Life Story of VEER SAVARKAR Part 7

  • This part covers the period in the run up to partition period 1946-1947 and shows the Congress flip-flops on partition. Savarkar’s thoughts are as relevant today as they were then.

Part ONE covered childhood and college, revolutionary activities in London, epic escape & trial, period 1866 to 1911. Part TWO starts with his entry into Cellular Jail, education of fellow prisoners, preventing conversions to Islam, German efforts to rescue him, war against British by 8,000 predominantly Sikh revolutionaries. Lastly, release from jail & return to India. Part THREE covers Savarkar as a social reformer, rationalist & author and end of internment in 1937 with his unconditional release. Part FOUR covers whirlwind propaganda, war and militarization and Hindu Manifesto (includes Hindu Nation, What is Hindutva, Savarkar’s India and description of Flag designed by him). Part FIVE covers Savarkar’s attacks on Gandhi and Jinnah, Cripps Mission and increase in popularity of the Hindu Mahasabha. Part SIX consists of chapters ‘Writing on the Wall’ and ‘Fight for United India’, both deal with partition and period cover is 1934-35. 

Content herein is verbatim from book Veer Savarkar’ by well-known biographer Dhananjay Keer. Credits and copyright Popular Prakashan Private Limited. Keer was fortunate to study Savarkar closely and discuss with him his views and work. This has given the book a stamp of authority.

From Parity to Pakistan

The year 1946 opened with the general elections to the Provincial Legislatures all over India. Congressmen used the same old tactics and reiterated the pledge to a united India. On 14/1/1946, Patel said at Ahmedabad, “Granting Pakistan is not the hands of the British government. If Partition is to be achieved Hindus and Muslims would have to fight. There will be a civil war.” Such fiery speeches of the Congress were similar to those of the Hindu Mahasabha. It overran the Hindu Mahasabha in the elections.

Meanwhile anti-British feelings reached a climax. Even the army was feeling the pangs of freedom. On 15/3/1946, PM Attlee, declared India’s right to full independence within or without the British Commonwealth and said, “We cannot allow a minority to place their veto on the advance of the majority”. The British Cabinet mission reached Delhi on March 24. Nehru thundered on April 5, “The Congress is not going to agree to the Muslim demand for Pakistan under any circumstances, even if the British agree to it”. 

Note that in the early to mid-forties the Congress kept on wooing the League with various offers strengthening its demand for partition and now in 1946 talked against Partition. The Muslims like Suhwardy and Firoz Noon warned the havoc that the Muslims would do in the country that would put into the shade what Chengizkhan had done.  

Savarkar returned to Pune. Along with Dr Mookherjee he submitted a memorandum before the Mission that partition of India would be economically unsound and disastrous, politically unwise and suicidal.

The Mission came out with a new proposal known as the ‘State Paper of May 16’. It repudiated Jinnah’s claim for the division of India, contemplated a Central Union with powers restricted to external affairs, defence and communication with full autonomy to provinces. It provided for provinces to form themselves into three groups of which B and C were conceived as a concession to the League. A Constituent Assembly was to be elected for framing the Constitution, an Interim government was planned. States freed from the crown were to join the Assembly for hammering out a Union of the provinces and states. The electorates were divided into General, Muslims and Sikhs.  

The Muslim League accepted the paper on May 22 while the Congress accepted it and declared its willingness to join the Constituent Assembly. Meanwhile, Nehru made a faux pass by stating that there would be finally no grouping as the Congress held that the provinces should be free at the initial stage to opt out of the section or the group in which they were placed. Jinnah withdrew acceptance given earlier and resolved to resort to direct action. Thereupon the Congress ran to patch up the gulf and said that it accepted the paper fully.

On Aug 24, the Viceroy declared his resolve to form the Interim government with 5 Congress, League and minorities nominees i.e. at a time when the League had not even cooperated in the formation of the Interim govt. Direct Action Day was declared by League on August 16 even though the League was invited to be part of the govt. The holocaust that followed in Calcutta and Noakali is covered the essay on Sardar Patel. British imperialism had physically disarmed the Hindus and Gandhism had enfeebled them mentally. Nehru and Gandhi were passive in denouncing the Muslim role.

Meanwhile the League joined the Interim government and made its functioning virtually impossible. The leaguers refused to join the Constituent Assembly. Tempers ran high. There were furious riots in Bihar where Muslims were at the receiving end. Gandhi threatened Hindus with a fast. Nehru said that if Bihar Hindus wanted to kill Muslims they should kill him first.

Muslim League joined the Interim Government but its leaders refused to join the Constituent Assembly. To resolve the matter Nehru and Jinnah flew to London where the legal acumen of Jinnah carried the day. So it meant that the Constitution could not be valid unless it was approved by the League. Jinnah’s stature rose. 

In February 1947, the British announced their desire to transfer power not later than June 1948. With the coming of Mountbatten Savarkar wired him to consult the Mahasabha President and Master Tara Singh before any fundamental changes affecting the Hindus were effected. He urged Bengali Hindus to demand a new Hindu province in West Bengal and expel the Muslim trespassers from Assam at any cost. He also demanded that the contiguous Hindu Majority Districts of Sind should be joined to the Bombay Province.  

