Savarkar’s case is unique, shocking, and painful for all patriots, and well- meaning people. He suffered the most and brutally in the British jails (Kaalapani). As if that was not enough, independent India under Nehru again threw him into jail by framing a false case, and defamed him!

What did Savarkar get for all his sacrifices? Humiliation! It was doubly humiliating because the humiliation was inflicted not by the British, but by Independent India—that too by framing false charges against him. What could be worse? Top Gandhian leaders who suffered the least in the British jails (Blunder#13) leveraged all their “sacrifices” to grab power and pelf post-independence, but people like Savarkar who gave their all (and who were far more erudite, wise and capable than most top Gandhians) were humiliated, defamed, ignored and forgotten.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883–1966), aka Swatantryaveer Savarkar, was a freedom fighter, poet, writer, playwright, forceful orator, rationalist, atheist, and reformer, who vigorously advocated end of Hindu caste-system, and strongly disapproved of orthodox Hindu beliefs and practices. He built the Patit Pavan Mandir in Ratnagiri, open to the all, including Dalits. A section of orthodox Brahmins of Maharashtra opposed his reform; but he earned praise and respect from Dr BR Ambedkar. Savarkar was a multi- talented personality, who had also coined the terms that have been in common usage since: ‘Chitrapat’, ‘Doordarshan’, ‘Nirdeshak’, ‘Sampadak’, ‘Mahapaur’, ‘Parshad’, etc.

Savarkar became a revolutionary while a student in India and England. In London, he was associated with the ‘India House’ set up by the revolutionary Shyamji Krishna Varma. He founded ‘Abhinav Bharat Society’ and the ‘Free India Society’. He also brought out publications espousing the cause of complete independence of India by revolutionary means. His famous book ‘1857—First War of Independence’ had so much rattled the British that they had put a ban on it, confiscating all its copies within six months of its release.

Arrested in 1910 for his revolutionary activities, he made a daring attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles, France. With constable waiting outside, Savarkar entered the toilet, broke the window, wriggled out somehow, and jumped into the ocean from a sailing ship to swim his way to Marseilles port. His friends (including Madam Bhikaiji Cama) were supposed to pick him up there, but they were late by a few minutes, and the French Police caught him and returned him to the British cops—chained and under stricter watch.

He was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totalling fifty years! He was imprisoned in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Kaalapani), and treated cruelly and inhumanly—in sharp contrast to the VIP treatment accorded to Gandhi, Nehru, and the top Gandhians in jails. He must have been the first poet in the world to have been deprived of pen and paper in a jail—while Nehru wrote all his books in jails, having been provided with liberal and conducive facilities by the British jailers. Savarkar improvised and used thorns and nails to compose his writings on prison walls.

Notably, VD Savarkar’s elder brother, Babarao Savarkar, was also a revolutionary who was lodged in the Cellular Jail in Kaalapani. His younger brother too was a revolutionary. It was a family of brave patriots and revolutionaries.

Shahid Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad were admirers of the Savarkar family, and drew inspiration from them. Revolutionary Madanlal Dhingra who shot Sir Wyllie in London in 1909 after a failed assassination attempt on the then Viceroy Lord Curzon was a keen follower of Savarkar.

Savarkar was elected president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, and served in that post till 1943. After the Muslim League’s Pakistan Resolution of 1940 Savarkar could foresee the problems ahead for Hindus in India, and wanted Hindus to be militarily well-equipped. Therefore, rather than the ‘Quit India 1942’, Savarkar gave a call to the Hindus to take advantage of the opportunity of getting militarily trained by joining the army in the British war effort in WW-II. Fortunately, a very large number of Hindus responded to Savarkar’s call, and joined the British army—finally making it Hindu-majority from its earlier position of Muslim-majority. That helped tremendously after partition and independence, providing a large army to India, the Muslims in the army having mostly opted for Pakistan. Unlike Gandhi and Nehru, Savarkar knew what a country of the size of India needed to defend itself. Dr Ziauddin Ahmed, the then VC of AMU, had indeed raised an alarm on the increasing number of Hindus enlisting in the armed forces, thereby reducing the proportion of Muslims. But for Savarkar’s whirlwind recruitment drive during WW-II, Pakistan, after partition, would have had 60–70% of the soldiers, enough to overwhelm India in the border areas in a conflict—this debt to Savarkar is sadly unacknowledged.

