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Lone surviving witness to Mahatma’s killing says country needs humble leaders like Gandhi

Till 1981, Madan served as the Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. He now lives with his son and hardly moves out due to old age.

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New Delhi, Oct 1 : As India readies itself to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Wednesday, K.D. Madan (96), probably the last living witness of Gandhi’s last moments, paid an emotional tribute to the great leader.

A programme officer with the All India Radio (1944-1948), Madan was recording Gandhi’s post prayer speeches delivered every evening at New Delhi’s Birla House, the place where Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse on January 30, 1948.

“On Wednesday, the world will celebrate Gandhiji’s (150th) birth anniversary. So on this occasion, I will not speak about that man (Godse), whom I saw committing the most awful sin on earth. But yes, when I am nearing 100 (years), I would assert that a man like Gandhiji comes into existence once in many centuries,” Madan, who lives in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar, told IANS.

Recording Gandhi for months, Madan had observed the Mahatma closely.

“No doubt he was a towering personality, but during interactions, he was so gentle and courteous that I never felt that I was talking to such a big leader. I am close to 100 now, but I’m yet to see a leader as humble as him.

“Unme ahankar bilkul nahi tha… Bilkul bhi nahi. Yeh baat aaj ke daur ke logon ko samajhni hogi (He did not have any ego, not at all. The present generation should understand this remarkable quality),” Madan ostensibly suggested to the present day leaders.

After Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, Madan, one of the key eye witnesses of the gruesome crime, left All India Radio and joined the civil services.

Presently, he is the only surviving person out of the distinguished gathering, which used to assemble daily at Birla House to listen to Gandhi.

“Lady Mountbatten, (Jawaharlal) Nehruji, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Amrit Kaur, Rajendra Prasad and many more were frequent visitors to the Birla House. But I was the only one who had an important duty to perform. Every evening I recorded Gandhiji and connected him with rest of the country at 8.30 p.m. by broadcasting his post prayer speeches,” he said, adding, “Many journalists also arrived there daily to cover Gandhiji’s speeches. Some of the names I do not remember now.”

Though Madan was initially reluctant to speak about the fateful evening of January 30, 1948, he later recollected the incident.

“I reached Birla House (on January 30, 1948) at around 4.30 p.m. I was arranging my equipment when I saw Sardar Patel going inside the Birla House to meet Gandhiji. Patel stayed for some time and then left. After a short while, Lady Mountbatten and Lord Mountabatten arrived to meet Gandhiji. The meeting got delayed as Gandhiji did not arrive, may be till 5.15 p.m. I was in the lawn where Gandhiji used to first recite the prayers followed by his speech. And then we all know what happened…,” said Madan, who some how seemed unwilling to narrate the sequence of events which led to the Mahatma’s assassination.

On being asked if he was the key eyewitness in the case, Madan said the police had initially summoned him. “However, later I was told by the police that my testimony was not required as the accused had confessed to his guilt. So finally I did not turn up at the court,” recalled Madan, saying that he did not wish to speak more on the assassination.

Remembering a conversation with the great man at Birla House, the former radio engineer-turned-civil servant said that once Gandhiji told him that he would visit the All India Radio studio. Accordingly, a date was fixed for his visit. However, on the given date, Gandhi had an outstation engagement.

“A day before the event, Gandhiji called me in Birla House and very politely told me that he felt sorry for not being able to visit the AIR studios because of a sudden change in his schedule. He was so apologetic, so humble in his words that I was touched by his gesture. As a human being, that was his quality which you won’t find anywhere else,” Madan quipped.

Till 1981, Madan served as the Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. He now lives with his son and hardly moves out due to old age.

Senior journalist Vivek Shukla, a keen writer on Gandhi’s life, said that till a few years back, veteran columnist Dev Dutt and Madan were the only surviving eye witnesses to Gandhi’s assassination.

“Dev Dutt, who lived in south Delhi’s Saket area, is no more now. Most probably Madan is now the lone surviving person who was with Gandhi during his last moments and was witness to the gruesome killing at the Birla House,” Shukla said.

India

Farmers at Delhi-Ghazipur border to intensify stir if demands not met

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

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Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Farmers protesting at Delhi-Ghazipur border against the three contentious agricultural laws on Friday warned that they will amplify the protest by blocking more roads and choking supply of food products to the national capital if another round of discussion between them and the central government fails to yield results on Saturday.

