Gandhi Murder Conspirator Gopal Godse Dies

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Gopal Vinayak Godse, the last surviving conspirator in the assassination of the Indian independence leader and pacifist icon Mohandas Gandhi, has died. He was 86.

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 by The Associated Press.

Godse was part of the group that attacked Gandhi as the frail 78-year-old walked toward the prayer ground in the garden of a New Delhi home on Jan. 30, 1948. Godse's brother Nathuram stepped in front of Gandhi and fired three shots.

Nathuram Godse and another man were hanged for Gandhi's slaying, while Gopal Godse served 16 years in prison.

Gopal Godse remained unrepentant for his role in the killing of Ghandi, who fought for equality in a nation sharply divided by caste and became one of the most revered men in modern history.

But Godse and his small band of Hindu extremists believed Gandhi turned his back on Hindus, allowing British India to be divided in 1947 into India and Pakistan following independence. They also thought Gandhi's calls for nonviolence were part of a plot to allow Hindus to be slaughtered by Muslims.

"He was a very cruel person for the Hindus," Godse told The Associated Press in 2003.

"We did not want this man to live," Godse said in the interview. "We did not want this man to die a natural death, even if 10 lives were to be lost for that purpose."

After his release from prison, Godse largely lived off royalties from books he wrote on Gandhi and the assassination.