After the unveiling of portrait of Veer Savarkar in the
Indian Parliament in February 2003 there was a lot of mudslinging against him
in the English newspapers. Although my reply to such false accusations was
published in BJP Today of
I have therefore attached a file entitled ' Savarkar - unknown facts.' for your reference.
The main accusation is this - Savarkar apologised for his
deeds to seek release from jail in
[As a typical example see June 2003 Savarkar special issue of the RSS weekly Vivek from Mumbai. Article entitled Gandhi and Savarkar by Arun Sarathi. He says on page 39 - It is true that Savarkar asked for clemency. Sarathi gives no proof, no date, did not quote Savarkar's words. What a shame! ]
Here are the facts -
Savarkar was sentenced to Transportation for Life, TWICE and
At the time of the First World War Savarkar did write to Mr
Montague, the then Secretary of State for
(b) In return Indian revolutionaries would cease all
hostilities and help
The Governor General eventually replied, " In the present circumstances it is impossible to give effect to your suggestion."
NO PLEA FOR CLEMENCY HERE.
Due to outcry about prison conditions on the
I hope this information is of use to you and your friends.
Savarkar came to
* Gandhi came to
Gandhi had no
reason to visit the India House, a house in Highgate,
* Savarkar soon
established contacts with revolutionaries of countries such as
passed his examinations in July, Savarkar was not called to the Bar by the
Gandhi was once
In his speech Gandhi said, “Though I have my differences with Savarkar, I consider it a great honour to be in his company today.” Referring to the fact that Savarkar was not called to the bar, Gandhi said, “May India bear the fruits of his sacrifices.”
sentenced to Transportation for Life twice to be served in succession
The main charge against him was ‘waging war against the King Emperor.’ No other leader was charged with this offence.
prison rules, regulations, customs and practice Savarkar should have been
allowed to settle on the islands after three years. But the British
Administration kept him in jail for more than 10 years and then sent him back
Savarkar was kept in various jails in India.
In 1923, Savarkar was sent to Yerawada Jail in Pune. Gandhiji was also kept in the same jail, but the two were not allowed to meet.
In January 1924, Savarkar was released from jail on the conditions that for five years he will live in Ratnagiri and will not take part in politics. As a coincidence, Gandhiji had to undergo an operation of Appendicitis and was
released in February.
Savarkar was interned in a remote place called Ratnagiri, which had no Railway and telephones. He was welcomed by members of Ratnagiri Congress Party. In his immediate discussions with his well-wishers he expressed regret that some 35 of his compatriots were living in exile, four of them were Muslims.
As Savarkar could not take part in politics, he concentrated on social issues. He lived in a house rented from one Balasaheb Kher, a former member of Savarkar’s secret society – the Abhinav Bharat. When India became independent in 1947, Kher became Chief Minister of Bombay Province and later he was appointed Indian High Commissioner in London (1951-54)
Savarkar’s articles about impending danger to Hindus in Sind province was published. In it Savarkar wrote, “Oh Muslims, remember what happened recently in Mecca when Sindhi Muslims went on Haj pilgrimage! How much they were insulted and humiliated by Arab Muslims. Who will come to your rescue? Hindus. So, it is in your interest to stop your religious fanaticism.”
Savarkar stressed the need for emancipation of the untouchables and worked for the same incessantly during his internment.
Jatpat Todak Mandal (Society for the abolition of the caste system), Lahore elected Savarkar as President for their annual session, but he could not attend due to restrictions on him.
Savarkar was in internment in Ratnagiri. Gandhi, while on tour of Maharashtra, happened to visit that town. As Savarkar was ill, he invited Gandhi to his house. Gandhi and his wife Kasturaba gladly accepted the invitation on 8 March.
In response to a civic reception given by Ratnagiri Municipality, Gandhi said,
“ As Ratnagiri is the birth place of Lokamanya Tilak, it is a place of pilgrimage to all Indians. I wanted to visit this place because, in addition, it is also a place where Savarkar lives. I had previously met him in London. I admire his patriotism and sacrifices. As he is in internment, it was my duty to come to Ratnagiri to meet him.” (Ratnagiri Era pp129/130)
Savarkar’s book ‘My Transportation for life’ describing his experiences of jail life on the Andaman Islands, was published in Marathi. Here are some important passages conveniently ignored by his opponents.
1911 – July 4
Savarkar met his jailor Mr Barrie. During their conversation Barrie said, “ You see I am not English but Irish….”
Savarkar, “ Well, even if had been English I would not have despised or hated you for that. I have spent few years of my youth in England and admire many of their national characteristics. “
Savarkar organised the political prisoners and started to raise their voice against filthy conditions, poor quality food and lack of amenities. Hindus were particularly badly treated. He said, “ When we fought for better life for Hindus we also took side of Muslim prisoners too, when required. By our agitation we brought about changes in prison life. That benefited Hindus as well as Muslims who therefore developed a respect for us.”
