'I saw Nathuram Godse pull out a gun and fire at Mahatma Gandhi'
In a discussion with mid-day, 86-year-old Mumbai resident Sarla Mehta, granddaughter of Dr Pranjivan Mehta-- close friend and benefactor of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi -- recounts Gandhi's assasination
Andheri resident Sarla Mehta, granddaughter of Dr Pranjivan Mehta -- a close friend and benefactor of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, is one of the few people alive who witnessed the assassination of Gandhi at very close range.
Sarla (86) recounts the events that transpired in Birla House on January 30 1948, when Naturam Godse shot dead Mahatma Gandhi.
"I remember everything clearly, I was with Bapu, accompanying him to the daily prayer session. We were running late for the meet as Bapu spent some time with Sardar Patel, who came to meet him. As we reached the garden, Nathuram Godse appeared and greeted Bapu."
Sarla Mehta (circled) paying her last respect to Bapu.
"Godse touched Bapu's feet, took out a gun and shot him thrice. We held Bapu as he fell and rushed him to Birla House. Bapu was declared dead a few minutes later," says Sarla.
We were stunned by what had happened. "I can never forget that fateful day, " Sarla recounts.
Sarla Mehta (circled) going for the prayer with Mahatma Gandhi
"My family's acquaintance with Gandhi goes back a long way" says Sarla. She still as many as 30 letters written by Mahatma Gandhi to her and her family.
She claims that Mahatma Gandhi performed her mother's 'kanyadan', a ritual in Hindu weddings where the bride's father or father-like figure entrusts the daughter to the husband's family. Her grandfather Dr Pranjivan Mehta had helped Gandhi financially and Gandhi has mentioned his name in many of his writings, she added.
She ended, "I remained unmarried and carried on Gandhiji's teaching by promoting khadi my entire life." She was also part of Jawaharlal Nehru's Khadi Gramodyog Commission and later took charge of the development of the Khadi Gramodyog Commission in Mumbai.