Life story of Veer Savarkar

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The Storm Breaks    

The bursting point of British repression was reached. The zero hour had struck. The choice of the Abhinava Bharata fell on Madanlal Dhingra. Talking of him, one day someone taunted him by saying that the Japanese were the bravest people in Asia. Dhingra had retorted that his Hindu nation was no less. Perhaps his time had come said S. Dhingra then joined a club, which highly placed Englishmen attended? There he learnt to shoot and gained closer knowledge of men like Lord Curzon and Morley. The former responsible for the Partition of Bengal, was Dhingra’s target but Curzon escaped.

Determined to avenge the atrocities committed by the Brits in India, Dhingra decided to kill an equally important man in Sir William Curzon Wyllie. So on 30/6/1909, S gave Dhingra a nickleplated revolver and said “Don’t show me your face if you fail this time”. Dhingra did not let S down, he shot Wyllie considered to be the eye and brain of the Indian Office. Dhingra was arrested and put in Brixton jail.

The incident shook London to its narrow! India was everywhere. Dhingra was disowned by his brother and father was ashamed of him. Assembled at Caxton Hall, a group comprising of Aga Khan, Surendranath Baneerjee, Khaparde and B.C. Pal and others declared “The meeting unanimously condemns Madanlal Dhingra”. Just then a voice said “No, not unanimously”. The chairman said “Who says no? “I say no, it is me, My name is Savarkar”. Fearing that the revolutionaries would bomb the meeting, a Eurasian struck a blow on S’s forehead making his face smear with blood. S Baneerjee left the hall protesting against the cowardly act on S. Sympathy with S, the police could not touch him. The revolutionaries in London got angry with B.C. Pal for calling Dhingra a cowardly assassin. That very night S dictated a letter to the London Times where he silenced all criticism against him by saying that Dhingra’s matter being subjudice, the meeting had no right to usurp the powers of the court and condemn Dhingra in advance. Moreover, S had a right to record his vote.

Thus this meeting S tested the stuff of the leader of revolution and his knowledge of law. In India Dhingra’s brave act was criticized by the types of N.C. Kelkar and Gokhale. Hyndman, Father of British Socialism wrote that though he condemned the means adopted by Dhingra, unfortunately, the accusations leveled by Dhingra against the British govt were true. Newspapers now directly attacked S as the fountainhead of the tragedy. In India his relations and colleagues were persecuted. Students proceeding to London had to produce certificates from their local Governments.

Though S passed the final examination of the Gray’s Inn, the Benchers of his Inn refused to call S and Harnam Singh to the Bar. A Committee was appointed to decide the issue. It said that S would be called to the Bar provided he gave them a written undertaking that he would not participate in politics. S rejected it; he was there to liberate Bharat, period.

S was now on the verge of physical collapse. For the past four years he had worked with phenomenal energy. After the Wyellie incident, Indian House was closed down. He started staying with B.C. Pal but angry crowds stormed Pal’s residence. S thought it wise to leave. Homeless, friendless, starved, stranded, shadowed by detectives, he wandered from lodge to lodge for shelter. At last a German lady gave him refuge for some days.

Tired, S went to Brighton, a seaside town for a change. In the company of Niranjan Pal S said, “Take me O Ocean! Take me to my native shores. Thou promised me to take me home. But thee coward, afraid of thy mighty master, Britain, thou hast betrayed me. But mind my mother is not altogether helpless. She will complain to sage Agasti and in a draught he will swallow thee as he did in the past”. Several literary men of Maharashtra have held this poem to be an unparalled poem on patriotism.

Even at Brighton, S lay not quiet. He had to publish Dhingra’s statement that was suppressed by the police. He used comrade Varma to post it from Paris to different American and Irish papers and got friend David Garett to publish it in the Daily News. Excerpts “As a Hindu, I feel that a wrong done to my country is an insult to God”. The police were baffled, how did S get a third copy, the others being with the cops, Dhingra.