’Quit India’, which Savarkar opposed, fetched nothing for India or the Congress in real terms, fizzled out in two months, and proved counter- productive (for details, please check Blunder#12, and the book “Sardar Patel: The Best PM India Never Had” available on Amazon)—while it drove the British to be fiercely anti-India, anti-Hindu, and anti-Congress; it made them even more pro-Muslim, pro-Muslim League and pro-Pakistan, which ultimately resulted in the tragedy of Partition.

Hindu Mahasabha activists protested Gandhi holding talks with Jinnah in 1944, denouncing it as appeasement. Savarkar considered Gandhi a naive leader and a sissy. He stated that although Gandhi “babbled compassion and forgiveness”, he “has a very narrow and immature head”.
Savarkar was years ahead of Gandhi-Nehru on many counts. Gandhi, Nehru and the Congress gave a call for complete independence for India very late at the end of 1929, what Savarkar had called for way back in 1900! Bonfire of foreign clothes on which the Gandhians claim copyright was performed much earlier by Savarkar in 1905, later copied by Gandhi. Upon creation of Pakistan, Savarkar had rightly predicted: “Till a nation based on religious fanaticism exists beside India she won’t ever be able to live in peace.”

In the 1930s and later, when the Muslims of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) began migrating to Brahmaputra valley in Assam for livelihood, pooh-poohing the grave warnings from sane quarters, pseudo- secular, naive Nehru made an irresponsible statement: “Nature abhors vacuum, meaning where there is open space how can one prevent people from settling there?” Savarkar responded with his masterly prediction: “Nature also abhors poisonous gas. The migration of such large numbers of Muslims in Assam threatened not just the local culture but would also prove to be a national security problem for India on its north-east frontier.”

Savarkar, in a statement on 19 December 1947, heartily supported an independent Jewish state; and demanded restoration to the Jews their entire historical holy land and Fatherland of Palestine. Terming it as an appeasement to Muslims by Nehru, he expressed regret at India’s vote against the creation of the Jewish state at the UN (Blunder#54).

Noting China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950, and Nehru’s weak-kneed policy, Savarkar had predicted in 1954 itself: “After what China has done to Tibet, kowtowing to the Chinese would whet its appetite. I won’t be surprised if China feels emboldened to swallow Indian land tempted by India’s weak-kneed approach.”

Savarkar became a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress. No wonder an all-out attempt was made to falsely implicate him in the Gandhi Murder Case. Manohar Malgaonkar, after extensive research, published ‘The Men Who Killed Gandhi’ in 1977. He does not point to any guilt on Savarkar’s part. Here is an extract from the author’s introduction in the book:
“…Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s secret assurance to Mr. L.B. Bhopatkar, that his client, Mr V.D. Savarkar had been implicated as a murder-suspect on the flimsiest grounds. Then again, certain other pertinent details such as the ‘doctoring’ of a confession by a magistrate whose duty it was only to record what was said only came out in later years…”

