Gandhi’s killer and his association with the RSS revealed in new book based on archival details

Such an argument would help protect not only Apte and Savarkar, but also Gopal. This line of argument also suited Godse’s self-image – in doing so, he could carry the glory on his own.

In any case, rectification was to be a gigantic exercise, involving a serious examination of questions of law. It is unrealistic to expect Godse, with his limited legal knowledge and fluency in the English language, to handle these matters himself. There is evidence that the statement he would read in court was not entirely of his preparation.

Inamdar later noted that Mehta, a prominent member of the group of lawyers defending the defendant and a staunch Savarkarite, helped him craft a calculated written statement. “In Nathuram’s case, it was mainly Jamnadas Mehta, a Bombay attorney, who helped him prepare the statement,” Inamdar wrote. The weighty 150-paragraph statement took Godse five hours to read in the courtroom.

Speaking quietly in English, he attempted at the very beginning to erase any trace of guilt from Apte, Savarkar and the other accomplices. “I say that there was no conspiracy of any kind between the defendants to commit any of the offenses mentioned in the indictment [sic]’, read Godse. “I can also state here that I did not encourage any of the other defendants in the commission of the offenses alleged.”

While recounting his past life, Godse also claimed that he broke with the RSS long before he killed Gandhi. The claim ran counter to what he had told interrogators and what documents seized at RSS Nagpur headquarters had revealed.

Years later, Gopal, seeing the RSS brazenly abandon Godse, sought to set the record straight. ‘He [Godse] said it because Golwalkar and the RSS had a lot of problems after Gandhi’s murder,” Gopal said. ‘But he [Godse] did not leave the RSS.’

Godse’s statement in court showed his impeccable command of English, a language he did not know well.

In the group of lawyers defending the accused, Inamdar was the odd one out. While the others had been chosen by LB Bhopatkar, who led the team of lawyers, Inamdar had joined them independently. He had been sent by Parchure’s wife of Gwalior as her husband’s counsel. In a way, therefore, Inamdar and Godse shared outlier status in their respective groups.

“During the whole trial, I never saw Savarkar turn his head towards even Nathuram, who used to sit next to him, in fact next to him, let alone talk with him”, noted Inamdar.

“During the various interviews I had with Nathuram, he told me that he was deeply hurt by this – Tatyarao’s calculated and demonstrative non-association with him, whether in court or in the prison of the Fort Rouge during all the days of the Fort Rouge trial. How Nathuram longed for a touch from Tatyarao’s hand, a word of sympathy, or at least a look of compassion in the isolated enclosure of the cells! Nathuram evoked his hurt feelings in this regard even when I last met him at the Simla High Court!

Andrew B. Reiter