Rahul Gandhi’s contempt for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was apparent the other day in Lok Sabha. Sadly, like many other topics, his education on Bharat’s freedom struggle too seems to be incomplete.
Dear Rahul, here is a recap of Savarkar’s life for ignorant 44 year ‘youth leaders’ like you, and the coterie of baba-log that moves around with you on your Bharat-darshan trips or frequent holidays to exotic foreign locales
Who was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar?
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883 to 1966), or Veer Savarkar as he is popularly known, was a revolutionary freedom fighter who spent many years in prison in the Andamans.
What was his early life like?
He was born on May 28, 1883, in Bhagpur village near Nashik. After his parents died young, his elder brother Ganesh looked after the family. In 1898, the British hanged the Chapekar brothers in Pune for killing a British officer. This had a deep impact on the teenaged Savarkar, who decided to take up armed struggle against the British. He was also inspired by the new generation of radical political leaders namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai along with the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign.
In 1901, he joined the Ferguson College in Pune and set up the Abhinav Bharat Society, which preached a revolutionary struggle against the British. He also won a scholarship that took him to Britain to study law in 1906. Savarkar soon founded the Free India Society to help organize fellow Bharatiya students with the goal of fighting for complete independence through a revolution, declaring,
“We must stop complaining about this British officer or that officer, this law or that law. There would be no end to that. Our movement must not be limited to being against any particular law, but it must be for acquiring the authority to make laws itself. In other words, we want absolute independence.”
Was he the first to allude to 1857 War as the First War of Independence?
Savarkar envisioned a guerrilla war for independence along the lines of the famous war for Bharat’s independence of 1857. Studying the history of the revolt, from English as well as Bharatiya sources, Savarkar wrote the book, ‘The History of the War of Indian Independence.’ He analysed the circumstances of 1857 uprising and assailed British rule in Bharat as unjust and oppressive. It was via this book that Savarkar became one of the first writers to allude to the uprising as India’s “First War for Independence”, a terminology the government of Bharat accepted after Independence.
Since there was no question of printing the book in Britain, it was printed in Holland and copies of it were smuggled into Bharat. The book was a huge success, giving Bharatiyas a strong sense of pride, providing a fresh perspective on a war that was till then merely seen as the outcome of disgruntled native soldiers in the service of the British. The second edition was published by Bharatiyas in the US while Bhagat Singh printed the third edition. Its translations were a big success: the Punjabi and Urdu translations traveled far and wide while the Tamil translation almost becoming mandatory reading for soldiers of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army — a majority of who were Tamilians from Southeast Asia.
When was he arrested?
In Britain, he also created a network of like-minded individuals. Given his anti-British activities, the police soon came looking for him.He was arrested in London on March 13, 1910 and sent to Bharat to face trial. He was tried, and on December 24, 1910, sentenced to 50 years in prison. On July 4, 1911, he was sent to Port Blair’s Cellular Jail in Andaman island (also known as Kaala Pani).
50 years! That must have been very tough.
It certainly was. Savarkar’s supporters always point to his incredibly difficult and degrading days in jail, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment when he was in the prime of life; placed in solitary confinement while other leaders had it much easier and were released whenever their health failed or someone in the family fell ill. Savarkar enjoyed no such luxury. Forced to arise at 5 am, tasks including cutting trees and chopping wood, and working at the oil mill under regimental strictness, with talking amidst prisoners strictly prohibited during mealtime. Prisoners were subject to frequent mistreatment and torture. Contact with the outside world and home was restricted to the writing and mailing of one letter a year. In these years, Savarkar withdrew within himself and performed his routine tasks mechanically. Obtaining permission to start a rudimentary jail library, Savarkar would also teach some fellow convicts to read and write.
How long was he in prison?
In 1920, Vithalbhai Patel — Vallabhbhai Patel’s elder brother — demanded Savarkar’s release, a demand also backed by Gandhi and Nehru. On May 2, 1921, Savarkar was shifted from the Cellular Jail (after 10 years of Rigorous Imprisonment), first to the Alipore Jail in Bengal and then to Ratnagiri Jail in western Maharashtra. He was released on January 6, 1924 on the condition that he would not leave Ratnagiri district, which is not very far from Mumbai, till 1937.
