By H.S. Mehtani
The nation celebrated Mahatma Gandhi'sbirthday on 2nd October. He was a great leader with mass appeal; he worked for the poor, downtrodden, and untouchables, with his honest and practical approach. He was born in a Hindu family and brought up under Hindu sanskar and dharma. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Rama and had vision of Ramrajya (social justice) in the country. He believed in secularism, based on sarva dharma sambhave.
Mahatma Gandhi believed in non-violence and satyagraha as the weapons to get freedom from British rule. This he applied in South Africa to fight for the rights of Indian community and emerged victorious. His popularity spread not only in India but across the world. The Torys in England realised that Mahatma Gandhi might be a source of constant trouble in India. Exactly this is what happened. Masses rallied behind him, and became his strength in non-violent movements, like swadeshi, quit India, civil disobedience, Dandi yatra, etc., which really had a magical effect. But still, people doubted whether the British would ever leave India without an armed struggle. Youth were fiery and aggressive, much against the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi. They, like Veer Sarvakar, Saheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bagha Jatin and Khudiram Bose and many more, adopted violent means. This shook the British rule in India. The Britishers realised that the youth in the country was not ready to accept non-violent means and satyagraha to achieve their goal of Independence. On this there was also difference of opinion within the Congress itself. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, one time president of Congress, fled from the country to avoid house arrest and formed the Indian National Army (INA) in Singapore with the help of Japan and the Indian community there. The INA consisted of Indian soldiers who had surrendered to Japanese on the war front. This shocked the British government. Now on the eastern side, the British armed forces and INA were face to face. The British officers were doubly shocked to see that Indian soldiers of their contingents had sympathy with the soldiers of INA. Then the British government realised that the integrity of Indian soldiers was doubtful. That time the graph of Netaji'spopularity in India surpassed that of Mahatma Gandhi or Nehru. But luck did not favour him. With the fall of Japan, the INA too surrendered. Netaji disappeared from the scene. After that, Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru again came into limelight.
But they are silent and ignore the bloodshed and sufferings of millions due to the deadly British diplomacy. They turned the tide brewing for armed struggle against them into a bloody rift between two religious communities?the Hindus and Muslims.
Liberals in England decided to give freedom to India. But they divided the country into India and Pakistan and handed over the reins of power to the Congress in India on August 15, 1947 and to the Muslim League in Pakistan on August 14, a day earlier. Then they left India with very cordial and friendly relations with both the countries. Our Congressmen boast of getting Independence without any hostile encounter or single gunshot fired against the British. But they are silent and ignore the bloodshed and sufferings of millions due to the deadly British diplomacy. They turned the tide brewing for armed struggle against them into a bloody rift between two religious communities?the Hindus and Muslims. Islamic fundamentalism surfaced under the leadership of Dr Jinnah and started with ?direct action? by Muslims in 1946 at Kolkata, where about 10,000 Hindus were killed and another 2,000 wounded. Then riots spread to all parts of undivided India. The entire country was in a turmoil.
After Partition of the country, a million people were killed and millions migrated to India as refugees. Killings, rapes and looting continued unabated on the other side of the border. Mahatma Gandhi'sappeal to maintain peace went in vain. He was bent upon his mission of Hindu-Muslim unity, which proved a futile exercise.
The people, particularly the refugees from Pakistan, were not happy with Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru, and the way the situation was being handled.
Meanwhile, India received another blow when Pakistan attacked Kashmir, because the British did not want the western part of Kashmir to remain with India. Due to the common border with Russia, the Kashmir problem still exists.
The economic situation in India was hard hit due to the refugee problem, food shortage and war in Kashmir. Pakistan was still worse off. They did not have the money to pay salaries and meet administrative expenses. When they were on the verge of crumbling down, our Mahatma Gandhi became the Messiah for them. He forced Nehru to give Rs 50 crores to Pakistan for survival. The proposal was, of course, turned down. But Mahatma Gandhi threatened to go on a fast unto death; Nehru yielded to his pressure and agreed to pay the sum. As expected, there was no positive response from Pakistan. They remained thankless. Now one can imagine what must have been the public reaction. People were anti-Mahatma Gandhi, anti-Nehru and anti-Congress. The rest that has happened is history.