"Mahatma Gandhi is dead" read the front page of the Free Press Journal on January 31, 1948. Even as millions across India reeled in shock at the news of his assassination, the publication outlined the stark details of the crime and its aftermath - from the point blank firing of multiple bullets to the riots that had broken out in Bombay after the news broke. In this article we take a look at a historic moment, through the eyes of a publication that had seen the events unfold.
"Mahatma Gandhi is no more. Just ten days after his escape from the bomb which exploded at the prayer ground, a second attampt on the Mahatma's life on Friday at New Delhi. The Mahatma succumbed to his injuries in 35 minutes, and a shocked people heard the awful news dismayed at the irreparable loss. Tributes from all over the world bear testimony to the deep sense of grief that has overtaken India and the nations. Mahatma Gandhi is dead. In the homage paid to him by a sorrowing nation, there is a promise that his voice will still be heard and heeded," the front page says in a block-quote format, followed by a portrait of the Father of the Nation.
There are other details given on the page too. For one thing, we find out that the assailant, Nathuram Godse has been apprehended. And as another front page article reveals, Bombay had not reacted well to the news. After the details came in via radio, "there was wild commotion and some violence" in the city.
On January 31, 1948, India appeared to be in a state of shock. And that tone appears to have seeped into the articles and advertisements that make up the Free Press Journal edition. Even as a short notice on the second page of the paper announced that the Eros Theatre would remain closed in light of the incident, articles narrated eye witness accounts. "The flag will fly at half mast" announced one news headline, even as another column revealed that State mourning would be observed for 13 days.
"The Queen and I are deeply shocked by the news of the death of Mr. Gandhi. Will you please convey to the people of India our sincere sympathy in the irreparable loss which they had had, indeed mankind have suffered," read a message sent by the King to Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten.
Take a look at some excerpts from the paper:
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