Dhingra was hanged but his deeds, fearlessness, dignity thrilled the world. However, Nehru was warned by his father against going there and kept silent over this thrilling episode even in his autobiography.

The hot discussions in India House and S’s fiery speeches were too hot for visiting Indian leaders. Gandhi had discussions with S since 1906, met him in London in October 1909 but it was an ideological conflict between the promising Gautam and the spirited Shivaji. Gandhi arrogated the religion of God to himself and imputed irreligion of the devil to all those who opposed him. Said S” We feel no special love for secret organizations or surprise and secret warfare. We hold that whenever open preaching and practicing of truth is banned by enthrone violence, then alone secret societies and warfare are justified to combat violence by force”.

The discussions Gandhi had with S, had left a touch of bitterness. During his return journey at the end of 1908, G attacked the Indian revolutionaries in London and indirectly S. The ideological conflict between the two started in the first decade of the 20th century.

Minto was trying to crush the forces of seditious agitation with new measures. But the revolutionary movement was spreading fast, Gwalior, Satara and a few small factories of bombs were unearthed in Maharashtra. S’s brother Babarao was sentenced to transportation for life in June 1909. S wrote to his wife and sis in law a beautiful letter that has since then been a charm for Maharashtrian womanhood.

In S one finds a doer and a dreamer. He had the power of the pen and pistol, an unusual combination. It is no wonder that his writings and ballads inspired soldiers and patriots to fight the battle of freedom-from Rajaji, Roy, Bhagat Singh, Kher, and I.N.A.

S got admission into the Library of the India, read heaps of original letters, manuscripts and referred to books in the British Museum too. He read Rajanikant’s Sepoys Mutiny in Bengali. After an 18-month study, he completed in April 1908 his monumental work in Marathi, The First War of Independence of 1857. S sent the manuscript to his brother Babarao in Nasik where the Brits tried to seize the manuscript but failed. In England the Scotland Yard tried hard to get the manuscript. But S eluded the police and detectives to get the book published in Holland in 1909. The book reached India, America, China, Japan wrapped in specially printed covers bearing names like Pickwick Papers. It inspired the second and third wars of independence in 1914 and 1943 (Subhash C Bose).

Wrote K.F. Nariman “The idea of the I.N.A. and particularly the Rani of Jhansi segment seems to have originated from S’s proscribed publication on the 1857 Mutiny”. Reviewing the great work, P.K. Atre, a typical Maharashtrian author and journalist, opined that Maharashtra did not produce a greater genius than S ever since the great Dnyaneshwar.

After Dhingra’s martyrdom threats to S grew louder. In India his supporter were persecuted. Owing to stress and strain, S’s health broke down. He was removed to a sanitarium in Wales. Since his life was feared to be in danger, he left London for Paris at the beginning of January 1910. S now carried on his propaganda from Paris. But he was moved by the tragic news of the persecution of his followers.

It was found in the Jackson murder trial that S was the spirit behind India House and the leader of the Abhinava Society which had sent pistols, one of which was used to kill Jackson. (The British Collector of Nasik). George Clarke the new Governor of Mumbai decided that to maintain order, prosecution of S was necessary. He built up a case, a warrant was granted by Bow Street Court, London in February 1910. The charges against S were waging war against His Majesty, distributing arms amongst others. To avoid the persecution and demoralization of his followers, S decided to return to London in 1910, just like Shivaji went to Agra.

In 1910, S was arrested in England for the speeches he made in India in 1906! What a marvel this British process of law. The most developed nation in the world, then! Gallows now stared S in the face. He wrote his will and sent it to his sister-in-law. The Savarkar family was undergoing trying times. Babarao was sentenced to transportation for life, the younger brother was arrested in the Nasik conspiracy case and S was in jail. Further his little son had passed away in 1909.

On 23/4/1910, the Magistrate gave decision that S should be sent to India for trial where the Indian govt had set up a special tribunal for his trial. Meanwhile sometime in May 1910, Irish and Indian revolutionaries attempted at rescuing S but the plan leaked out, failed. Now, S was on the eve of being extradited to India.

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