Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray made a statement that Pakistan would not have come into existence had Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar been the country’s Prime Minister at the time, and demanded that he be awarded Bharat Ratna. Savarkar’s name gets dragged into heated political debates often, from Rahul Gandhi’s “defamatory” remarks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to the freedom fighter at Cellular Jail. Irrespective of Jawaharlal Nehru’s unique contribution to the making of modern India, he is a much-remembered and hated man today because of a purposefully twisted history touted over the decades by right-wingers. Savarkar advocated that an antagonist should be paid back in the same coin. So, in a nutshell, Savarkar’s supporters take an utterly defensive stance while defending him against assaults from his ideological rivals, thus leaving him virtually defenseless on issues that concern the future of the nation and to which Savarkar’s thoughts provide a solution. These days tampering history and making own propaganda narrations about freedom fighters has become new trend in modern politics.
Right wing supporters hate Nehru and Gandhi on the other hand liberals and Congress supporters disown Savarkar as freedom fighter. They have their own explanations by calling him coward and hater politician. Congress hatred for Veer Savarkar is also on same line, history often becomes incarcerated in the hands of ideological fanatics and hero worshippers. The ideological campaigners distort history as much as those resorting to hero worship. Both of them don’t want to tolerate an opposing view, howsoever, truthful it might be.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is one of the most misunderstood and falsely maligned personalities from Indian freedom struggle. Savarkar was a fearless freedom fighter mostly remembered in political circles for writing his seminal book ‘Essentials of Hindutva’ in Ratnagiri Jail. In 1923, Veer Savarkar remains largely unknown to the masses because of the vicious propaganda against him and misunderstanding around him that has been created over several decades
Episodes in life of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar before he was arrested and jailed in Cellular Jail justify the title VEER given to him.
In Maharashtra, he is a hero and unquestioned at that. Congress has ruled there for most of the 70 years and the leaders of Congress too extol Savarkar. He inspires because his life was like that. We grew up listening to his story of valour, his poetry (in form of songs) and documentaries on him. Savarkar was one of the revolutionaries of the early 1900s. He went to England in 1906 and started revolutionary activities there. He also wrote the book “History of War of Indian Independence” on the 1857 uprising. What was called mutiny till then began to be called the “First War of Independence”. His activities made him a wanted man (Madanlal Dhingra who killed Curzon Wylie was a close associate) and he went to France to escape arrest. He was arrested there in 1910 and was being taken to India by ship. He escaped from the toilet hole in the ship at Marseilles and swam through the sea to port. His friend who was to pick him up arrived late and hence the police caught him.
He was sent to India and sentenced to “Kala Pani” in Andaman. This was in 1911. This was the most inhuman, brutal jail sentence in the empire. He was kept in a small cell with no toilet, no human contact, beaten, tortured for days. He was made to pull the “kolhu” at the oil mill amidst whipping. He was given no books, or stuff to write. He composed many poems during that time and memorised all of them and wrote them down many years later. These are legends in Maharashtra and every child of the soil knows them. After 10 years of legal battle and persuasions, he was released from Andaman and sent to Ratnagiri jail where he was kept for four years. Then, he was released but put under house arrest for 12 more years with no movement allowed. So the man was in jail for 27 years in all. Would a coward, collaborator be kept in jail for 27 years? What sense does that make? Eventually, he was released on the assurance that he wouldn’t engage in politics. He turned to social service and the cause of Hindutva. He was a science affiliate, against the orthodoxy, championed many temple entry causes for Dalits. Hindutva was in response to the Muslim aggression, which started after the Khilafat movement and into movement for Pakistan. All predictions he made then came true and the problem we have is what we have. He lived till 1966 and was given a hero’s status by Indira Gandhi when he died. He was acquitted in Gandhi murder as Godse had left him when he murdered Gandhi was discouraged by Savarkar. Now from the above history, do you see a coward, turncoat, bigot and whatever else Congress and Left ecosystem says about him or do you see a revolutionary who went through lot of hardships and kept contributing till the end? One can easily say why did he try to defend himself in court, instead of confessing to all the charges.
There are other interesting facts about him. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had met Savarkar in Ratnagiri in late 1920s and drew inspiration from him before embarking on their revolutionary activity. Even Subhas Chandra Bose’s decision to leave India and join Japan-Germany axis in World War II was based on Savarkar’s advice that in international politics, one’s enemy’s enemy should be seen as a friend and befriended. The only leader who has lived up to an extent to Savarkar’s vision on foreign policy and national security so far is Indira Gandhi. And the only leader who can live up to it in future is, perhaps, Narendra Modi, based on his foreign vision so far. It’s high time people should stop spitting venom against freedom fighters in the name of new political revolution and tamper the history. Let it be Nehru, Gandhi or Savarkar, no one can deny his or her contribution towards independence moment of our country. Today we are breathing in free and independent country because of many such patriots and freedom fighters. There is no point in poking in history by changing the facts.
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