The Supreme Court of India has received a fresh petition seeking re-opening of probe into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The petition filed by Dr Pankaj Phadnis, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai has suggested that it could be one of the biggest conspiracies in history. He has raised a number of questions related to the assassination.
One of these questions is if the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during World War II, tried to protect Mahatma Gandhi. According to Phadnis, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, telegrams were sent to Washington from the U.S. Embassy and one of the reports pertaining to it remains classified till date.
He has even put one of the telegrams on record that he had “obtained officially” on his visit to the National Archives and Research Administration, Maryland in the USA in May this year. The “restricted” telegram was sent on January 30, 1948 from US Embassy at 8 pm. The U.S. Disbursing Officer, Herbert Tom Reiner was within a distance of 5 feet of Gandhi at the time he was shot and had apprehended the assassin with the help of Indian guards.
As reported by NDTV, the written submission supporting the petition to the apex court of India that is listed for being heard on October 6 reads:
The said Reiner filed a report on reaching the Embassy later in the evening. However, after 70 years, the said report remains classified. The petitioner (Phadnis himself) has filed an application under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA of USA) for declassification of the said report.
The petitioner has also informed the apex court about his communication with the authorities in the U.S. and has mentioned that the third telegram was sent later on the same evening, apparently after the debriefing of Reiner was marked as “confidential”. Phadnis has told the U.S. authorities that the third telegram is the subject matter of his FOIA request and has not been supplied to him and that he has filed an appeal in this regard.
He has also sought an investigation into whether there was someone else apart from Nathuram Godse involved in the assassination of Gandhi and that he is trying hard to get the U.S. documents declassified to be able to know whether there was a “foreign hand” in the murder. Phadnis has been researching on the issue since 1996 and will be filing an online petition with the White House on October 2 seeking declassification of the third telegram that Reiner sent.
In his petition, he has also raised questions on the “three bullet theory” believed by various courts of law to convict the three accused- Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Godse and Apte were hanged to death on November 15, 1949 whereas Savarkar was given the benefit of doubt owing to lack of evidence.
The petitioner has claimed that in 1966, the Inquiry set up under Justice J.L. Kapur Commission was not able to uncover the entire conspiracy that led to the killing of Gandhi. He has challenged the decision of Bombay High Court dated June 6, 2016, which had dismissed his PIL. Phadnis has asserted that the truth behind the real culprits of Gandhi’s assassination and their aim of derailing the ‘Gandhi-Jinnah People-to-People Contact’ program that Gandhi has planned to launch has been hidden ever since. The program was held up because of Gandhi’s murder, the effects of which are being felt even at present.