Gandhi's 240-mile journey marked the start of colonialism's demise. Courtesy: Time Weekly - Soon after saying his customary dawn prayers, Mahatma Gandhi emerged from his ashram to greet a crowd of thousands gathered to witness the start of his latest and most defiant protest against the "curse" of British rule. A volunteer band raised its horns and, it was reported, blared a few bars of God Save the King before it apparently dawned on the musicians that a rousing salute to the English sovereign was not the most appropriate send-off. Their fading notes were overtaken by the sound of coconuts being smashed together, a traditional Hindu sign of devotion. Gandhi, leaning on a lacquered bamboo staff, soon set out along the winding, dusty road. His destination: Dandi, 240 miles away, where 25 days later he would collect a few grains of salt in defiance of the British tax that forced locals to pay prices for the compound that were said to be up to 2,000% greater than its production costs. Following his lead, thousands of Indian villagers waded into the sea to extract salt themselves. Thus began Gandhi's campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience—and the beginning of the end of the British Empire. REFERENCE: 1923-1939 A Disobedient Saint's March By AMANDA BOWER Monday, Mar. 31, 2003 http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1977881_1977883_1978093,00.html
1969 Report of Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission of Inquiry in to Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi (Part 1 and Part 2) - Full text of the report of Commission of Inquiry in to Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi 1965 - 1969. Published in 1970 by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, the report is now not so widely known since its has been out of print. This two part report has been now been digitised and uploaded on the internet in public interest with the intent to permanently keep it in the public domain. http://www.sacw.net/article2611.html
Special Thanks: We suggest people should read as an introductory note a comment by the historian Dilip Simeon on his blog. Here are some excerpts: On January 20, a bomb exploded 75 feet away from the dais at Gandhi’s prayer meeting. One Madanlal Pahwa was arrested. Six other men escaped in a taxi. This was the fifth attempt on his life since 1934, and all of them were made by extreme Hindu nationalists. [. . .] On January 30, soon after he arrived at his prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse, editor of a Poona-based Marathi journal called Hindu Rashtra, fired three bullets at him at point-blank range and killed him. The story of this crime is complex (Payne 2003, 609-35). On February 4, the Government of India declared the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh to be unlawful, noting that its members had “indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder.. carried on under a cloak of secrecy.” It accused the Sangh of “exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods.” The communique went on to state that “the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself” (Goyal 1979, 202). The trial of eight conspirators including V.D. Savarkar took place through 1948. Godse made a speech stating his belief in in Savarkar’s ideal of Hindu nationalism, and his conviction that Gandhi was “a political and ethical imposter…a traitor to his faith and his country, a curse to India, a force for evil.., and the greatest enemy not only of Hindus, but of the whole nation” (Payne 2003, 637-41). Parts of the speech suggest that Godse saw himself as an agency of Lord Krishna. The speech remains popular with a certain section of political opinion. Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death in February 1949 and hanged in November. They went to the gallows shouting Akhand Bharat amar rahe, not realising that a united India was also Gandhi’s dearest ideal. Unlike them, however, he did not believe that united India could be a Hindu Rashtra. Five conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment, which in India those days meant fourteen years. Savarkar was acquitted for lack of evidence. However, doubts remained about the extent of the conspiracy; the behaviour of the Bombay and Delhi police between January 20 and 30; and the evidence of V.D. Savarkar’s involvement. In 1965, the Government of India set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi, headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court. It examined evidence not produced during the trial, including the testimony of Savarkar’s bodyguard Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary Gajanan Vishnu Damle. Had they testified in 1948, Savarkar would have been convicted. The evidence confirmed Godse and Apte’s visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Commission that they visited Savarkar again on or about January 23, upon their return from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle stated that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar “in the middle of January and sat with him in his garden.” Justice Kapur’s findings were clear. He noted the deadly negligence of the police. And he concluded that the facts taken together undermined “any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.” (Noorani, March 2003). REFERENCE: 1969 Report of Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission of Inquiry in to Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi (Part 1 and Part 2) Thursday 29 March 2012 http://www.sacw.net/article2611.html
Mahatma Gandhi Speech on Pakistan
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 1