Savarkar’s Vision Proved Right Over Time
To Savarkar, as he succinctly put down in his last book, ‘Six Glorious Chapters of Indian History’, no nation could aspire for civilisational greatness without acquiring military strength. Savarkar lived to see the vindication of his proposition in contemporary Bharat. Gandhi’s policy of pacifism failed to buy peace with Muslims, leading to carnages and expulsion of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru’s dream of “talking his way to leadership of the world”, and forging Hindi-Chini brotherhood through slogans failed badly. Slapped hard by China, he was exposed for what he was — a meek leader of a Third World country. Independent Bharat scarcely realises the greatest debt it owes to Savarkar; turning a Muslim dominated Bharatiya Army into a predominantly Hindu-Sikh Army with his whirlwind recruitment drive during World War II. If it were otherwise, Pakistan, even after partition, would have 60 per cent to 70 per cent of soldiers, enough to overwhelm West Bengal, East Punjab, threatening Delhi, let alone much talked about Jammu & Kashmir.
Attempts To Implicate Savarkar For Gandhi’s Murder Were Politically Motivated
LK Advani has written in his blog about how the attempt to implicate Savarkar for Gandhi’s murder was politically motivated. And true to their legacy of dynasty above all else, Congress party even today disregards the fact that the Court which tried the accused in the Gandhi murder case sentenced two to death, and others to differing terms of imprisonment, but found Veer Savarkar “Not guilty” and acquitted him. Shri Advani talks in his blog about a book ‘The Men Who Killed Gandhi ‘ which revealed a hitherto unknown facet on this topic –
“Anyone who reads this introduction would appreciate how important it is for the whole nation to know what Dr. Ambedkar revealed to Savarkar’s counsel Bhopatkar. I therefore am reproducing excerpts from this edition of the book in that regard.
“Why were the police so anxious to implicate Savarkar? Was it merely that, having failed in their proper function to arrest Nathuram before he killed Gandhi, they were making a bid to save face by raising the bogey of some sensational plot which involved a big leader who, providentially happened to be in bad odour with the government of the day? Or was that government itself, or some powerful group in it, using the police agency to destroy a rival political organization or at least to destroy a fiercely uncompromising opposition stalwart?
Or, again, was the whole thing a manifestation of some form of phobia peculiar to India, religious, racial, linguistic, or provincial, that made Savarkar a natural target for the venom of some section of society?
Whatever it was, Savarkar himself was so conscious of these currents, so convinced that the authorities were determined to take him to court as an accomplice of Nathuram, that when, five days after Gandhi’s murder, a police party entered his house he went forward to meet it and asked: ‘So you have come to arrest me for Gandhi’s murder?
Savarkar being made an accused in the Gandhi-murder trial may well have been an act of political vendetta. Of course, Badge, on his track record is a slippery character and not to be relied upon, but he was most insistent to me that he had been forced to tell lies, and that his pardon and future stipend by the police department in Bombay depended upon his backing the official version of the case and, in particular that, he never saw Savarkar talking to Apte, and never heard him telling them: ‘Yeshaswi houn ya.’
While in Delhi for the trial, Bhopatkar had been put up in the Hindu Mahasabha office. Bhopatkar had found it a little puzzling that while specific charges had been made against all the other accused, there was no specific charge against his client. He was pondering about his defence strategy when one morning he was told that he was wanted on the telephone, so he went up to the room in which the telephone was kept, picked up the receiver and identified himself. His caller was Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who merely said: “Please meet me this evening at the sixth milestone on the Mathura road,” but before Bhopatkar could say anything more, put down the receiver.
That evening, when Bhopatkar had himself driven to the place indicated he found Ambedkar already waiting, He motioned to Bhopatkar to get into his car which he, Ambedkar himself, was driving. A few minutes later, Ambedkar stopped the car and told Bhopatkar : There is no real charge against your client; quite worthless evidence has been concocted. Several members of the cabinet were strongly against it, but to no avail. Even Sardar Patel could not go against these orders. But, take it from me, there just is no case. You will win.” Who… Jawaharlal Nehru?… But why?”
So, dear Rahul Gandhi you would be well advised to stick to making banal ‘fair and lovely’ type comments in Parliament, or go to stage managed PR events which can be fawningly covered by your media cheerleaders in NDTV, Indian Express etc. Don’t tax your mind too much in trying to learn Bharat’s history – the subject is beyond you.