BHARAT RATNA FOR SAVARKAR : RSS/BJP IS ONLY REAFFIRMING THEIR ANTI-NATIONAL HERITAGE

VD Savarkar

BY DEMANDING BHARAT RATNA FOR SAVARKAR RSS/BJP IS ONLY REAFFIRMING THEIR ANTI-NATIONAL HERITAGE (PART 1: BEGGING MERCY FROM THE BRITISH MASTERS)

BJP;
the political appendage of the RSS on October 15, 2019 released its manifesto
for the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Apart from making miscellaneous
promises it made a specific promise to the Maharashtra voters that BJP would
secure Bharat Ratna, the highest national honour for the Hindutva icon, ‘Veer’
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and two of the greatest thinkers and warriors of
anti-Brahmanical Dalit resurgence, Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. It is
interesting that no such promise which has national ramifications was made in
the Haryana which also goes to the polls with Maharashtra.

This
Maharashtra promise is shocking for two major reasons. Firstly, Savarkar cannot
be honoured as a national hero with the anti-national and anti-humanity legacy
which he finally left behind. He did start as a fighter for an all inclusive
India but ended as a British stooge both ideologically and action wise. He
propounded the concept of Hindutva which was synonymous with Casteism,
subjugation to the British and Hindu separatism. Secondly, to tag Phules with
Savarkar is a huge insult to the former who lived and died for a Caste-free and
egalitarian society.  

BHARAT
RATNA TO SAVARKAR WILL AMOUNT TO DINEGRATION OF MARTYRS/PARTICIPANTS OF INDIAN
FREEDOM STRUGGLE

(1)
This Hindutva ‘Veer’ wrote not one or two mercy petitions but six mercy
petitions (1911, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1918 and 1920) to
the British masters begging forgiveness for his
revolutionary past. A perusal of parts of the two mercy petitions will prove to
what lower depths this ‘Veer’ consigned himself before the British rulers.

The
1913 petition ended with the following words:

“I am ready to serve the Government
in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my
future conduct would be. By keeping me in jail nothing can be got in comparison
to what would be otherwise. The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and
therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of
the Government? Hoping your Honour will kindly take into notion these
points.”[i]

His
mercy petition of 1920 was also a comprehensive one which offered total
surrender. It submitted:

“Whether you
believe it or not, I am sincere in expressing my earnest intention of treading
the constitutional path and trying my humble best to render the hands of the
British dominion a bond of love and respect and of mutual help. Such an Empire,
as is foreshadowed in the Proclamation, wins my hearty adherence. For verily I
hate no race or creed or people simply because they are not Indians!”

He went on to promise that

if
the Government wants a further security from me then I and my brother are
perfectly willing to give a pledge of not participating in politics for a
definite and reasonable period that the Government would indicate…of
remaining in a particular province or reporting our movements to the police for
a definite period after our release – any such reasonable conditions meant
genuinely to ensure the safety of the State would be gladly accepted by me and
my brother… The brilliant prospects of my early life all but too soon blighted,
have constituted so painful a source of regret to me that a release would be a
new birth and would touch my heart, sensitive and submissive, to kindness so
deeply as to render me personally attached and politically useful in future.
For often magnanimity wins even where might fails.
[ii]

NOTHING WRONG IN WRITING MERCY
PETITIONS

It is true that there was nothing
wrong on part of the Cellular Jail detainees in writing petitions to the
British officials. It was, in fact, an important legal right available to the
prisoners. There were other revolutionaries in the Cellular Jail who, too,
wrote petitions to the British Government. 
Apart from Savarkar, Hrishi Kesh Kanjilal, Barindra Kumar Ghose and Nand
Gopal also wrote petitions. However, these were only Savarkar and Barindra
Ghose (Aurobindo Ghose’s brother) who pleaded to renounce their revolutionary
past in order to secure personal freedom.

Tilak who was serving a six year
term (1908-1914) at Mandalay Jail (then in Burma) also wrote two mercy
petitions (February 12, 1912 and August 5, 1912) but instead of seeking
forgiveness for his seditious acts simply made the following identical request:

“That as a
matter of grace the petitioner now seeks to obtain His Majesty’s merciful
consideration of his case. He has undergone 2/3rds, or four out of six years’
term of his sentence, is now 56 years old, and is suffering for a long time
from chronic diabetes; while his family affairs have been brought to a sad
crisis by a heavy bereavement which he has recently suffered…The petitioner,
therefore, humbly and loyally prays that His Majesty may be graciously pleased
to grant…the unexpired portion of the petitioner’s sentence may be remitted by
pardon or a remission…”[iii]

The total
surrender to the British masters bore results. His two life time sentences of
50 years at the Cellular Jail were reduced to less than 13 years, spending less
than 10 years at the Cellular Jail. Moreover, despite ban on his political
activities he was allowed to organize the Hindu Mahasabha in order to break the
united freedom struggle. He was the only beneficiary of such large-heartedness
of the British masters in the history of the Cellular Jail!

SHOULD THE PEOPLE OF INDIA ALLOW SUCH A FAKE VEER SAVARKAR TO BE HONOURED AS BHARAT RATNA?

Shamsul Islam

OCTOBER 18, 2019


[i] Cited in R. C.
Majumdar, Penal Settlement in Andamans,
Government of India, Delhi, 1975, pp. 211-213.  

[ii]
National Archives, Delhi. Also reproduced by A. G. Noorani, ‘Savarkar’s Mercy
Petition’, Frontline, 12-15 March 2005.

[iii] India Office Library, London.

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