Savarkar consistently swam against the popular currents. He had no fear of opposition, criticism, or sacrifice.Even as a teenager, he started the Abhinav Bharat Society to overthrow British rule at a time when British Raj was considered a boon. He established the Patit Pavan Mandir, a temple open to all, when orthodox Hindus opposed temple entry of the so-called lower castes. In the times of appeasement under the name of Hindu– Muslim unity, he stood for equal rights for all. Though dubbed as communalist, he did not stop fighting for Akhand Bharat. In the era of Panchsheel and non-violence as foreign and security policy of India, he advocated militarization of the youth and upgradation of the armed forces.
Then, why should we be concerned about the criticism by modern-daycritics? During the launching ceremony of the book written by Shri Uday Mahurkar and me, Param Pujya Sarsanghchalak ji Dr Mohan Bhagwat rightly pointed out: There had been a deliberate attempts to defame Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the real target wasn’t a person but India’s nationalism.
The Savarkar critics have the same mindset as the Taliban, who destroyed the colossal, beautiful, and revered for centuries statue of Bamiyan Buddha.Any evidence or argument will not be enough to persuade the opponents. Once Savarkar’s defenders demonstrate the truth, they will frame new spurious charges. The Savarkar ‘mercy’ petition debate is a classical trap in which Savarkar’s supporters offer clarifications while failing to recognise his contribution to revolutionary movements in India and abroad, his endeavours to remove untouchability, language purification movement, ideas on national security and foreign policy and attempts to unite India. Nationalist party spokespersons fall victim to this as well. They flash the mirror to opponents by referencing Indira Gandhi’s letter, but Savarkar is much more than that.
One should also go into the history of Savarkar’s opponents. Their affinity for anti-India forces and hatred for Indic culture.From the literary assessment of these opponents, we can derive the following general ideological conclusions: Hindus are selfish and cowardly, always ruined by external invaders. Hindu nationalists have nothing to do with the struggle for freedom. Hindu movements are responsible for India’s divide.
Nationalists should redirect the discourse. With our book “Veer Savarkar: The Man who Could Have Prevented Partition”, we have made an effort to establish that if there is a discussion on Savarkar, it should not be about his petitions but rather about his endeavours to prevent the partition of India.
Flag bearers of the “Two Nation Theory”: not Jinnah but Savarkar and Sardar Patel!
“…India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous state, but on the contrary, there are two nations in the main—the Hindus and [the] Muslims in India…”By citing a fragment from Savarkar’s first speech as president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, eminent historians (!) blame Savarkar for the partition of India. There would be no confusion if they had taken littlepain to read some sentences before and after in the same paragraph.
This paragraph reads as follows: “It is safer to diagnose and treat a deep-seated disease than to ignore it. Let us face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous state, but on the contrary, there two nations in the main—the Hindus and [the] Muslims in India. And as it has happened in many countries in similar situation in the world, the utmost we can do under the circumstances is to form an Indian State in which none is allowed to have special weightage of representation and none is paid an extra price to buy his loyalty to the State. Mercenaries are paid and bought off, not the sons of the motherland to fight in its defence”
Clearly, Savarkar treated the two-nation theory as a disease that had to be cured and not ignored. After studying to his entire speech, one may derive the following conclusions.
· Hindus will adopt the common Indian state beyond any discrimination and favour.
· The policy of the Hindu Mahasabha is more national than the appeasement policy of the Congress.
· At the time of independence, separatist Muslim politics can become a threat to the integrity of the country.‘Let us work for harmony; let us hope for the best but let us be on guard.’
· Merely some organizations are not responsible for the Hindu-Muslim conflict, the rift in them since the middle ages, its reasons should also be discussed, it is the foundation of two-nation theory, it should be diagnosed by paying attention to that disease and not covered over.
· It is wrong to appease Muslims to involve them in the freedom struggle. “It is possible to buy mercenaries to protect the motherland but not their sons”.
There were compelling reasons for Savarkar to confront the subject of Islamic separatist politics.It is not correct, as is often believed, that the Muslim League’s “Pakistan” resolution of 1940 was the first attempt to establish a distinct Muslim nation.Sir Muhammad Iqbal, In his 1930 speech at the Allahabad session of the All India Muslim League, he had predicted Sindh as part of the future Muslim State in the north-west of India. The demand had also figured in Jinnah’s charter of 14 demands earlier in 1929. The name ‘Pakistan’ for the proposed Muslim homeland, coined by Choudhary Rahmat Ali at the time of the second Round Table Conference in London in 1932, had already been in public domain for almost five years, though less known. Significantly, Sindh was finally separated from Bombay Province in 1936, nearly a year before Savarkar became the Hindu Mahasabha president. This chronology had convinced Savarkar that Muslim politics in India would henceforth go in the direction of demanding a separate nation in the name of Islam and a feeble Congress would cave in before the Muslim League’s strategy.
It is also interesting to see how the nationalist Muslims see the Pakistan problem. Maulana Azad was a supporter of the Pan-Islamic brotherhood and so opposed the concept of a separate country: “Considering the scheme in all its aspects I have come to the conclusion that it is harmful not only for India as a whole but for Muslims in particular. And in fact it creates more problems than it solves.”
