On January 30, 1948 it was Raghu Nayak’s heroics and courage that caught Nathuram Godse, the man who shot dead the Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. But for nearly seven decades the name of Raghu Nayak, who worked as a gardener at the Birla House in New Delhi, remained forgotten by history.
Nayak who hailed from Jagulaipada village of Kendrapara district in Odisha grappled with Godse while he was trying to escape, helping the police to nab him. For his heroics, the then President Rajendra Prasad awarded him Rs 500. Raghu Nayak died in 1983 never getting the due recognition.
Raghu Nayak was one of the main eyewitnesses in Mahatma Gandhi‘s murder trial. In total, 147 witnesses including Raghu Nayak had been examined in India’s most famous murder trial, which was held at the Red fort in Delhi.
Last year, almost 33 years after his death, the Odisha government provided a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to 85-year-old Mandodari Nayak, his widow.
Even though forgotten by history, for the people of Jagulaipada he is a hero. In 2005 with assistance from German automobile maker Daimler-Chrysler they erected a memorial pillar in Nayak’s memory.
Raghu Nayak’s family members and villagers say history failed to give him his due. Pyarelal, the personal secretary of Gandhiji, mentioned the work of Raghu Nayak in his book ‘The Last Phase of Mahatma Gandhi’. “In the moment when Gandhi was shot, Raghu had pinned down Godse,” said Prafulla Das, a noted historian.