By Alok Goswami
The blue serene waters of Andamans once again witnessed a historic agitation when BJP leader Sushma Swaraj led a satyagraha with more than 150 Members of Parliament in front of the famous Cellular Jail on September 21. They were demanding the restoration of Veer Savarkar´s plaque at the newly built Swatantraya Jyot inside the jail premises. It may be recalled that the plaque inscribed with Savarkar´s quote was removed from here on the orders of Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer. Aiyer, in a fit of confrontational politics ordered the installation of Mahatma Gandhi´s quote in place of Savarkar´s. The Swatantraya Jyot was built by former Petroleum Minister Ram Naik but he could not inaugurate it due to the proclamation of code of conduct at the time of the last Lok Sabha elections.
A mammoth rally was held at Tiranga Park, barely half a kilometre away from the Cellular Jail. Adjacent to Mahatma Gandhi´s statue, the Tiranga Park was completely overshadowed by BJP flags and banners. Besides BJP MPs and workers, a large number of local people had assembled braving the noon sun.
Former ministers Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha, Satyanarayan Jatia, senior MPs like Prof. V.K. Malhotra, Smt. Najma Heptullah and S.S. Ahluwalia addressed the gathering. Smt. Sushma Swaraj called upon the citizens of India to rise against the pseudo-secularist mindset, which was bent on insulting the national ethos. She thundered that in Delhi alone, more than 200 places had been named after the Nehru-Gandhi clan, as if no one else had done anything for the country. She said, ?When all the important places, roads, institutes, schools, awards, etc. are dedicated to the Gandhi family, can´t they give two feet space for the sacred memory of Veer Savarkar, that too at a place where he spent 11 years in solitary confinement??
At around 12.30 p.m. satyagrahis started their march towards Cellular Jail. Veer Savarkar´s picture and the bronze plaque were placed on a decorated vehicle. Shouting slogans like, ?Veer Savarkar Amar Rahein?, ?Bharat Mata ki jai?, ?Vande Mataram?, satyagrahis walked towards the jail. Since prohibitory orders had been issued around the jail premises, the police arrested the satyagrahis. Handing over the plaque to the local District Commissioner, Gyanesh Bharati, Smt. Sushma Swaraj said, ?Until a nationalist government comes to power and orders for the reinstallation of this plaque, keep it in your safe custody.? After that she too courted arrest. Later, the satyagrahis were released at the Netaji Stadium, which had been turned into a temporary jail.
Although the satyagrahis could not reinstal the plaque, they succeeded in conveying to those in power that their wrong doings would not be digested meekly.