January 30 is observed as the Martyrs’ Day every year across the country to mark the death anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu. Martyrs’ Day or ‘Shaheed Diwas’ also aims at paying respect to the freedom fighters who gave up their lives in the fight for India’s independence. This year, the Central government has directed all state governments and union ministries to observe two minutes silence on January 30 in the memory of martyred freedom fighters.
Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as Father of the Nation, was the torch-bearer of India’s struggle for freedom and was revered by everyone for his non-violent approach against the British Raj. Despite his peaceful methods, on this day in 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the compound of Birla House after one of his routine multi-faith prayer meetings. Godse, a member of Hindu Mahasabha, blamed Gandhi for favouring the Muslim community during the partition of India in 1947. He shot Gandhi thrice in the chest and abdomen. It is said that the last words Gandhi uttered were “Hey Ram”. Gandhi died at the spot, some five months after Indian gained independence from the British. Ever since then, India observes that day as Shaheed Diwas to mourn the loss of its greatest freedom fighter.
Every year on Martyr’s Day, the president, the vice president, the prime minister, the defence minister and the three Service Chiefs (Army, Air Force and Navy) lay wreaths made of multi-colour flowers at his Samadhi at Raj Ghat in Delhi. The personnel of armed forces blow bugles sounding the Last Post and the inter-services contingent reverse arms to pay their respect. A two-minute silence is observed nationwide at 11 AM to remember the martyrs who laid down their lives for the country. There is also a tradition of holding all-religion prayers and singing tributes for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.