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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 49 November 26, 2022

Does Savarkar qualify as a Hero | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 26 November 2022, by Faraz Ahmad

In the runup to the 2014 general elections, a well-known TV channel anchor, an unapologetic Modi acolyte sought and got a much publicised interview with Rahul Gandhi where he kept pestering him why he had never apologised for the 1984 Sikh massacre in Delhi and neighbouring Haryana in reaction to two of her Sikh security officials gunning down the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inside her official bungalow.

Rahul had only made a reference to Muslim pogrom under the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in 2002. He offered no defence of the perpetrators of the anti-Sikh massacre. But the anchor determined to put Rahul at par with the then chief minister of Gujarat, kept persisting, never mind that Rahul was barely 14 at Mrs Gandhi’s assassination and had nothing to do even remotely with that horrid event. And that’s nothing new for every time the Congress party raises its voice on February-March, 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, Modi and his Sanghi brigade do a 1984 whataboutery.

By the same standard, don’t the Savarkar acolytes owe an apology for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, whom the Jeevanlal Kapoor Commission named in the conspiracy to assassinate the Father of the Nation?

Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar have unnecessarily created a storm. Fact of the matter is that Savarkar receiving a monthly pension from the Government of His Majesty, the King of England till Indian Independence, is on record.

However much the Hindutva forces may attempt to erase Savarkar’s past by putting him on a pedestal and honouring him with the title of Veer meaning the brave one, even if in his early youth he may have been associated with the endeavour to rebel against British occupation of India, in his later years he metamorphosed into an entirely different person.

Upon his release from British captivity in response to several mercy petitions to the Crown, he loyally served the interests of the British Kingdom, aiding their policy of divide and rule—of raising a communal wall between the Hindus and Muslims to ensure perpetuation of British rule on a divided and infighting set of people. Not that there were no Muslim communalists, they were as much active or perhaps more to inflame communal hatred against their Hindu brethren among the Muslim community at large. So Savarkar and his fellow Parivar members of Hindu Mahasabha were doing as much of service to the British as the Muslim League leaders among the Muslims, deflecting from the real task of freeing Mother India from the shackles of British slavery.

Savarkar’s admirers, restricted by the way only to the Hindutva brigade, who draw their inspiration from Savarkar’s vision of a majoritarian Hindu Rashtra, are naturally piqued every time someone from the other side reminds them of Savarkar’s real face, a communal venomous person who went to the extent of joining the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.

The one-man Kapoor Commission concluded in its report submitted to the Government of India on September 30, 1969 that "All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group." Savarkar escaped the noose in this conspiracy only because, the then Bombay state government did not investigate and produce sufficient evidence to implicate Savarkar’s complicity and ensure his conviction, Kapoor Commission held.

True, Rahul should have been more discreet and avoided or circumvented a comment even in reply to loaded questions on Savarkar at this juncture in Maharashtra when the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray was participating in his Bharat Jodo Yatra. That itself was a big achievement. But then the Hindutva brigade led by the embedded TV channels and their anchors continue eulogising Savarkar as one big hero without being in the least contrite about his role in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhiji. Therefore it is difficult to walk a tight rope. But there is no escape for Rahul from this, anyway.

It is worth reminding Savarkar worshippers that a hero does not abandon his comrades in a moment of crisis. Nathuram Godse nurtured in the RSS and a true disciple of Savarkar of course did his best to take all the responsibility on his shoulders and not implicate either RSS or Savarkar in the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. But a brave and committed leader, nee a Guru wouldn’t have abandoned his disciple the way both the RSS and Savarkar distanced themselves from Godse’s act, fearing retribution.

And yet so deep were the ties between Savarkar and Godse family that Gopal Godse (Nathuram’s brother) also convicted for conspiring to kill Gandhiji, who never disowned his role in the conspiracy, gave his daughter Himani in marriage to Savarkar’s nephew. And the same Himani presided over the revived Abhinav Bharat to establish Hindu Rashtra in 2008 as the investigations by the now dead Hemant Karkare discovered before he was done to death by Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Qassab (meaning butcher) in Mumbai. Don’t the Savarkar apologists owe an apology to the nation for killing the Father of the Nation? Or are they as much pleased with that cowardly terror act as those who hero worship Nathuram Godse to date?

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