Malgaokar’s book also states:
“…Why were the police so anxious to implicate Savarkar? Was it merely that, having failed in their proper function to arrest Nathuram before he killed Gandhi, they were making a bid to save face by raising the bogey of some sensational plot which involved a big leader who, providentially happened to be in bad odour with the government of the day? Or was that government itself, or some powerful group in it, using the police agency to destroy a rival political organization or at least to destroy a fiercely uncompromising opposition stalwart?
“Or, again, was the whole thing a manifestation of some form of phobia peculiar to India, religious, racial, linguistic, or provincial, that made Savarkar a natural target for the venom of some section of society?
“…Savarkar being made an accused in the Gandhi-murder trial may well have been an act of political vendetta. Of course, Badge [approver who implicated Savarkar], on his track record is a slippery character and not to be relied upon, but he was most insistent to me that he had been forced to tell lies, and that his pardon and future stipend by the police department in Bombay depended upon his backing the official version of the case and, in particular that, he never saw Savarkar talking to Apte, and never heard him telling them: ‘Yeshaswi houn ya.’
“…[Dr BR Ambedkar confided to Bhopatkar, Savarkar’s lawyer:] ‘There is no real charge against your client; quite worthless evidence has been concocted. Several members of the cabinet were strongly against it, but to no avail. Even Sardar Patel could not go against these orders. But, take it from me, there just is no case. You will win.’…”

It seems Nehru leveraged the emotions against the assassination of Gandhi to fix Savarkar, and ensured that no one came in the way—not even senior cabinet colleagues: they must have been wary lest they be accused or defamed of trying to protect an accomplice in Gandhi-assassination.

Malgaokar’s further wrote:
“…He [Savarkar] was sixty-four years old, and had been ailing for a year or more. He was detained on 6 February 1948, and remained in prison for the whole of the year which the investigation and the trial took. He was adjudged ‘not guilty’ on 10 February 1949. The man who had undergone twenty-six years of imprisonment or detention under the British for his part in India’s struggle for freedom was thus slung back into jail for another year the moment that freedom came…”

Appa Kasar, the bodyguard of Veer Savarkar was arrested by the police and tortured brutally—nails of his hands and toes were pulled out—to force his evidence against Savarkar.

It has been reported that in the wake of the assassination of Gandhi, and the rumours that got floated, a mob went on a rampage against Savarkar in Mumbai. Yet, the state government then under the Congress made no arrangements to ensure security for Savarkar (who was bed-ridden) and his kin. His family members and friends had to somehow defend his house using sticks when the mob attacked it. In the process, his younger brother Dr Narayanrao Savarkar (also a freedom fighter) was seriously injured, and later succumbed to his injuries.

Savarkar was arrested on 5 February 1948 but till 23 March (for 46 days) he was not allowed to meet his wife or his only son.

The ‘democratic’ and ‘freedom-loving’ ‘cultured’ Nehru tried to destroy all those who were opposed to him. Although the court acquitted Savarkar, he was so defamed that he could not rise again. After his acquittal, Savarkar was arrested by the government for making ‘militant Hindu nationalist speeches’, and was released after agreeing to give up political activities— what then was the difference between the British India and Nehru’s Independent India! Nehru had forbidden the Congress members to participate in any public function honouring Savarkar; and had refused to share the stage with him during the centenary celebrations of India’s First War of Independence (which was called so for the first time by none other than Savarkar in his book that was banned by the British).

Savarkar renounced medicines, food and water with effect from 1 February 1966, terming it as atmaarpan (fast until death). He died on 26 February 1966. Not a single minister from the Maharashtra or Central Cabinet showed up at the cremation ground to pay homage to Savarkar. The Speaker of the Parliament turned down a request that it pay homage to Savarkar.

After the death of Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, as PM, approved payment of monthly pension to Savarkar, like it was done for other freedom fighters. In 1970, Indira Gandhi’s government issued a postal stamp in honour of Veer Savarkar. The commemorative blue plaque on India House, London fixed by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England reads ‘Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 1883-1966 Indian patriot and philosopher lived here’. The airport at Port Blair, the capital of Andaman & Nicobar, has since been named as Veer Savarkar International Airport. It was in February 2003 when the NDA government was in power that the portrait of Swatantryaveer Savarkar was put up in the Central Hall of Parliament—Congress Party MPs boycotted the function, without ever offering a public explanation for their disgraceful behaviour. There has been a demand that Savarkar should be conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously.

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