By Kritika Malik
Veer Savarkar, the famous “freedom fighter” and the former president of the Hindu Mahasabha died on 26th February 1966 as he committed “Atmahatya nahi Atmaarpan” by fasting himself to death at the age of 83.
Yesterday, we celebrated the 51st Purna Tithi of VD Savarkar. But the question stands, was he really a freedom fighter?
Savarkar was a leftist Hindu Leader. An atheist himself, he was still the leader of a religious communist group- Hindu Mahasabha. Hence to save himself from the backlash he coined the term “Hindutva”. Hindutva was the measure of a person’s Hindu-ness. And who is a Hindu, you ask?
According to VD Savarkar, a Hindu is a person who considers India to the land in which their religion originated.
Now, here comes the problem in his way of fighting for freedom. This Hindutva was a constant difference between Gandhi’s and Savarkar’s way of freedom struggle. While Gandhi’s agenda was Muslim inclusive.
The very definition of Savarkar’s Hindutva excluded Muslims and Christians from the equation.
Savarkar’s India was supposed to be much like Hitler’s Germany.
Our Veer Savarkar as he is popularly called wasn’t all that “veer”either. In his lifetime of 83 years, VD Savarkar was involved in three political murders.
On July 1, 1909, Madanlal Dhingra shot dead Sir William Curzon Wyllie.
Dhingra was arrested, tried in front of the court, found guilty and hanged for killing Wyllie, while Savarkar took no responsibility, for the plan (which later found evidence proves) he masterminded. Even the weapon of murder belonged to Savarkar and Dhingra was trained and mocked for his earlier incapability to assassinate the former Viceroy by VD Sarvakar.
On December 29, 1909, Anant Kanhere shot dead AMT Jackson, district magistrate of Nasik, who had committed Ganesh Savarkar to trial who was VD Savarkar’s elder brother.
Kanhere’s accomplices led the police to Savarkar and a warrant against him was charged which eventually resulted in him being bought back to India from London and given two life sentences in 1911.
During his prison sentence, Savarkar apologized profusely to the Britisher’s. His struggle for freedom was now just his(from the jail) instead of being the country’s. He went as far to say that he was ready to serve the government in any capacity and would guide the misled youth of the country who idolized him.
And just like that, he disowned the revolutionary movement. His plight was still denied.
The “Veer”encouraged his prison mates to go on hunger strikes but never participated himself, talk about taking the backseat, always. Even prisoners older than him went on these strikes, he initiated but never participated in, to avoid being sent to solitary confinement.
Few years forward, in 1921, Savarkar was sent from the Andaman Jail to the mainland jail in Pune from where he was released in 3 years on certain conditions, including the restriction on him in engaging in any political activity for the next five years which was subject to renewal.
Savarkar agreed, nevertheless. Pretty brave considering the humiliation it must have come with, shattering the bubble of his veerta.
Last but not the least, Savarkar was also a suspect for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was taken into custody.
In attempts to save himself again from imprisonment, Savarkar wrote a letter to the Bombay’s Commissioner of Police saying, “I shall refrain from taking part in any communal or political activity for any period the government may require in case I am released on that condition.”, which only made the doubt of the police on Savarkar’s involvement in the case stronger. He was released due to lack of evidence, eventually.
Nathuram Godse was tried for the assassination but VD Savarkar never vouched for his devoted follower.
He was never much for playing the main role or paying the price anyway.
The question again comes to you, THE READER. Do you think that the man was a freedom fighter, after all?
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