Gopal Godse dies aged 86

Gopal Vinayak Godse, the last surviving conspirator in the assassination of Indian independence leader and pacifist icon Mohandas Gandhi, has died at age 86, media reports said.

Godse died at his home in the city of Pune late Saturday, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted his son Nana Godse as saying. No cause of death was given and family members could not immediately be reached.

Godse, whose brother Nathuram shot the pacifist who led India to independence, served 16 years in jail for his involvement in the 1948 killing. Godse remained unrepentant for his role in killing Gandhi, who fought for equality in a nation sharply divided by caste and became one of the most revered men in modern history.

Godse believed Gandhi turned his back on Hindus, allowing British India to be divided in 1947 into today's states of India and Pakistan. In the eyes of Godse and his small band of Hindu extremists, Gandhi's calls for nonviolence were part of a plot to allow Hindus to be slaughtered by Muslims.

Godse was the last surviving member of the group that conspired to attack Gandhi on Jan. 30, 1948. That evening, Gandhi, a frail 78-year-old, was walking toward the prayer ground in the garden of a New Delhi home when Nathuram Godse stepped in front of him and fired three shots. Nathuram Godse and another man were hanged for Gandhi's murder.

After his release from jail Godse lived in Pune, largely living off royalties from books he wrote on Gandhi and the assassination. He is survived by his wife Sindhu Godse, a son and two daughters, AP reports.

A. A.

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