On 29/5/1047 Savarkar urged the Congress not to agree to partition and suggested that the Congress leaders might have a Plebiscite to decide the issue. But! Nehru said on 29/4/1947. “The Muslim League can have partition if they wish to have it.” On 24/3/1946 Nehru had said that the Congress would never agree to Partition (referred to above). Patel said, “If India should be partitioned, it could be done after mutual discussion amongst ourselves and in a peaceful manner”. 

Things moved swiftly. The new plan envisaged the creation of one or two Dominions by 15/8/1947, provision of separate Constituent Assemblies, partition of Punjab and Bengal, referendum for Baluchistan and Northwest Frontier province and the Sylhet district of Assam. The Congress agreed to Partition. Gandhi threatened the AICC either to accept Pakistan or to replace the old tried Congress leaders. To the Congress the prestige of the leaders was more important than the nation. Gandhi’s stand on partition is full of turnarounds.  

There were two men who could stop the division of India, Gandhi and Savarkar. Due to shattered health, want of direct action, the perfidy and levity of his countrymen who regarded party above country, S failed despite warnings over the last ten years.

Gandhi lived up to the prophecy of his Guru Gokhale, who foretold that Gandhi would exercise enormous influence on the common man, but when the history of political parleys would be written disinterestedly, he would go down in history as a total failure.

The Mahasabha declared 03/07/1947 as All India anti-Pakistan Day. There was considerable response throughout India esp. in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. The Brits sided with the Muslims and the partition had become a settled fact.

Said Nehru afterwards “Had Gandhi told us not to accept Partition, we would have gone down fighting and waiting” – Mosley Leonard, The last Days of the British Raj.

I doubt if Nehru meant it because in his autobiography one of the reasons that he gave for accepting Partition was that the Congress leaders were growing old and did not have the energy to keep on fighting the British or the League.

Savarkar had lost the battle for a united India but did not give up. Addressing a Hindu convention on 8/8/1947 in Delhi warned the Hindus that if they did not rise to the real danger ahead there would be many Pakistan’s thereafter. Highly prejudiced against the Congress he supported the Dewan of Travancore in their declaration of independence. The R.S.S and the Arya Samajis kept quiet on Partition.

Came 15th August. Now the right wing of the Congress was trying to win the support of Savarkar, probably Patel had a hand in this but nothing materialized. What followed freedom was massacre in Punjab, thousands were uprooted. In order to avoid a civil war, Dr Ambedkar had proposed partition with complete transfer of population of Muslims and Hindus from their respective zones.

Nehru appealed to the Hindus and Sikhs not to make mass migration. Replying to Nehru Savarkar said “What were the thousands of Hindus-Sikhs to do when faced by an imminent danger of being massacred in cold blood prompted by instinct of self-preservation and animated by the spirit of Pan-Hindu consolidation.” 

Nehru criticized with burning hatred everything that had the appearance of Hindu Sanghatan, clearly attacking Savarkar. As regards the misrepresentation of Hindu Raj by Nehru and his hatred for everything Hindu Savarkar said it was a stunt by the Gandhian ministers to cover their dismal failures in protecting the nation.

Excerpts from his words, “The demand for Hindu Raj, they say is communal, stupid, medieval, theocratic state. But they refuse to tell us what they precisely mean by Hindu Raj, before they criticize it. Assume that this demand requires being condemned; was not the demand for a Muslim state atleast equally condemnable on these very counts? Did not the Muslims claim Pakistan on the ground that Muslims constituted the major community there?” 

As time passed people realized that Gandhism was an illusion. Gandhi himself realized too late that what the nation followed was not non-violence but passive resistance. The blood, tears, sorrow proved that Gandhi was a dreamland.

Noted freedom fighter, follower of Gandhi and founder of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan K M Munshi said in the freedom special of his Social Welfare, “Last 25 years, we have been brought up on a slogan, naturalness and inevitableness of Hindu-Muslim unity. That this was wishful thinking has been proved in Noakali, Bihar and Rawalpindi. The Muslim a hard realist knew and exploited the hollowness of the slogans, the Hindu cherishes it still. Hindus love words and ideals.”

Sensing the change in environment and public mood, pickets had to be posted at Gandhi’s residence to protect the symbol of non-violence. Patel had plainly said at meetings in Calcutta and Lucknow that those Muslims who were disloyal to India would have to go to Pakistan. Such a crisis was capped by Gandhi’s famous fast, which he started on 13/01/1948 for the reinstatement of the Muslims in their houses in Delhi, restoration of desecrated mosques to their former use. The fast was also a means to pressurize Nehru and Patel, more Patel to release Rs 55 crs to Pakistan inspite of the fact that it had invaded Jammu and Kashmir on 22/10/1947. 

In the midst of an atmosphere of extreme gloom, Godse shot Gandhi on 30/1/1948 five minutes after the talks Gandhi had with Patel for settling the differences between Nehru and Patel on the question of Muslim loyalty to India.

Also read

1 Savarkar the man and mission beyond mercy petitions

2 Do not malign Savarkar for petty political gains

3 Hindu Pad-Padashahi

4 Who was responsible for Partition?

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