At the unveiling of a portrait of Savarkar in Parliament House on February 26. (From left) Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi. The Sangh Parivar has, after long years of public silence on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar - the originator of the concept of "Hindutva", a `freedom fighter' who repeatedly gave undertakings and apologies to the British Raj to get out of harsh incarceration, and a conspirator in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination - brought him out of the closet as one of its heroes, as the original `Hindu nationalist'. On February 26, 2003, at the instance of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and in the face of Opposition protest, Savarkar's portrait was unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Ten months earlier, on May 4, 2002, Union Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, was in the Andaman Islands to rename the Port Blair Airport as the Veer Savarkar Airport. Frontline columnist A.G. Noorani is the author of the illuminating, meticulously documented, definitive book, Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection, published in 2002 by LeftWord Books, Delhi. Frontline's Editor invited the author to contribute an article on Savarkar and Gandhi in the context of the former's portrait being unveiled in Parliament. WOULD one shake hands with a person who was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to murder one's friend solely because the approver's evidence, though trustworthy otherwise, lacked independent corroboration as the law required? Gandhi was no ordinary mortal. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who had a track record of complicity in at least two murders, was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to Gandhi's murder only because the approver, Digambar Badge's evidence lacked independent corroboration; a common flaw in conspiracy cases. But Judge Atma Charan accepted Badge as a truthful witness. "He gave his version of the facts in a direct and straight-forward manner. He did not evade cross-examination or attempt to evade or fence with any question."
Badge's version was that on January 17, he went with the assassin, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, and their accomplice, Narayan Apte, to Savarkar's home and that he heard Savarkar, while bidding them farewell, say, "Yashasvi houn ya" (Be successful and come back). On the way back, Apte told Badge that Savarkar had predicted that "Gandhiji's 100 years were over - there was no doubt that would be successfully finished." The verdict of acquittal was sound in law. However, Union Home Minister Sardar Patel had "kept myself almost in daily touch with the progress of the investigation regarding Bapu's assassination case. I devote a large part of my evening to discussing with Sanjevi (the top police officer) the day's progress and giving instructions to him on any points that arise". His conclusion was characteristically clear: "It was a financial wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that (hatched) the conspiracy and saw it through". (Emphasis added, throughout.) When persons charged with the murder of its president Deen Dayal Upadhyaya were acquitted, the Jan Sangh demanded that a Commission of Inquiry be appointed to unravel "the whole truth". (The Chandrachud Commission rejected the Sangh's charges against political opponents of complicity in that murder.) By the same token, the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi, which was set up in 1965, deserves greater weight than the verdict of the Sessions Court. It was headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court and was provided with evidence not produced in the court; especially the testimony of two of Savarkar's close aides - Appa Ramachandra Kasar, his bodyguard, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, his secretary.
Had they testified in Court, Savarkar would have been convicted. There was none of the ambiguity surrounding Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Kapur Commission that they visited him on or about January 23 or 24, which was when they returned from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle deposed that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar "in the middle of January and sat with him (Savarkar) in his garden." Justice Kapur's findings are all too clear. He concluded: "All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group." In his crime report No.1, the main police investigating officer, Jimmy Nagarvala, had stated that "Savarkar was at the back of the conspiracy and that he was feigning illness." Nagarvala's letter of January 31, 1948, the day after the assassination, mentioned, on the strength of what Kasar and Damle disclosed to him, that Savarkar, Godse and Apte met for 40 minutes "on the eve of their departure to Delhi" and that these two had access to the house of Savarkar without any restriction." In short, Godse and Apte met Savarkar again, in the absence of Badge, and in addition to their meetings on January 14 and 17.
No government with any sense of decency would unveil such a person's portrait in the hallowed premises of Parliament - there, to face the portrait of the very man he had, as Patel and Kapur found, conspired to murder. Another person familiar with police investigations was the Home Minister of the Bombay Province, Morarji Desai. He had assigned his best police officers to the investigation. Desai's carefully worded judgment on Savarkar in the Bombay Legislative Council on April 3, 1948, when R.N. Mandlik referred to "the past services of the Savarkar brothers," is relevant. Morarji Desai's retort was devastatingly brief: "May I say, Sir, that the past services are more than offset by the present disservice?" THE verdict of acquittal of Savarkar pronounced by Judge Atma Charan was sound in law, given the evidence before him. The evidence that surfaced thereafter impels a different verdict at the bar of history, which is, surely, more weighty morally. This is especially so in the light of Savarkar's own conduct in two significant respects.
