by Shamsul Islam — August 21, 2019
In a shocking development the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with the Savarkar’s on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. This clubbing of busts of Bhagat Singh and Netaji with VD Savarkar is tantamount to 2nd killing of the 2 great martyrs who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular Republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India. The contemporary documents are witness to the fact that while Bhagat Singh and Netaji fought against the repressive British rule and the two-nation theory, as Savarkar brazenly sided with the British rulers and the Muslim League in order to defeat the all-inclusive freedom struggle.
‘Veer’ Savarkar Submitted FIVE Mercy Petitions
The most shameful and shocking part of this combination of busts is that whereas Bhagat Singh and Netaji never subjected to the diktats of the colonial masters, never repented and never sought mercy this Hindutva ‘Veer’ submitted in all five mercy petitions in 1911, 1913, 1914, 1918 and 1920.[i] This ‘Veer’ though sentenced for 50 years (in 1910-1911), was in the Cellular Jail for less than 10 years and was finally released in 1924 from Yerwada Jail in Maharashtra. Thus he was able to secure remission of more than 35 years. There were hundreds of other revolutionaries who in the Cellular Jail and other jails remained incarcerated for full terms of their convictions. There were, of course, martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Chandershekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Roshan Singh who neither begged for mercy nor were shown any leniency. There was also large number of Ghadarite revolutionaries and Bengal revolutionaries who refused “to plead with the British authorities for mercy. Nor did they agree to give up their struggle for India’s liberty in exchange of their own personal liberty.”[ii]
How Savarkar Backstabbed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
When Netaji during World War II was trying to secure foreign support for liberation of the country and trying to organise a military attack on the northeast of the country which finally culminated in the formation of ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ (Indian National Army), it was Savarkar who offered full military cooperation to the British masters. While addressing 23rd session of Hindu Mahasabha at Bhagalpur in 1941, he said:
“The war which has now reached our shores directly constitutes at once a danger and an opportunity which both render it imperative that the militarization movement musts be intensified and every branch of the Hindu Mahasabha in every town and village must actively engage itself in rousing the Hindu people to join the army, navy, the aerial forces and the different war-craft manufactories.”[iii]
To what extent Savarkar was willing to help the British would be clear by the following words of his:
“So far as India’s defence is concerned, Hindudom must ally unhesitatingly, in a spirit of responsive co-operation with the war effort of the Indian government in so far as it is consistent with the Hindu interests, by joining the Army, Navy and the Aerial forces in as large a number as possible and by securing an entry into all ordnance, ammunition and war craft factories…Again it must be noted that Japan’s entry into the war has exposed us directly and immediately to the attack by Britain’s enemies. Consequently, whether we like it or not, we shall have to defend our own hearth and home against the ravages of the war and this can only be done by intensifying the government’s war effort to defend India. Hindu Mahasabhaits must, therefore, rouse Hindus especially in the provinces of Bengal and Assam as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.”[iv]
Savarkar’s total support to the British war efforts when leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose were trying to chalk out a strategy to throw out the British rule from India through armed struggle was the result of a well-thought-out Hindutva design. It was in Madura (22nd session of the Hindu Mahasabha, 1940) that he made his choice clear. His support to the British rested on the logic that “it is altogether improbable that in this war England will be defeated so disastrously as to get compelled to hand over her Indian Empire, lock, stock and barrel into German hands”[v] thus believing in the invincibility of the British Empire.
It was not as if Savarkar was unaware of the strong resentment which was brewing in the ranks of common Indians against such an approach. He brushed aside any criticism of Hindu Mahasabha’s decision of co-operating with the British in war efforts as,
“political folly into which the Indian public is accustomed to indulge in thinking that because Indian interests are opposed to the British interests in general, any step in which we join hands with the British government must necessarily be an act of surrender, anti-national, of playing into the British hands and that co-operation with the British government in any case and under all circumstances is unpatriotic and condemnable.”[vi]
Savarkar spent the next few years in organizing recruitment camps for the British armed forces which were to slaughter the cadres of INA in different parts of North-East later. The Madura conference of Hindu Mahasabha concluded with the adoption of an ‘immediate programme’ which stressed “to secure entry for as many Hindus recruits as possible into army, navy and the air forces”.[vii] He also informed them that through the efforts of Hindu Mahasabha alone, one lakh Hindu’s were recruited in the British armed forces in one year. It is to be noted that during this period RSS continued inviting Savarkar to address the RSS youth gatheringsfor motivating the latter to recruit into the British armed forces.
