Veteran freedom fighter Bhiku Daji Bhilare alias Bhilare Guruji who saved Mahatma Gandhi from Godse in 1944 passed away in Bhilar near the hill station on Wednesday. He was 98.
His cremation was attended by freedom fighters and legislators.
In interviews Bhilare had said “Everyone was allowed to attend Mahatma Gandhi’s prayer meetings in Panchgani. That day, his associates Usha Mehta, Pyarelal, Aruna Asaf Ali and others were present for the prayers. Godse rushed up to Gandhiji with a knife saying that he had some questions. I stopped him, twisted his hand and snatched the knife. But Gandhiji let him go.”
“Always engaged in social and public services, he was twice elected as a legislator from Mahabaleshwar constituency and was a very active figure fighting for rights and benefits of freedom fighters. Though active almost till his last breath, for the past few years, he rarely stepped out of his village,” said a close friend and state Congress Vice President Ratnakar Mahajan.
“Gandhiji used to visit Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani during the summer months. On one such trip in July 1944 after he was released from the Aga Khan Palace prison in Pune (following his arrest during the Quit India movement), he went to Panchgani to recuperate,” Mahajan recalled.
Years later after India won its independence, Godse gunned down the Father of the Nation on January 30, 1948, at Birla House in Delhi.
Top Congress leaders, including party Vice President Rahul Gandhi condoled the death of Bhilare.