PAVAN KULKARNI - Savarkar, a Staunch Supporter of British Colonialism / How Savarkar Escaped Conviction For Gandhi’s Assassination

How Did Savarkar, a Staunch Supporter of British Colonialism, Come to Be Known as ‘Veer’?
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) – mythologised in popular imagination as ‘Veer Savarkar’ – not only refrained from participating in the freedom struggle after the British released him from prison on account of his relentless pleas for mercy, but also actively collaborated with the English rulers to whom he had declared his loyalty. At the time when Subhas Chandra Bose was raising his Indian National Army to confront the British in India, Savarkar helped the colonial government recruit lakhs of Indians into its armed forces. He further destabilised the freedom movement by pushing his Hindutva ideology, which deepened the communal divide at a time when a united front against colonial rule was needed. Post independence, Savarkar was also implicated in Mahatma Gandhi’s murder. 

Such is the man who was declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be “the true son of Mother India and inspiration for many people”, in his Twitter salutation to Savarkar on his birth anniversary on May 28 last year. In 2015, commemorating Savarkar on his 132nd birth anniversary, the prime minister bowed before a portrait of the Hindutva icon in remembrance of “his indomitable spirit and invaluable contribution to India’s history”. Finance minister Arun Jaitley was quick to follow up on the act. “Today, on birth anniversary of Veer Savarkar, let us remember & pay tribute to this great freedom fighter & social-political philosopher,” he tweeted. And somewhere in the stream of Twitter accolades from numerous BJP ministers that followed, the TV anchor Rajdeep Sardesai joined the chorus, albeit with a caveat. While he disagreed “with his ideology”, Sardesai said he honoured Savarkar’s “spirit as freedom fighter”… read more

How Savarkar Escaped Conviction For Gandhi’s Assassination
Five months after India’s independence, on January 14, 1948, three members of the Hindu Mahasabha – Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte and Digambar Badge, an arms dealer regularly selling weapons to the Mahasabha – arrived at Savarkar Sadan in Bombay.
Apte and Godse were among the very few who “had the right to move immediately past that room up a flight of stairs to the personal quarters of the dictator of the Hindu Rashtra Dal,” according to Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre’s book, Freedom at Midnight, written based on information acquired from in-depth interviews and extensive research of official documents including police records.

Badge, who did not have such unrestricted access to Savarkar, was told to wait outside. Apte took from him the bag containing gun-cotton slabs, hand grenades, fuse wires and detonators, and went inside with Godse. When the duo returned to Badge after 5-10 minutes, Apte was still carrying with him the bag of weapons, which he asked Madanlal Pahwa – an angry Punjabi refugee who had come from Pakistan after partition – and his seth, Mahasabha member Vishnu Karkare, to carry with them to Delhi. Both Pahwa and Karkare had already visited Savarkar before Godse and Apte arrived at Savarkar Sadan with the weapons that day… read more

Also see
The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

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