Four years before Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, Nathuram Godse, the man who would shoot him three times in Delhi, tried to attack him with a knife. It was Bhiku Daji Bhilare who saved him. Yesterday, he died in Maharashtra; he was 98.
His cremation was attended by freedom fighters and legislators.
"Engaged In social and public services always, as legislator from Mahabaleshwar constituency he was elected twice 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.
As a 25-year-old sub-district president of the Rashtra Seva Dal, one of the frontal groups of the Congress, Bhilare prevented one of the six assassination attempts on the Mahatma made by Godse.
"During the month of summer Gandhiji used to visit Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani. 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.
Near a school in one of the evening during a prayer meeting, Godse, along with two other associates, rushed towards Gandhi with a knife, but Bhilare saw them, blocked their way, and after a brief struggle, succeeded in disarming Godse and one of his associates with some help, Mahajan recalled.