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What was the Congress afraid of...?

By Varsha Bhosle
May 19, 2003 15:51 IST
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Right now, I'm in mommy-mode. It happens when I feed porridge to my baby nephew, who, I'm convinced, has more acumen in his chubby butt than some readers have in their thick skulls. Perhaps, for people habituated to human worship, to beating the trodden track, and with an aversion to the logical process, spoon-feeding just may make a difference...

The thrust of my last column was: No person can decide for the whole country what is good or bad for it. A person has the right to his opinion, he has the right to disseminate his opinion, he has the right to bring people around to his way of thinking -- but he has no right to break the law and sabotage his government, seemingly on the behalf of his country and for the supposed good of his country. When he does that, he becomes an offender and must pay for his crime.

One intellect couldn't figure out what Melita Norwood was doing in an article comparing Gandhiji to Hitler. If said intellect had shed his Islamist predisposition, he just may have cottoned on to the point that Mrs Norwood, Godse and Stauffenberg, all were guilty of taking unilateral action against their respective governments, without the consent of the people. Mrs Norwood, in her mind, had perfectly noble motives, as had Stauffenberg and Godse in theirs. Some justify her motives; some, Stauffenberg's; some, Godse's. However, while she is branded as a traitor, and Godse's ideology itself is classified as evil (but not Mrs Norwood's, please note), why is Stauffenberg to be lauded as a patriot??

A bitch, ain't it? This is why I believe that patriotism means to opt for one's country -- right or wrong -- every time. It prevents one from selling State secrets, murdering leaders, damaging the country's image in international fora, and inviting a foreign invasion of one's country, for all of which there is no justification, no matter what the argument.

Still, I was largely pleased by the message board. For, even one reader like Raghu makes up for all the dead-heads out there. To wit: "It is not about Godse: it is about what constitutes patriotism. Stauffenberg believed that he was doing his country good by ridding it of Hitler. Godse, too, sincerely believed that by assassinating Gandhiji he was doing good to his country. In other words, the same impulse led these two people to do what they did -- whether or not their actions are legally defensible and morally justifiable. To claim that Stauffenberg is motivated by patriotism but Godse is not, is to exhibit hypocrisy..." Thanks, sweetheart.

Noooooo... but I have no intention of disappointing you! Let me assure you, dear readers, I don't have any love for Ahimsa and I fully understand why Godse eliminated Gandhiji. BUT, nowhere was my opinion expressed or evident even in a single line. It was only your blind worship, your inability to question the garbage passed off as history, and your blatant prejudice, that saw me comparing Gandhiji to Hitler -- even when the latter didn't appear in the article. Gawd, how predictable!

I hadn't planned this follow-up. However, a pal who felt I needed to see non-rediff comments, mailed me some from Bharat Rakshak's forum: Don't quote her but use the "ammo" she provides, one parasite writes. How dare she denigrate Gandhiji, a hawk fumes. The supposed analogy "is the sort I would draw in PRIVATE conversation," one hypocrite admits. "We NRIS needs to give a little more push to bring [rediff] to [financial] bust," they propose. A little digging left me fascinated by their self-importance: They actually believe that Vir Sanghvi, editor of The Hindustan Times and host/expert on a dozen talk shows, has nothing better to do than read their forum to pick up arguments for his column! Amazing. If such is the intellect and integrity of members belonging to a defence website, boy, are we in trouble.

The first thing that people interested in defence matters would know about Gandhiji is that he was totally against war and its tool, the military. Meaning, under his influence, Bharat Rakshak would probably be all about raksha-bandhan with our "brothers" across the border. That is, if we hadn't yet been integrated into Pakistan...

In 1926, Gandhiji put his signature to the Anti-Conscription Manifesto, issued by the War Resisters' International and directed to the League of Nations. Among other things, it called for "definite step towards complete disarmament" because "Barrack life, military drill, blind obedience to commands, however unjust and foolish they may be, and deliberate training for slaughter undermine respect for the individual, for democracy and human life... By training for war, men come to consider war as unavoidable and even desirable... We therefore call upon all men and women of good-will to help create in all countries a public opinion which will induce Governments and the League of Nations to take this definite step to rid the world of the spirit of militarism..."

Yes-yes, very nice and all that and I wish life would conform -- but how realistic is it...? Since the time that Man dragged his mate to the cave, five impulses have remained unchanged: to eat; to defecate; to fornicate; to mark one's territory, often at the cost of others; and, to defend one's territory. These, we share with all other animals. What makes the Ahimsa-vadi presume that s/he can change what has persisted for millenniums -- cutting through the eras of Buddha and Mahavir and Jesus – right from the beginning of mankind??

I submit, Ahimsa-vadis are downright dangerous to the security of a country. It does not matter whether or not Gandhiji himself endorsed military action in a particular instance or would have compromised his principles in the face of future aggressions. His constant harping on the Christian version of Ahimsa -- the Gita does not advise offering the other cheek to be slapped or glorify self-suffering as does the Bible -- totally screwed the minds of two generations and continues to confuse newer ones.

One famous example: In The Memoirs of Major General AA Rudra, Maj Gen DK Palit tells us an incident concerning the first paper dealing with the threats to the security of newly-independent India and asking for directives on defence policy from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. When Gen Sir Robert Lockhart, the first C-in-C of the Indian armed forces, approached him, the PM bristled, "Rubbish. Total rubbish. We don't need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs."

Sure enough, this was followed by the Pakistani invasion of 1948. According to Gen Rudra, it was this invasion that saved the Indian Army.

