Monday, 23 February, 2009

Savarkar's photograph

I just finished Malgonkar's The Men Who Killed Gandhi, and it answers a question that has bothered me for nearly three decades now: How was Savarkar acquitted for lack of evidence when there was a photograph of him with the other conspirators? The books that have the photograph, and few that cover the incident don't, make it seem that the decision was political. Savarkar was too big to hang. 

Malgonkar's book contains a sworn statement by Savarkar stating that the photograph was taken after the crime, by the CID. It was staged!  

Which means Savarkar's heirs can probably sue every publisher who has used the photograph for libel. For truth's sake, I wish they did.

PS: I showed this to a friend, who supports Savarkar, and he said something strange: "My father, in spite of being a Savarkarite, believes Savarkar was involved." 

Does he believe that the Savarkar was guilty and it was a blot on him; or does he believe that Savarkar did a good thing and got off too, which added to his credit? I didn't ask. 

I did however look up Savarkar on-line and soon found savarkar.org. Its contents left me astounded. 

Under the section on Gandhi's murder, it had Savarkar's statement in his defence and among Savarkar's associates, it had pictures of Godse, Karkare and Apte, the three who hung. This is inexplicable by normal logic. 

In his statement, Savarker makes it abundantly clear that (a) he had no role in the murder (b) these three were not specially close to him and, perhaps most importantly, (c) he considered Gandhi a personal friend. Let me quote from Savarkar's statement:
"...in 1908 Gandhiji resided in “India House” in London owned by the well-known personality, Pandit Shyamji Krishnavarma, and placed under my management and led by me; how Gandhiji and myself lived together as friends and worked together as compatriots, how later on he paid a personal visit with his wife to me and my family and spent hours in happy talks about our old comradeship and current politics. I would not waste the time of the Court in telling how Gandhiji wrote now and then kind notes about me in 'Young India' too... Enough to say that in spite of fundamental differences in our ideologies on some points and in virtue of close affinity on others, there ever continued a mutual respect for and a personal goodwill to each other." (Highlighting mine.)

Savarkar includes several press notes on Gandhi to support this. 

Surely it'd be idiotic to suggest that Savarkar was unaware of his supporters' fanatic devotion to him and did not mean what he wrote; that he was building a cynical defence all along, plotting Gandhi's murder! 

It'd probably be correct to say, in the light of Savarkar's own statement, that he did not want any credit (if such a word can be used) from his friend's murder. Yet, his followers at savarkar.org include the three convicted murderers among his associates. 

Why? 

Because they were, in fact, associated with his organisation? And because they were inspired by him? 

But this goes against Savarkar's own logic, as mentioned in his statement: 
"Many criminals cherish high respect and loyalty to the Gurus and guides of their religious sects and profess to follow their tenets. But could ever the complicity of the Guru or guide in the crimes those of his followers be inferred and held proved only on the ground of the professions of loyalty and respect to their Gurus of those criminals? Numerous persons accused of crime have a close association with and cherish reverence for their parents, brothers and relations and subscribe obedience in their letters to them. But are those relatives ever held as accomplices in law with the accused only on the strength of an interference that the accused who were so obedient to them must have consulted them in committing the crime too? Or, are political leaders alone to be held as hostages in the hands of the police and accountable for the crime of any one of their numerous followers who happened to respect and revere them sometime or some way? Does it not often happen that some of the followers do actually try to exploit the moral influence of the leaders to further their activities which the leader had never sanctioned? In 1942 in the 'Quit India' movement some leading workers who had been close associates of Gandhiji as Congressmen and respected him, resorted to underground violence. I am not concerned here with the question whether such an underground movement against a foreign domination was or was not justified. It is enough to say that Mahatma Gandhi condemned all underground violence. But masses resorted under the lead of those workers to arson, sabotage and bloodshed shouting all the while “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai”. But even the British Government did not put Gandhiji in the dock for their crime simply because the masses respected him and were doing those very criminal acts shouting “Gandhiji ki jai”, and therefore they must have had consulted him! In this very case, the Prosecution has examined some Gurus and guides as witnesses who told on oath that they had supplied incriminating and dangerous explosives to some of these accused and actually incited them to murderous crimes such as to take the life of Jinnah and Liaqat Ali who were till then Indian citizens during the very period of December–January last when this conspiracy is alleged to have been hatched. Nevertheless even such admittedly criminal association could not persuade the Prosecution to infer that the accused must have consulted these witnesses in this conspiracy to and that the latter also must be held as incriminated in this crime. I do not say that they should have been incriminated. But I do say that it is absurd and highly unfair that the same Prosecution should infer, nay, assert dogmatically that even the legitimate correspondence and association which Apte and Godse had with me years ago warrants the inference that they must have consulted me in this conspiracy and therefore I should be held as incriminated in it. I do not attribute motives. But the Prosecution evidence itself of the above nature, based only on 'must have been' and 'would nor have been' type of surmises, makes it abundantly clear that more hopeless the Prosecution grew in finding substantive and direct evidence to prove their case against me, the more helplessly and recklessly they fell back on absurd inferences and innuendoes for support to save their prestige which, rightly or wrongly, they felt was at stake." ( Highlighting mine.)

Now, I don't know what Savarkar did for the accused after the trial. I do know that Nathuram Godse's neice did marry Savarkar's nephew. And I do know that the fanatics behind savarkar.org must have a warped logic by which they eat their cake and have it too: Savarkar was acquitted yet may all credit of the deed come to him, and through him, to us. 

Otherwise, how can you count the murderers of your guru's friend among his associates? This is data masquerading as truth.

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