Bhiku Daji Bhilare alias Bhilare Guruji, a veteran freedom fighter and a two-time MLA, credited for thwarting an assassination attempt on Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse in Maharashtra’s Panchgani in 1944, died at 98 at his native village, Bhilar, near Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra.
The 98-year-old veteran freedom fighter and a Gandhian was cremated at his village in Bhilar at Mahabaleswar, family members said. Senior state congress leaders and freedom fighters were present during the cremation. Family members said he died on Wednesday.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi remembering Bhilare Guruji tweeted, “A staunch Gandhian & a freedom fighter, Bhilare Guruji was a selfless custodian of the values we hold dear. Very sad to learn his passing.”
A staunch Gandhian & a freedom fighter, Bhilare Guruji was a selfless custodian of the values we hold dear. Very sad to learn of his passing https://t.co/BmcIYw1LB0— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 19, 2017
The Indian National Congress to remembered the freedom fighter. In it official twitter handle the party tweeted, “Remembering Bhilare Guruji who passed away today. He restrained Nathuram Godse when he attempted to attack Gandhiji at Panchagani in 1944.”
Maharashtra State Congress vice president, Ratnakar Mahajan, remembering the Gandhian said, “Bhilare Guruji throughout his life had engaged himself in social and public services.”
Mahajan told the media that Bhilare Guruji worked as a volunteer for Mahatma Gandhi when he visited Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar. At the year of the incident he was only 25-year-old and was sub-district president of the Rashtra Seva Dal, one of the frontal groups of the Congress.
There is no government record or documented history about Bhilare saving Mahatma Gandhi from Nathuram Godse in 1944.
However, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi, in his new book, Let’s Kill Gandhi, has mentioned the incident. He in his book has mentioned that during a prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse dressed in Nehru shirt, pajama and jacket, brandishing a dagger rushed towards Gandhi.
“Godse was overpowered by Bhilare Guruji and Manishankar Purohit. Two youths accompanying Godse ran away,” the book says.
The book says, “(In) July 1944, after his release from Aga Khan Prison Camp in May 1944, Gandhi contracted malaria and was advised to rest by Physician.”
The book further states, “He retired to Panchgani, a mountain resort near Poona (now Pune), where he stayed at Dilkhush Bunglow. A group of 18 and 20 men reached Panchgani and held a day-long protest against Gandhi.”
“When Gandhi was informed about the demonstration, he contacted the leader of the group, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, for discussion. Nathuram rejected the invitation and continued the protest,” further reads the book.
According to the book Panchgani attack was one out of the four assassination attempts made by fundamentalists to kill Mahatma Gandhi.
In 2008, during an event was organised by Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Mumbai, recalling the wet July 1944 Bhilare Guruji had said, “On July 1944, we all had assembled for evening prayers. When Nathuram Godse opened the door opposite me wielding a knife towards Gandhiji and shouting anti-Gandhi slogans.”
Then he had added, “I and my colleagues in the Rashtra Seva Dal were also quick to react.”