His call to the Hindus had no ambiguity: “Let the Hindus therefore come forward now and enter the army, the navy and the air-forces, the ordnance and other war-crafts factories in their thousands and millions.”[viii] Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar’s leadership organised high-level Boards in different regions of the country to help the Hindus seeking recruitment in the British armed forces. We come to know through the following words of Savarkar that these Boards were in direct contact with the British government. Savarkar informed the cadres,
“To deal with the difficulties and the grievances which the Hindu recruits to the Army find from time to time, a Central Northern Hindu Militarization Board has been formed by the Hindu Mahasabha at Delhi with Mr. Ganpat Rai, B.A., L.L.B Advocate, 51, Panchkuin Road, New Delhi, as convener. A Central Southern Hindu Militarization Board is also formed under the Chairmanship or Mr. L.B. Bhopatkar, M.A., LL.B., President Maharashtra Provincial Hindusabha, Sadashiv Peth Poona. All complaints or applications for information etc. should be addressed by those Hindus who want to enter the forces or have already enlisted themselves in them, to the above addresses. Sir Jwala Prasad Shrivastav; Barrister Jamnadasji Mehta, Bombay; Mr. V.V. Kalikar, M.L.C., Nagpur and other members on the National Defence Council or the Advisory War Committee will certainly try their best to get these difficulties removed so far as possible when they are forwarded by these Militarization Boards on to them.”[ix]
This clearly shows that the British Government had accommodated leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha on its official war committees. Those who declare Savarkar as a great patriot and freedom fighter must bow their heads in shame when they read the following instruction from Savarkar to those Hindus who were to join the British forces:
“One point however must be noted in this connection as emphatically as possible in our own interest that those Hindus who join the Indian [read the British] Forces should be perfectly amenable and obedient to the military discipline and order which may prevail there provided always that the latter do not deliberately aim to humiliate Hindu Honour.”[x]
The British Government was in regular touch with Savarkar so far as the organisation of its highest war bodies was concerned. It included individuals whose names were proposed by Savarkar. This is made clear from the following thanksgiving telegram Savarkar sent to the British government. Bhide’s volume tells us that,
“The following Telegram was sent by Barrister V.D. Savarker [sic], the President of the Hindu Mahasabha to (1) General Wavell, the Commander in-Chief; and (2) the Viceroy of India on the 18th instant (July 18, 1941).
YOUR EXCELLENCY’S ANNOUNCEMENT DEFENCE COMMITTEE WITH ITS PERSONNEL IS WELCOME. HINDUMAHASABHA VIEWS WITH SPECIAL SATISFACTION APPOINTMENT OF MESSERS KALIKAR AND JAMNADAS MEHTA.”[xi] [As per the original text.]
It is important to note here that even the Muslim League, sub-serving the interests of the British rulers, refused to join Defence Committees established by the government as done by Savarkar.
Savarkar Believed In Two-Nation Theory & Formed Coalition Governments with the Muslim League
Savarkar openly opposed the dream of Bhagat Singh and Netaji of a free democratic-secular India. On the contrary he demanded an exclusive Hindu nation and chalked out his Two-nation theory long before the Muslim League. While addressing the 19th Session of Hindu Mahasabha at Ahmedabad in 1937, he said:
“As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India. Several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so. These our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities. That is why they are impatient of communal tangles and attribute them to communal organizations. But the solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and Moslems… Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. 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.”[xii]
The fact should not be missed that Muslim League passed its Pakistan resolution in 1940 only. Savarkar, the great philosopher and guide of RSS, not only propagated Two-Nation Theory long before but entered into alliances with Muslim League in order to break ‘Quit India Movement’. While delivering Presidential address to the 24th session of Hindu Mahasabha at Cawnpore (Kanpur) in 1942, he defended hobnobbing with the Muslim League in the following words,
“In practical politics also the Mahasabha knows that we must advance through reasonable compromises. Witness the fact that only recently in Sind, the Sind-Hindu-Sabha on invitation had taken the responsibility of joining hands with the League itself in running coalition Government. The case of Bengal is well known. Wild Leaguers whom even the Congress with all its submissiveness could not placate grew quite reasonably compromising and socialable as soon as they came in contact with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Coalition Government, under the premiership of Mr. Fazlul Huq and the able lead of our esteemed Mahasabha leader Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji, functioned successfully for a year or so to the benefit of both the communities. Moreover further events also proved demonstratively that the Hindu Mahasabhaits endeavoured to capture the centres of political power only in the public interests and not for the leaves and fishes of the office.”[xiii]
It is to be noted that in this coalition government Syama Prasad Mukherjee, second in command of the Hindu Mahasabha was Deputy Premier. Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League also formed a coalition government in NWFP also.
With these irrefutable facts from history, even available in the Hindutva organizations’ archives, the appearance of Savarkar bust with the great martyrs only means second killing of the latter.
Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates:
[ii] Manini Chatterjee, ‘The Kala Pani story’ The Indian Express, September 21, 2004.
[iii]Cited in Savarkar, V. D., Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan, vol. 6, Maharashtra Prantik Hindusabha, Poona, 1963, pp. 460-61.
[iv]Ibid., p. 460.
[v]Ibid., p. 419.
[vi]Ibid., p. 428.
[vii]Ibid., p. 439.
[ix]Ibid., p. xxvii.
[x]Ibid., p. xxviii.
[xi]Ibid, p. 451.
[xii] Samagar Savarkar Wangmaya (Collected Works of Savarkar), Hindu Mahasabha, Poona, 1963, p.296
[xiii] Ibid, pp. 479-480, Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League also ran a coalition government in North-Western Frontier Province.