Martyrs Day

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MARTYRS DAY

The Nation pays homage to the martyrs who suffered and died for the freedom, welfare, and progress of the country, on January 30 every year.

It was on January 30, 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated a little before the sunset when he was going to attend his evening prayers.

Gandhiji was the greatest among the lakhs and lakhs of martyrs and freedom fighters who sacrificed everything for the country’s Independence, welfare andprogress.

Since Gandhiji’s martyrdom on January 30, 1948 this day was declared as the Martyrs’ Day. Since then every year the Nation pays homage to the Mahatma and other martyrs on this day.

On Martyr’s Day, the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, and the three service Chiefs gather at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and lay wreaths on the Samadhi decorated with multi-colour flowers. The armed forces personnel blow the bugles sounding the Last Post. The inter-services contingent reverse arms as a mark of respect to the martyrs.

A two-minutes silence in memory of the Father of the Nation and other martyrs is observed throughout the country at 11 a.m.

At Rajghat, in front of the Samadhi of Gandhiji, all-religion prayers are held and bhajans dear to him sung.

January 30, 1948 is the saddest and most poignant day in our history. For on this day, 78-year old Mahatma Gandhi was killed in Birla House (now known as Gandhi Smriti) when he was going to join his evening prayers.

This was the biggest tragedy that the Nation faced after we achieved our hard-won Independence under the leadership of Gandhiji. I was a few yards away when this tragedy occurred. Like other days, I was slowly walking behind the Mahatma towards the prayer ground. I saw a well-built, tall young man, clad in khaki, rushing from the peaceful crowd of men, women and children, who came to attend the prayers, towards Gandhiji. Gandhiji was then ascending the steps to the prayer ground. The restless young man tried to touch Gandhiji’s feet. Gandhiji’s grand daughters, Manu and Ava, told him that Gandhiji did not like people touching his feet. They both tried to stop the man and told him not to delay the Mahatma who was already late for the prayers. But the man pushed them aside and the prayer books and other things which they were carrying fell on the ground.

The young man, who had a pistol, suddenly fired three shots from close range at Gandhiji. The Mahatma fell on the ground, his white khadi dress soaked in blood. A man of prayer, Gandhiji remembered God and said, "Hey Ram : Hey Ram." It was 5.17 p.m.

Men, women and children, who came to join the prayers, were shocked and wept aloud to see the Father of the Nation being killed in front of their eyes.

A bleeding Gandhiji was rushed to the room where he was staying. The news of his assassination spread like a fire. Despite one of the coldest nights in India’s capital, thousands of people crowded in front of Birla House and wanted to have Gandhiji’s darshan.

Inside the room there were tragic scenes. Pandit Nehru, our first Prime Minister, wept like a child. Sardar Patel was seen consoling him.

Doctors rushed into the room. They examined Gandhiji. They remained dumb. Slowly, they signified that the Mahatma was dead.

This was my worst and saddest reporting of the Mahatma after about four years’ tour as the United Press of India correspondent with him in various parts of the country. I wept but I had to do my duty. After flashing the news to my office, I rushed to the room where Gandhiji’s body was lying. Recitations from the Gita and other scriptures were going on.

I remained whole night in that room. Lights in the room were switched off. An oil lamp was lit. There was darkness everywhere. Sitting in the room, I wrote an article titled "That Darkest Night" which was well published.

Outside the room, there was a huge waiting...
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