First, arrested on suspicion of complicity in Gandhi's murder, he wrote this in a demeaning letter to the Commissioner of Police, Bombay, on February 22, 1948: "Consequently, in order to disarm all suspicion and to back up the above heart representation, I wish to express my willingness to give an undertaking to the government that I shall refrain from taking part in any communal or political public activity for any period the government may require in case I am released on that condition." It was contemptuously rejected. Secondly, Savarkar lied in court about his proximity to the assassin Godse and accomplice Apte. "Pandit Godse and Narayan Apte got themselves introduced to me as Hindu Mahasabha workers at Nagar and Poona and later on came to be personally acquainted with me." After Savarkar's death, Godse's brother, Gopal, revealed the closeness of the relationship in his Marathi book Gandhi Hatya, Ani Me ("Gandhi's Murder and I"), published in 1967. An English translation was published later. Gopal Godse's revelations about their relationship totally belie Savarkar's version. It was much more than an "acquaintance." Once Savarkar was set free in 1937, "Nathuram started going about with Veer Savarkar everywhere." Savarkar's biographer Dhananjay Keer wrote: "In his early youth Godse was a worker of the RSS and later, he was a prominent member of the All India Committee of the Hindu Mahasabha. He was a well-known journalist in Maharashtra and the editor of a Marathi daily, the Agrani - the Leader - changed to a new name, the Hindu Rashtra at a later stage. Better known as Pandit Nathuram Godse, this editor was a staunch Savarkarite, and was fairly known as the vanguard and lieutenant of Savarkar." Would Savarkar have lied thus if he were innocent of the charge?
The letter to the Commissioner of Police is only the fourth in a series of abject apologies and undertakings. An earlier one in 1925 was first exposed in Frontline ("Far from Heroism" by Krishnan Dubey and Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, April 7, 1995). To secure release from jail, Savarkar undertook "that he will not engage publicly or privately in any manner of political activities without the consent of the government for a period of five years, such restriction being renewable at the discretion of government at the expiry of the said term." The government resolution, which recorded the undertaking, continued: "Mr. Savarkar has already indicated his acceptance of these terms. He has also, though it was explained to him that it was in no way made condition of his release, submitted the following statement - `I hereby acknowledge that I had a fair trial and just sentence. I heartily abhor methods of violence resorted to in days gone by, and I feel myself duty bound to uphold Law and the Constitution to the best of my powers and am willing to make the Reform a success insofar as I may be allowed to do in future'." This was a reference to the Montford Reforms of 1918, which fell short of Indian expectations. It is disingenuous of apologists to argue that ill-treatment in the Andamans led to a collapse of his health and broke his spirit; hence the apologies. This is untrue.
Savarkar was brought to the Andamans on July 4, 1911. Before the year ended, he sent his first petition for clemency. He was in perfectly good health. It is referred to in the second petition of November 24, 1913, in which he wrote: "In the end I remind your honour to be so good as to go through the petition for clemency, that I had sent in 1911, and to sanction it for being forwarded to the Indian government? The latest development of the Indian politics and the conciliating policy of the government have thrown open the constitutional line once more. Now no man having the good of India and humanity at heart will blindly step on the thorny paths which in the excited and hopeless situation of India in 1906-1907 beguiled us from the path of peace and progress. Therefore if the government in their manifold beneficence and mercy release me, I for one cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English Government, which is the foremost condition of that progress... . Moreover my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide. I am ready to serve the government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would be. By keeping me in jail nothing can be got in comparison to what would be otherwise. The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the government? Hoping your honour will kindly take into notion these points." Mark the words "loyalty to the English government."
