Dominique re-launches ‘Freedom at Midnight’

Tanu Talwar

37 years after he gave a first hand account of the last years of British rule in India, French literary icon and philanthropist Dominique Lapierre re-launched his bestseller ‘Freedom at Midnight’. Since the book describes one of the gloomiest events in Indian history – the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, it was only apt to re-launch it on the death anniversary of the Mahatma - 30th January.

At a celestial event attended by diplomats, intellectuals, writers, artists, connoisseurs and opinion leaders, the author held a packed venue as he spoke about his encounters with some of the most prominent personalities in history.

Observing the 61st death anniversary of Gandhi, the author said “There is a story I would like to recall today - the tale of Gandhi’s assassination on the lawns of the Birla House at 5 pm, Jan 30. The police knew that there was a conspiracy to kill Mahatma Gandhi because one of the assassins had been caught before the murder. The police knew the names of those who had come to kill him from Poona (Pune), but did not arrest them”.

The book that was first published in 1975, was a joint collaboration with his long-time friend and co-league Larry Collins. Going back in time, the author spoke about the investigation and the years of hard-work, he and his late friend had put in the book.

Dominique said, "From my encounters with Lord Mountbatten to tracking down the accomplice of Mahatma’s killers, Freedom at Midnight gives a detailed account of the conspiracy that led to the assassination. We had managed to track down Gopal Godse. He told us how for days he had his accomplices, Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte, Vishnu Karkare and Madanlal Pawha had prepared for the murder”.

Talking about the significance of the book in today’s times, Dominique said, "The significance of the new edition lies in engaging the minds of two generations born into a free country, to enable them to empathetically understand the aspirations and goals that united our leaders then towards the common cause of freedom. The significance lies in invoking the re-awakening of the Indian spirit".

As for his message for today’s youth Dominique said, "It is time for the over 1 billion people in India to ask themselves honestly what their contribution has been thus far towards realizing an India free from poverty, illiteracy and inequality”.