Viewpoint by Ram Puniyani*
NEW DELHI, 7 May 2023 (IDN) — In April 2023, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) decided to make many deletions from school textbooks. Apart from the parts related to Mughal history, the mention of Gujarat violence and the origin of Caste Varna system, what stands deleted is also a part related to Gandhi murder.
“His (Gandhi’s) steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate Gandhiji… Gandhiji’s death had an almost magical effect on the communal situation in the country… The Government of India cracked down on organizations that were spreading communal hatred. Organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh were banned for some time,” said the deleted sections.
How do we see these deletions? And the deletion that Godse is referred to as Hindu extremist, a Brahmin needs to be understood.
One recalls that murder of Swami Shraddhanad was done by a Muslim Abdul Rashid. Gandhi condemned the murder but addressed Rashid as brother and said that he should not be blamed for this murder; instead those who created the atmosphere of hate should be blamed. On the same lines Gandhi and his disciple, Sardar Patel in particular, saw Godse being the manifestation of Hate prevalent in the society.
Of course Gandhi was not there to opine about Godse after his murder but his attitude to the dastardly act became clear when in 1944 Godse tried to attack him with a dagger in Panchagani near Pune.
The incident was, “During a prayer meeting that evening, Nathuram Godse, dressed in a Nehru shirt, pajama and jacket, rushed towards Gandhi. He was brandishing a dagger in his hand and shouting anti-Gandhi slogans. Godse was overpowered…” and Gandhi was saved.
In response Gandhi “asked Godse to spend eight days with him so that they could understand each other. Godse rejected this invitation and was allowed to go free by a magnanimous Gandhi.” In both the case of Abdul Rashid and Godse, Gandhi’s response seems to be on the same page.
As for Gandhi blaming Hate as the cause of murder in the case of Swami Shraddhanand, the same view was taken by Gandhi’s disciple Sardar Patel, who banned RSS. Some mistakenly believe that it was on the insistence of Nehru that RSS was banned. The real fact is revealed by the communiqué issues by the Government. Just to recall Sardar Patel was the Home Minister at that time.
In a communiqué issued on 4 February 1948, the Central government said it was banning the RSS “to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name… It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”
In a letter to M.S. Golwalkar, Patel writes, “All their speeches (RSS members, added) were filled with communal poison… As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In face opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death.”
RSS propagates that mentioning the ban on RSS is half-truth as the ban was lifted by courts as being illegal. The Paragraph which has been deleted precisely mentions that ban was imposed for sometime only. As such from Gandhi to Patel and Nehru they all realized that more than Godse as a person it is the Hate which is responsible for the violence, including that of murder of Swami Shraddhanand and later of Gandhi.
While RSS ban was not valid on legal ground, its ban was prompted by RSS spreading the Hate which led to violence and murders, including that of Mahatma Gandhi. While paying lip service to Mahatma, RSS continues to do what it began, spreading Hate against Muslims and at the same time glorifying the old hierarchical society.
The Hate which Godse imbibed was from RSS to begin with, Godse writes, “Having worked for the uplift of the Hindus I felt it necessary to take part in political activities of the country for the protection of just rights of Hindus. I therefore left the Sangh (RSS) and joined Hindu Mahasabha.”
(Godse, ‘Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi’ 1993, and Pg. 102). He held Mahatma responsible for appeasing Muslims, and thereby the formation of Pakistan. He joined Hindu Mahasabha, at that time the only political party of Hindutva, and became general secretary of its Pune Branch. In due course he first started a newspaper, as founder editor, called Agrani (leader) and later another one called Hindu Rashtra. And undoubtedly mentioning him as a Brahmin is not unwarranted as Brahmins were at the forefront of Hindu Nationalist politics, to begin with.
Understanding hate imbibed by Abdul Rashid and Godse in today’s context will mean that those youth who are waving lathis, swords and pistol in the religious processions are guilty of course but the bigger blame has to be apportioned to the indoctrination of Hate ideology, hate speech and the social media which is constantly blaring the Hate against religious minorities. Looking in the neighbourhood it confirms that nationalism in the name of religion is the main weapon which is creating and propagating Hate.
In a way we are following the path of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Pakistan (Islamic Nationalism) the Hate manufactured against Hindus and Christians did result in their persecution there. In Sri Lanka (Buddhist Sinhala Nationalism) Hindus (Tamils) and Muslim and Christians have been on the receiving end of consequences of Hate.
Now with these deletions in textbooks those upholding Hindu nationalism and their advocates are further intensifying the Hate which has led to so many acts of violence, have led to marginalization of minorities further culminating in Ghettoes which are proliferating in various localities. Defending the deletions, particularly related to Gandhi murder and role of RSS is yet another attempt to deepen the divisive agenda dominating at present.
*This article is the 25th in a series of joint productions of South Asian Outlook and IDN-InDepthNews, the flagship of the International Press Syndicate. The author is a human rights activist and taught at IIT Bombay. The views are personal. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Image: Gandhi (left) and his assassin Godse (right). Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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