Which other freedom fighter has so sustained a record of abject apologies and undertakings? They were given in 1911, 1913, 1925, 1948 and 1950. The last was given in the Bombay High Court on July 13, 1950 to secure release from preventive detention. Advocate-General L.K. Daphtary, who had prosecuted him in the Gandhi murder case, told the court that "he was authorised to state that if Savarkar would give an undertaking that he would not participate in political activities and would remain at his own house in Bombay, government would agree to his release". Savarkar's lawyer gave the undertaking on his behalf. IT took the Sangh Parivar long to own up Savarkar. The Jan Sangh never spoke of him or of Hindutva from 1951-1977. The BJP, formed in 1980, took up Hindutva only in 1990 and Savarkar in 2000, through Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. His Deputy, L.K. Advani, spoke of Savarkar in the Andamans on May 4, 2002. He admitted his intellectual debt to Savarkar and his essay Hindutva. Advani said: "Today, Hindutva is considered an offensive word. But we must remember that the pioneers of Hindutva like Veer Savarkar and RSS founder Hedgewar kindled fierce, nationalistic spirit that contributed to India's liberation."
This is a brazen falsehood. Savarkar met the arch imperialist Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, in Bombay on October 9, 1939 - the month Congress asked its Ministers in the provinces to resign and pledged his enthusiastic cooperation to the British. Linlithgow reported to Lord Zetland, the Secretary of State for India: "The situation, he [Savarkar] said, was that His Majesty's Government must now turn to the Hindus and work with their support. After all, though we and the Hindus have had a good deal of difficulty with one another in the past, that was equally true of the relations between Great Britain and the French and, as recent events had shown, of relations between Russia and Germany. Our interests were now the same and we must therefore work together. Even though now the most moderate of men, he had himself been in the past an adherent of a revolutionary party, as possibly, I might be aware. (I confirmed that I was.) But now that our interests were so closely bound together the essential thing was for Hinduism and Great Britain to be friends, and the old antagonism was no longer necessary."
It was a clear offer of collaboration with the British to suppress the Congress' movement. Savarkar's colleague in the Hindu Mahasabha and founder of the Jan Sangh, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, was Finance Minister in the Bengal Ministry headed by Fazlul Haq. Mahasabhites were members of the Muslim League Ministry in Sind. On July 26, 1949, Mookerjee wrote to Governor John Herbert renewing this offer in these explicit terms:
"I have been thinking over the questions which we discussed at some length at the last Cabinet Meeting, specially arising out of the threatened Congress movement. It is of utmost importance that there should be complete understanding between you, as Governor, and your colleagues during the present critical period... . "Let me now refer to the situation that may be created in the province as a result of any widespread movement launched by the Congress. Anybody who, during the war, plans to stir up mass feelings, resulting in internal disturbances or insecurity, must be resisted by any government that may function for the time being."
Such, if Advani is to be believed, is the "fierce nationalistic spirit that contributed to India's liberation". Why, then, are Advani & Co. so eager to honour Savarkar? It is because the Sangh Parivar was never part of the freedom movement led by Gandhi. It needs a "national" hero, one who reflects its communal credo in opposition to the nationalist credo. Savarkar is the obvious choice. He pronounced the two-nation theory, first, in 1923 in his essay Hindutva and next in 1937 in his presidential address to the Mahasabha. In 1923 he wrote: "We Hindus are bound together not only by the love we bear to a common fatherland and by the blood that courses through our veins... but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilisation - our Hindu culture... we are one because we are a nation, a race and own a common Sanskriti (civilisation)."
