officer of Mussolini to Gwalior infantry (Gwalior princely state). 

But any idea about the person who owned it in Gwalior and gave it to the killers' gang? The links of killer gang with a religious seat in Eastern UP that helped facilitate the operation, were also left unprobed. In his statement, Godse had refused to blame anyone. 

Also, JL Kapur Commission of inquiry into the Gandhi murder conspiracy, said that the trail of ownership of the firearm was not traced. The Home ministry had its share of blame as it had failed to prevent the attack on Gandhi despite previous bids.

There was a strong right-wing nucleus in Congress and exposure of the lapses of those at the helm and their relationship with prominent members including certain erstwhile rulers apart from their favourable disposition towards Hindu rightists, would have caused huge embarassment for the Centre.

Hence, the Gwalior-Gorakhpur connection was never investigated, surprisingly, despite the fact that it led to the assassination of the man who is called Father of the Nation! Lot of information remained available but unfortunately there is no conclusive evidence as governments dithered in the probe and even today the mystery remains.

Godse turns into God: Temple built in Gwalior, prayer rituals begin 

Even in pre-partition days, Gwalior had a strong RSS-Hindu Mahasabha cadre. There was violence and exodus of Muslims from the princely state of Gwalior along with Alwar and Bharatpur., these states particularly had strong base of right-wing groups in the era too.

Gwalior was a princely state and the most influential personalities in the state had known right-wing leanings. In Alwar too, ruler of the state at that point of time, was close to Hindu hardliners. Godse was hanged on the premises of Ambala jail on November 15, 1949. Since then, there has been complete silence and no investigation ever brought to fore who was behind handing over the gun. Clearly, it was a very powerful man who couldn't be named.

Incidentally, Gwalior is the same city where there was an attempt to build Nathuram Godse's temple recently. However, after the idol was installed and the prayer rituals began, the government was forced to take action and the statue was removed.