On Thursday, the fourth round of talks between the Union government and farmers’ representatives at Vigyan Bhawan did not reach any conclusion, but the government has softened its stance on some demands of the farmers. Farmers have, however, refused to stop protests till the three farm laws are repealed. Another round of discussion is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson of Bharat Kisan Union, which is spearheading the protest at the border point, told IANS, “Farmers want the government to take back the laws and make a fresh draft. Currently, it is for the corporates. The law should be for the farmers and they must be consulted. Either the government will agree to our requests tomorrow or we will keep protesting. More farmers are ready to come here.”

Another senior member of the union, on condition of anonymity, said that if the demands are not met, farmers will stay put to even witness the January 26 parade and run their tractors on the roads of the national capital.

President of Tarai Kisan Sangathan Tejinder Singh Virk said resonated the same sentiment, “If the government does not accept our demands tomorrow, we will choke the supply of milk, vegetables and fruits going to the national capital. Blocking the roads was a mere first step. We will decide on the next step tomorrow.”

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last nine days at the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP Ghazipur border and the Delhi-UP Chilla border.

The agitated farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by the Parliament earlier this year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

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Health

India will start vaccination only after expert nod: PM seeks suggestions

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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Vaccine Covid

New Delhi : Addressing an all-party meeting on Covid vaccines delivery and distribution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that state governments’ advise will be sought on the matter as to who all will get the inoculation first, and urged political leaders to write in their suggestions.

“Experts believe that the vaccines will be ready in few weeks, and Indian scientist are very confident of developing them,” Modi said.

Public health will be top priority for the government as pricing of the vaccines are concerned, he said adding that the vaccination process will start only after the experts give nod.

Government has suggested first vaccination for frontline Covid warriors and health workers to get vaccinated first.

The all-party meeting was called for suggestions for feedback on the progress made so far and was attended by all political parties in Parliament.

The Prime Minister had earlier interacted with team of developers and visited three cities on Saturday to conduct an extensive review of the vaccine development and manufacturing process, going to the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, the Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India in Pune.

With 36,595 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, India’s overall tally increased to 95,71,559 on Friday, as 540 more fatalities took the Covid-19 toll to 1,39,188, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

India witnessed a 3% rise in fresh cases and 2.7 rise in deaths since Thursday.

Currently, there are 4,16,082 active cases, whereas 90,16,289 patients have been discharged so far, including 42,916 discharged in the past 24 hours.

The recovery rate stands at 94.2 per cent and fatality at 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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India

Indian Navy day: Focus on safeguarding sea lanes to boost trade

Stressing jointness, he said that The Navy’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles had been deployed in the Ladakh sector bordering China following requests from the Army and Air Force.

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Indian Navy day

New Delhi: The Indian Navy will play a key role in Indias drive to become a $5-trillion economy, with a fleet of three aircraft carriers, submarines, aircraft and drones to ensure that sea lanes for trade are always secure.

Speaking ahead of Navy day on Friday, Navy Chief Karambir Singh made a strong pitch during a press conference for a third aircraft carrier to secure trade and commerce in the Indo-Pacific region.

“If you want to be a $5-trillion economy… you will have to go outwards. The Navy does not want to be tethered to the shore. For that, aircraft carriers are absolutely essential,” Admiral Singh observed, pointing out that without exercising carrier-based sea control, a rising India’s trade lifelines cannot be safeguarded.

The navy chief noted that China’s assertiveness had “significantly increased the complexities in the security situation”, but Beijing’s forays in the Indian Ocean so far had not disturbed the naval balance of power in these waters. He pointed out that Chinese fishing and research vessels were operating in the Indian Ocean, but none of them has violated India’s maritime boundaries. Only three warships of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have been present in the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean region for anti-piracy operations since 2008.

However, analysts point out that the navy’s responsibilities were likely to surge in the coming days, as military tensions between India and China rise. Analysts point out that the navy can leverage its dominance over the 10 degree and six-degree channels in the Andaman sea, which is used by Chinese commercial ships for trade. India’s growing relationship with the Indo-Pacific Quad, comprising India, the United States, Australia and Japan can be a factor in beefing up the Navy’s heft along these channels at the gates of the Malacca straits-the point of entry for international shipping, including that of China, into the South China Sea and the broader Pacific Ocean.

The navy chief also stressed that the force was engaged in bolstering its aviation arm, with an eye of using its assets, wherever possible, with its sister services.

Stressing jointness, he said that The Navy’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles had been deployed in the Ladakh sector bordering China following requests from the Army and Air Force.

“Air operations are integral to naval operations. Air power at sea is required here and now. The Navy is all about reach and sustenance,”Singh said. He pointed out that the Navy is working with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to build a multi-role carrier-based combat jet to replace the existing fleer of MiG-29 K.

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