As soon as Savarkar was free from the humiliating undertaking he had given to the British in 1925 not to engage in "political activities", he presided over the Ahmedabad session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 when he said: "I warn the Hindus that the Mohammedans are likely to prove dangerous to our Hindu Nation... India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main: the Hindus and the Moslems in India." A year later, in 1938, at the Nagpur Session, he went one better. He rejected the concept of Indian nationalism on which the entire freedom movement led by the Congress was based: "The original political sin, which our Hindu Congressites... committed at the beginning of the Indian National Congress movement and are persistently committing still of running after the mirage of a territorial Indian Nation and of seeking to kill as an impediment in that fruitless pursuit the lifegrowth of an organic Hindu Nation... . We Hindus are a Nation by ourselves because religious, racial, cultural and historical affinities bind us intimately into a homogenous nation." This is the concept of "cultural nationalism" as opposed to "territorial nationalism", which the RSS boss M.S. Golwalkar derided in his Bunch of Thoughts (Chapter X). Everyone born in India does not belong to "the nation". He must also accept the credo of Hindutva, "cultural nationalism". As Savarkar put it: "The Hindus are the nation in India - in Hindusthan, and the Moslem minority a community." Now read these lines: "Our nationalist vision is not merely bound by the geographical or political identity of India, but defined by our ancient cultural heritage. From this belief flows our faith in `cultural nationalism', which is the core of Hindutva. That, we believe, is the identity of our ancient nation - Bharatvarsha. Hindutva is a unifying principle which alone can preserve the unity and integrity of our nation." They occur in the BJP's election manifesto of 1996 under the section, significantly, on Ayodhya. The formulations are repeated in the 1998 manifesto under the heading "Our national identity, cultural nationalism". Advocacy of Hindutva ends with the explanation: "It is with such integrative ideas in mind, the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi movement." Advani's falsification of history conveyed a strong political message. The installation of Savarkar's portrait in Parliament buttresses it. The BJP regime is out to promote its agenda. It will fight the elections on the Hindutva plank. The unveiling of Savarkar's portrait shows that it is prepared to stoop very low in order to accomplish its sordid ends. It will replace the national ideology of secularism with Hindutva and the national hero Gandhi as the Father of the Nation, with Savarkar who, Justice Kapur found, had conspired to kill him. REFERENCE: CONTROVERSY Savarkar and Gandhi A.G. NOORANI - The unveiling of Savarkar's portrait in Parliament shows that the BJP is prepared to stoop low to accomplish its sordid ends. It will replace the national ideology of secularism with Hindutva and Gandhi as the Father of the Nation, with Savarkar who, the Kapur Commission found, had conspired to kill him. Volume 20 - Issue 06, March 15 - 28, 2003 India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2006/stories/20030328003603400.htm
Why did Nathuram Godse kill Mahatma Gandhi?
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 2
NEW DELHI: It is an irony of history that Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to independence from British colonial rule in 1947, is now in a popularity contest with Veer Savarkar, arrested for the assassination of the 'Apostle of Peace' but acquitted for lack of corroborative evidence. Gandhi was shot dead at a prayer meeting on June 30, 1948, by Nathuram Godse, who like most Hindu chauvinists to this day, blame him and his philosophy of non-violence for the partition of the sub-continent into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu majority India immediately before independence. In fact, it was Savarkar who was a staunch proponent of the idea that India consisted of two 'nations' - Hindu and Muslim. Gandhi, on the other hand, agreed to the partition only because he saw the futility of resisting and was keen on avoiding bloodshed. During its six years in power that ended with the surprise electoral defeat in May, the pro-Hindu, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did its best to rehabilitate Veer Savarkar. The BJP even unveiled his portrait in Parliament House at a ceremony boycotted by the Congress and other parties that were then part of the national opposition. Savarkar is considered a staunch patriot, especially in his native Maharashtra state, but his critics accuse him - apart from conspiring to assassinate Gandhi - of winning his way out of a British jail set up in a penal colony on the Andaman Islands jail by swearing fealty to the British Crown. On a recent visit to the Andaman Islands, senior Congress party leader and cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar ordered the removal of a plaque inscribed with the sayings of Savarkar, set up during BJP rule, and replaced it with another bearing quotes from Gandhi. With Maharashtra set to elect a new assembly next month, in the first major trial of strength after the April/May general elections, the BJP has discovered in the 'insult' to Savarkar a convenient election issue in a state where he has iconic status rivalling that of Gandhi. In fact, BJP members did their best to use the plaque issue to stall the just concluded budget session of Parliament and the important finance bill which brought in sweeping social changes. The bill was then passed without the participation of the BJP-led opposition. Sensing danger to its prospects in Maharashtra, the Congress party quickly distanced itself from Aiyar's opinions of Savarkar with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself saying at a weekend press conference to mark the 100 days in office of his Congress-led government that he considered Savarkar to be a "patriot and a freedom fighter." Despite the partition, India continues to have the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. Winning