On the 151st birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a man who devoted himself to the dharma of non-violence and love, ghosts of past hate refuse to die down.
Even as Indians marked 2nd October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi with tributes and heartfelt messages, trends on Twitter showed that many were still holding a candle for Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Bapu.
On January 30, 1948, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu extremist, and political activist, shot Gandhi three times in the chest at point-blank range.
Vinayak, who was once a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha, was sentenced to death on November 8, 1949, after a year of explosive court hearings. He was hanged on November 15 of the same year.
While Godse's act has been widely criticised by the world, many have time and again cited Godse in a fair light, including BJP MP Pragya Thakur who in 2019 raised hell after referring to the assassin as "deshbhakt".
Even as BJO distanced itself from the comment and Gandhi's birthday was honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who on Friday paid floral tributes Delhi's Rajghat where Gandhi lies interred, Godse trended on social media all day.
Many of the tweets notably came from bot accounts that on other days tweet about "Justice for Sushant", following the death by suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
— Anusha Binny (@anushabinny) October 2, 2020
He wasn't a terrori8, he was an assassin like bhagat singh who fought for cause of India
— Nisha_Young_Jain (@Nisha_Young2809) October 2, 2020
Was disturbed to see 'Godse Zindabad' trending on Twitter on the Birth anniversary of #MahatmaGandhi & when I went to check I found that its none other than the Bots Account created to ask Justice for Sushant Singh Rajput.
Aaj Ke Din Apna DP Toh Change Kar Dete! pic.twitter.com/syhAnYXPrY
— Rais Shaikh (@rais_shk) October 2, 2020
RT for Mahatma Gandhi
— Arnab Goswami (@kattar__hinduu) October 2, 2020
Many took to the microblogging site to call out the trends, even as the 55,000 tweets under the #Godse hashtag and "Nathuram Godse Zindabad". Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, "We know who has enabled this trend & whose face is hypocritically masked. I have no doubt Gandhi's India will prevail over Godse's.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 2, 2020
I wake up on #GandhiJayanti to find Nathuram Godse Zindabad trending on top. A face of New India.
— Saba Naqvi (@_sabanaqvi) October 2, 2020
While the world celebrates Gandhi's birth anniversary, his murderer Nathuram Godse is being celebrated in his own country by ruling party supporters! Gandhi trends at #2, Godse at #1 https://t.co/lxrp21DaxD
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) October 2, 2020
Folks who are trending #नाथूराम_गोडसे_जिंदाबाद;
Godse killed an unarmed old man at point blank range, tried to escape, and was tackled & pinned down by the Garderner of Birla house.
Calling Godse brave is Naive. He was a coward, who did the cowardly act because of his Bigotry.
— Advaid അദ്വൈത് (@Advaidism) October 2, 2020
Gandhi said: Be the change you want to see in the world. Quickly people started trending Nathuram Godse.
— Jyoti Yadav (@jyotiyadaav) October 2, 2020
This is not the first time that Godse's name has been used to attack the legacy of Gandhi in recent times. Earlier in May, A man from Sidhi district, claiming to be a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) - student outfit of the BJP - cloned a Rs 10 currency note replacing Mahatma Gandhi's image with that of Godse.
Before that on November 15, 2019, the death anniversary of Godse, the Hindu Mahasabha in Gwalior observed the 70th ‘Sacrifice Day’ of Nathuram Godse on Friday where the chief guest hailed Godse for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahasabha members reportedly gathered at its office and performed 'aarti' of Godse and Narayan Apte, the co-conspirator who too was hanged for Gandhi's assassination.