Even then, he did not see Jinnah as the real culprit. According to him, Sardar Patel was accountable for implementing the two nation theory. As he puts it:I was surprised and pained when Patel in reply said that whether we liked it or not, there were two nations in India. He was now convinced that Muslims and Hindus could not be united into one nation. There was no alternative except to recognise this fact… I was surprised that Patel was now an even greater supporter of the two nation theory than Jinnah. Jinnah may have raised the flag of partition but now the real flag bearer was Patel.” (pp 201, India Wins Freedom, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, 1988)
If “India’s Bismarck” is held accountable for partition, opponents’ vilification of Savarkar should come as no surprise.
Gandhi assassination: The first attempt of demonization of Savarkar in Independent India
The first attempt in independent India to demonise Savarkar was to link his name to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The government used Gandhi’s assassination not only to imprison Savarkar, but also to crush the entire Hindu movement by banning leading Hindu organisations and arresting their volunteers.The whole case against Savarkar was built around the statement of Digambar Badge, an arm dealer who became an approver in the assassination case and informed government officials that Godse and Apte visited Savarkar’s home on January 17, 1948, to seek his blessings. Badge said he was asked to wait on the ground floor as Godse and Apte went up to the first floor. “They returned in five to ten minutes followed by Savarkar. He addressed Godse and told him ‘Return successful’.” Badge stated that later in the cab, Apte said, “Tatyarao, (Savarkar), has predicted that now Gandhi’s hundred years are over. There is no doubt that our work will be successful.”
The court acquitted Savarkar and dismissed the accusation of Gandhiji’s murder against him, but Savarkar said very crucial point in his court statement that ought to be discussed. He maintained: “The detailed analysis of Badge’s evidence as given above in so far as it relates to me, proves that it consists mostly of fabrications and of the rest which has no evidentiary value against me. Badge’s motive in giving false evidence against me is clear. He saw that the police were working frantically on the basis of some shadowy suspicions they had to rope me in this case by hook or crook…Badge must have felt that the only way to save his skin was to turn an approver and to render himself acceptable to the Police as an indispensable approver, the only implied condition was to bear false evidence against me.”
Savarkar was well aware of the government officials’ plot against him. A key evidence for this conspiracy was recently revealed by historian Sheshrao More in his Marathi book “Gandhi hatya ani Savarkaranchi badnami”.
On November 18 and 19, 1948,Shankar Kistaiya, an assistant to Digambar Badge, presented testimony in court. However, the conspiracy took an unexpected turn when Kistaiya later revealed to his lawyer that he had been forced into making the statement by the police.
What Kistaiya stated in his judicial affidavit on December 29, 1948, verifies Savarkar’s allegations. The translation from Marathi is as follows:
“Initially me and Badge were kept in the same place. Later Badge was kept in the cell next to the jailer.Police officers Nagarwala and Khan saheb used to come to meet us when we stayed together. He gave Badge the job of teaching me what to say in court. Khan saheb said don’t panic, stay with the Badge and do as he says. Badge and I were given liquor every day.
The senior jailer told me to ask for whatever you want, don’t panic and don’t worry. Before noting Badge’s testimony, Nagarwala met him in jail at 12 o’clock. Nagarwala had been in jail about twenty times. They were asking Badge that you have taught Shankar? He started teaching me what to say in the court. I told Badge I didn’t know any of this. Why should I say all this in the court. Badge said why do you need to know everything, if you want to be innocent then you have to say what I say. Badge started teaching me and cramming everything again and again. Badge told me that Nagarwalais sending hundred rupees to his house every month. Badge asked me to request that hundred rupees be sent to my home as well. Badge told me that Nagarwala told the judge that Shankar was not guilty and that he should be released.
Recently me and my lawyer had a meeting. I told him this whole thing. The jailer came to know about this from somewhere. The jailer got angry with me. Badge slapped me in front of the jailer. I have nothing to do with this case in any way. I don’t know anything. The statement I had given earlier was given as per the instructionsfromBadge. I had said whatever Badge had taught.” (pp79, Gandhi hatya Ani SavarkaranchiBadnami, Sheshrao More, 2018)
The affidavit illustrates the methods of the government’s wicked conspiracy against Savarkar. Even Badge revealed to Manohar Malgaonkar, the author of ‘The Men Who Killed Gandhi,’ in a 1975 interview that he had been forced to lie. He never saw Savarkar talking to Apte, and he never heard him say “Return successful.” Savarkar did not even meet him on his way from Mumbai to Delhi with Godse and Apte.
There was a time when brave soldiers like Mangal Pandey were called mutineers. Nana Saheb Peshwa was labeled as the devil of Kanpur. The image of Rani Laxmi Bai was smeared. It was Savarkar who gave these heroes a worthy place in history through his book ‘The War of Independence of 1857’. It is also Savarkar’s unfortunate fate that, like these heroes, he has to fight for his deserved position in history even after his death