the Maharashtra elections could give the BJP the morale booster it badly needs after its shock defeat in the general elections which many of its own hardline leaders said came about because it had abandoned its core ideology of 'Hindutva' (or Hinduness). On the other hand, the Congress party and its allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) attribute their victory to their championship of the essentially secular character of the Indian republic - which the party has been relentlessly maintaining. In practical terms, that boils down to the Congress championing the ideals of Gandhi and the BJP doing its best to deify Savarkar and present him as an alternative - at least for the Maharashtra campaign. In the latest episode of this war of icons, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which provides men and muscle to the BJP, filed a defamation suit against Union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh for accusing the organisation of involvement in the Gandhi assassination. Arjun Singh reacted by saying that he stood by the charges he made at a national convention earlier this month where he said the country could expect little from an organization (the RSS) whose "biggest achievement was the killing of Mahatma Gandhi." The ties that Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse maintained with the RSS were sufficiently close for a ban to be slapped on the organization for more than a year afterwards by the post-independence Indian government. The RSS has consistently denied having anything to do with a murder that caused the United Nations to declare a period of mourning. One reason that the BJP is falling back to historical figures and 'national' issues is that its allies in the ousted National Democratic Allies (NDA) have warned that they would quit the coalition if the BJP persisted with its communal agenda. Many of the BJP's allies, notably the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in southern Andhra Pradesh have blamed the electoral debacle suffered by the NDA on the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in western Gujarat that continues to be ruled by the BJP - as also the major states of central Madhya Pradesh and western Rajasthan. Clearly, the BJP's pro-Hindu stance is suffering from the law of diminishing returns. A 'Mood of the Nation' opinion poll commissioned by the pro- BJP 'India Today' newsmagazine and released on Sunday showed the Congress- led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rapidly gaining in popularity over the NDA that was favoured to win handsomely in the April/May elections on a supposed 'feel-good factor.' The BJP is far from anything like reviving the wave of pro- Hindu sentiment it generated in 1992 around the emotive issue of building a temple to the warrior deity Rama on the site of the Babri Mosque - which BJP supporters demolished in northern Uttar Pradesh's northern Ayodhya town. Yet, the Congress party-led, communist backed United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is treading warily on issues that could give its arch rival an emotive edge and regain the political initiative. Manmohan Singh's government has left it to the Supreme Court to sort out issues arising from the worst legacy of the BJP rule - the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in western Gujarat that left more than 2,000 people dead and tens of thousands of others homeless in the state where Mahatma Gandhi was born and spent much of his life. -Dawn/The Inter Press News Service. REFERENCE: Gandhi's idealism & Hindu fundamentalism still at odds 09 September 2004 Thursday 23 Rajab 1425 http://archives.dawn.com/2004/09/09/fea.htm
Mahatma Gandhi Speech
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 3
Mahatma Gandhi Talks- First Indian Talking Movie
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 4
Gopal Godse- "THE LAST CONFESSION OF THE ASSASSIN" - Part I
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 5
Gopal Godse- "THE LAST CONFESSION OF THE ASSASSIN" - Part II
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 6
Gopal Godse- "THE LAST CONFESSION OF THE ASSASSIN" - Part III
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 7
Murder of Mahatma Gandhi & Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission Report PART 8
Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur's account of the murder of Mahatma Gandhi -published by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1970- is an important document that has been all but forgotten in contemporary India. Read below a short background: 'volume' citations are from Gandhi's Collected Works. Gandhi had arrived in Delhi from Calcutta in September 1947. He planned to walk to Pakistan, leading Hindu and Sikh refugees back to the homes whence they had fled, and return with Indian Muslims who had left their homes out of fear. He postponed this plan upon realizing the extent of communal violence and hatred in Delhi and its environs. Between January 13 and 18 he undertook a fast – his last, as it turned out – to obtain the return of a shrine to its proper owners. Here is what he said about it on December 22 1947:
“Some eight or ten miles from here, at Mehrauli, there is a shrine of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Chisti. Esteemed as second only to the shrine at Ajmer, it is visited every year not only by Muslims but by thousands of non-Muslims too. Last September this shrine was subjected to the wrath of Hindu mobs. The Muslims living in the vicinity of the shrine for the last 800 years had to leave their homes. I mention this sad episode to tell you that, though Muslims love the shrine, today no Muslim can be found anywhere near it. It is the duty of the Hindus, Sikhs, the officials and the Government to open the shrine again and wash off this stain on us. The same applies to other shrines and religious places of Muslims in and around Delhi. The time has come when both India and Pakistan must unequivocally declare to the majorities in each country that they will not tolerate desecration of religious places, be they small or big. They should also undertake to repair the places damaged during riots.” (Collected Works vol 98, p 98-99).