Worse, can you imagine a situation where the COAS doesn't know how to galvanize his soldiers -- during a war?! In December 1947, a month after the 161st Infantry Brigade counterattacked Pakistani forces and a month before Gandhiji was shot, Gen Cariappa told him, "I cannot do my duty well by the country if I concentrate only on telling troops of non-violence, all the time subordinating their main task of preparing themselves efficiently to be good soldiers. So I ask you, please, to give me the 'Child's guide to knowledge' -- tell me, please, how I can put this over the spirit of non-violence to the troops, without endangering their sense of duty to train themselves well professionally as soldiers."

What could a person who endorsed the Anti-Conscription Manifesto tell him? Gandhiji's reply: "I am still groping in the dark for the answer. I will find it and give it to you some day." That surely must have made things easier for the General...

Which is why I say that I understand why Godse took the extreme step -- which, incidentally, is not the same as condoning or glorifying it. As he said in his statement to the court, "...I felt that Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan... the nation would be free to follow the course founded on reason which I consider to be necessary for sound nation building."

Or, take Hyderabad: "It is not at all necessary to refer to the atrocious misdeeds perpetrated by the Nizam's Ministers and the Razakars... It was evident from the manner in which Gandhiji looked at these Hyderabad affairs that he would soon start his experiments of non-violence... and treat Kasim Razvi as his adopted son just as [Noakhali's] Suhrawardy. It was not at all difficult to see that it was impossible for the Government, in spite of all the powers, to take any strong measures... Had the Government then decided to take any military or police action against Hyderabad, it would have been compelled to withdraw its decision just as was done in the case of the payment of Rs 55 crores. For Gandhiji would have gone on fast unto death and Government would have been forced to save the life of Gandhiji."

Just before his death, Gandhiji had begun organising a conference to create a 'Shanti Sena,' ie, an army of unarmed civilians as an alternative to military intervention in conflicts. (Bharat Rakshak would have enjoyed depicting textures of khadi instead of Regimental regalia.) Can you imagine a bunch of peaceniks arrayed against the brutalities of Pakistani tribals and soldiers...? Let me inform you of what even the urban civilian of that day accomplished. S Gurbachan Singh Talib, in Chapter 4 of his book Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947, records:

They were well supplied with arms, such as daggers, swords, spears and even fire-arms. They had bands of stabbers and their auxiliaries, who covered the assailant, ambushed the victim and if necessary disposed of his body. These bands were subsidized by the Muslim League, and in many cases cash payments were made to individual assassins on the number of Hindus and Sikhs bagged... Women were raped in the presence of their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons. Later they were distributed among the Muslims to be kept as concubines or were forcibly married. A large number were carried into the tribal territory, and became untraceable...

Children would be snatched from the hands of their parents, tossed on spears and swords, and sometimes thrown alive into the fire. Other cruelties equally horrible were perpetrated. Women's breasts, noses and arms would he lopped off. Sticks and pieces of iron would be thrust into their private parts. Sometimes the bellies of pregnant women were ripped open and the unformed life in the womb thrown out...

This was Punjab. After listing the massacres in Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan, Mr Singh writes in Chapter 11: "All these happenings occurred at a time when, in India, Mahatma Gandhi undertook his last fast to get better treatment for the Indian Muslims. That was the response in Pakistan to the Mahatma's gesture, and the faithfully carrying out of the Mahatma's instructions by Hindus and Sikhs."

The survivors of such atrocities took shelter in Delhi's mosques. To empty which mosques, Gandhiji undertook a fast.

Godse's deposition -- which is well over 30,000 words and has several reasons other than the 55 crores -- was taken down verbatim by the reporters thronging the court. When the judges retired to their chambers, the police grabbed the reporters' notes and warned them of severe consequences on publication of the account. The Congress government then banned the statement from reproduction or publication in part or in full. The ban continued for 30 years after the trial -- till the law was annulled. Why? What was the Congress afraid of...? Why does it, even today, stop the performance of the play based on Godse's deposition...?

Here's one clue, from Gandhiji's last day, as recorded by his disciples: "At about 1.30 pm, Brij Krishna read out to Gandhi a statement by Master Tara Singh which angrily advised the Mahatma to retire to the Himalayas. A similar attack by a refugee yesterday had shocked him, and this also left its mark."

Satyamev Jayate, my foot! I gag at the reasons that motivate the Congress and the Left. Fifty years of their asinine socialism kept us in the Third World, and their corrupt "secularism" demonized one half of the people -- on the basis of the actions of one man.

A human-worshipping, spineless, ill-read, closed-minded people really have no face to abuse Savarkar and his ideology. For, when Gandhiji was busy fasting and his Congress was busy protecting its vote bank " the period up till August 1947, there were about a million Hindu and Sikh refugees from the Western districts of Punjab, from the NWFP, from Baluchistan and the devastated city of Lahore, besides Amritsar, who had to be looked after in refugee camps by the Punjab Government, by the Sikh States of the Punjab, and by bodies like the Hindu Mahasabha and the SGPC." This is recorded by Gurbachan Singh Talib -- no Savarkarite by any stretch of imagination.

Lastly, Godse did not appeal against his death sentence; his appeal was only against his conviction for conspiracy. Just as I think he had to pay for his crime, so did he. This is recorded in the Mahatma Gandhi Murder Case, Printed Volume II, Criminal Appeals No. 66 to 72 of 1949, Punjab High Court, Simla. Educate yourselves, if you dare.
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Varsha Bhosle