The Delhi fast was immensely successful and an agreement emerged for the maintenance of communal harmony. (The story is told elsewhere: see Another time, another mosque). But on January 20, a bomb exploded 75 feet away from the dais at Gandhi’s prayer meeting at Birla House, New Delhi. One Madanlal Pahwa was arrested. Six other men escaped in a taxi. This was the fifth attempt on his life since 1934, and all of them were made by extreme Hindu nationalists. Gandhi was unruffled. Upon being asked to agree to additional policemen for his meetings, he refused, saying that his life was in the hands of God, that if he had to die, no precautions could save him. He would not agree to restricted entry to his prayer meetings or to anybody coming between his audience and himself. At the next day’s meeting he said that “the man who exploded the bomb obviously thinks that he has been sent by God to destroy me… He had taken it for granted that I am an enemy of Hinduism. When he says he was doing the bidding of God he is only making God an accomplice in a wicked deed. But it cannot be so… those who are behind him or whose tool he is, should know that this sort of thing will not save Hinduism. If Hinduism has to be saved it will be saved through such work as I am doing. I have been imbibing Hindu dharma right from my childhood” (CW vol 98: 279-81). On January 30, soon after he arrived at his prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse, editor of a Poona-based Marathi journal called Hindu Rashtra, fired three bullets at him at point-blank range and killed him.
On February 4, the Government of India declared the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh unlawful, noting that its members had “indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder.. carried on under a cloak of secrecy.” It accused the Sangh of “exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods.” The communique – that must have been vetted by Home Minister Sardar Patel - went on: “the cult of violence sponsored & inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The and most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. (D.R. Goyal 1979; Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, p.202)
The trial of eight conspirators including V.D. Savarkar took place through 1948. Godse made a speech stating his belief in in Savarkar’s ideal of Hindu nationalism, and his conviction that Gandhi was “a political and ethical imposter…a traitor to his faith and his country, a curse to India, a force for evil.., and the greatest enemy not only of Hindus, but of the whole nation.” Parts of the speech suggest that Godse saw himself as an agency of Lord Krishna. Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death in February 1949 and hanged in November. They went to the gallows shouting Akhand Bharat amar rahe, (Long Live United India) not realizing that a united India was also Gandhi’s dearest ideal. Unlike them, however, he did not believe that united India could be a Hindu Rashtra - an Indian version of Hitlers Reich. Five conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment, which in India those days meant fourteen years. Savarkar was acquitted for lack of evidence.
However, doubts remained about the extent of the conspiracy; the behaviour of the Bombay and Delhi police between January 20 and 30; and the evidence of V.D. Savarkar’s involvement. In 1965, the Government of India set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi, headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court. It examined evidence not produced during the trial, including the testimony of Savarkar's bodyguard Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary Gajanan Vishnu Damle. Had they testified in 1948, Savarkar would have been convicted. The evidence confirmed Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Commission that they visited Savarkar again on or about January 23, upon their return from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle stated that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar “in the middle of January and sat with him in his garden.” Justice Kapur's findings were clear. He noted the deadly negligence of the police. And he concluded that the facts taken together undermined “any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”
Gandhi died standing up, with God’s name on his lips, just as he had wanted to. He had always said that he was prepared to die for his beliefs. His death could have been prevented. Who can say what would have happened if he had been allowed to perform his padyatra to Pakistan? But it was not to be. “In the eyes of too many officials, he was an old man who had outlived his usefulness: he had become expendable. By negligence, by indifference, by deliberate desire on the part of many faceless people, the assassination had been accomplished. It was a new kind of murder – the permissive assassination, and there may be many more in the future” (Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi; 647).
In February 2003, the Indian Union’s highest officials unveiled a portrait of V.D. Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament. Knowingly or otherwise our leaders and representatives have hailed and honoured the man who was a prime accused in the Gandhi murder case. They continue to do so till this day. When we realise that independent India's criminal justice system was inaugurated by a denial of justice to Gandhi, we need not be surprised at its steady deterioration ever since. REFERENCE: The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: Inquiry Commission Report (1969)Friday, March 30, 2012 http://dilipsimeon.blogspot.in/2012/03/report-of-commission-of-inquiry-into.html