Savarkar witnessed how Muslims were forcing their religion on Hindus by the most brutal means with the connivance of the prison authorities. He mounted an agitation against this practice and started re-conversion of those forcibly converted to Islam back to Hindu Dharma. This was called Shuddhi.
He said, “ In this chapter, and in others I had to mention repeatedly the fanaticism and barbarity of Muslims. That is unfortunate, but majority of Muslim prisoners were religious zealots. But those Muslims who were not religious fanatics will testify how friendly I was with them.”
“ It must be said that not only the ordinary Muslims but even the fanatic Muslims developed a deep respect for me. Because, apart from our quarrel over their proselytization activities I took their side against the prison authorities just as I did for Hindu prisoners. I supported their legitimate demands and fought for their grievances too.”
“Moreover, we political prisoners were trying to improve conditions in prison and try to remove utterly harsh life. As a result we suffered un-describable punishments. The reforms we brought about as a result of our agitation were beneficial to Hindus as well as Muslims. It would have been surprising if those fanatical Muslims had not developed a sense of respect and gratitude for us.”
“ Every one has right to propagate their religion by preaching. But Muslims always resort to gangsterism, violence, murder, kidnapping and rape to spread Islam. That will not be tolerated. Muslims must accept that we Hindus too have right to preach our religion and convert Muslims to our religion.”
He wrote “I always maintained that Shuddhi (re-conversion) and Sanghatan (organisation of Hindus) are essential for achieving Hindu Muslim unit. That is why I first took a case of forcible conversion to Islam in 1913 and have been fighting for the same cause ever since. I must stress that I never hated or despised Muslims, Christians or even the tribal people. I only denounce the tendency of Muslims to impose their religion on others by barbarous means.”
With persistent efforts the tide of Muslim aggression turned. By 1920, Savarkar wrote, “ Those Muslims who had terrorised us Hindus in the past feared that Hindus will now seek revenge. That was reflection of their behaviour. It had never been in the blood of Hindus to behave rudely towards others. I must emphasise that we always treated fairly any ordinary Muslims and those who were free from religious fanaticism. I taught many of them to read and write. I wrote applications of many Muslim prisoners. I always did things to improve their life with whatever little influence I had in prison. I am sure they will testify to that.”
Note - Unfortunately Savarkar’s book ‘My transportation for life’ was published in Marathi only in 1927. It was vital that English version should have been published for wider publicity but that did not happen and when Gujarati translation was published in 1934 the book was banned by British Authorities in Bombay Province. The English version was not published till 1950.
* Bhagatsingh and Rajguru, two well-known revolutionaries secretly met Savarkar.
* Mr Y B Chavan, a youth of 16 made his way to Savarkar by begging for a lift and food from his home place of Karad. He later became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra state in 1960 and Indian Defence Minister in 1962. Under his direction, Government of India started to compile ‘ Who’s Who of Indian Matryrs’. It was published in 3 volumes, in 1969, 1972 and 1973.
* On 22 February, The famous Hindu temple ‘Patit Pavan Mandir’ was consecrated and declared open by Savarkar to Hindus of all castes including the untouchables. There was no other similar temple throughout India.
* On 25th sixth annual conference of the Bombay Province Association for Removal of Untouchability of was held in Ratnagiri. Savarkar was in chair. Delegates from outside Ratnagiri could not believe the enormous social changes brought about by Savarkar.
* In March, the untouchables carried a Satyagraha for allowing entry into the Rama Temple in Nasik. As Savarkar was interned in Ratnagiri, he could not go to Nasik. He therefore sent a letter to High Caste Hindu residents of Nasik and appealed to them to allow the untouchables in the temple. The Times (of London) published the letter on 20 March 1931 and remarked “ A touching letter to Hindus”
* April 26
Somavanshi Mahars (a former untouchable caste) held their conference in Patit Pavan Mandir. Savarkar was in chair. Some 700 Mahars participated. They could not believe that there was a Temple open to all Hindus including untouchables.
During the conference some Mahars from Mumbai objected to the slogan “Hindu Dharma ki jai” or Glory to the Hindu Dharma. After discussion with Savarkar they changed their minds and shouted, “Hindu Dharma ki jai.”
Savarkar’s younger brother Dr Narayanrao had started a magazine called Shraddhanand in which Savarkar’s articles were regularly published. During Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha of 1930, Government of India banned Shraddhanand. Dr Narayanrao therefore started a new magazine called Hutatma Shraddhanand in July 1931. It started to publish Savarkar’s autobiography. After publication of two parts Governor of Bombay province warned, “ Mr Savarkar, by writing your autobiography you are breaking the conditions of your release on internment. You MUST NOT WRITE your memoirs.” Savarkar’s residence was searched by the police but no further parts of the autobiography were found.
Somavanshi Mahars of Ratnagiri District held their conference in Ratnagiri. Savarkar was the chief guest. At the end, the participants resolved that they will remain Hindus and will NOT change their religion.
Savarkar declared open, a Khadi Bhandar in Rajapur
Savarkar went to Chiplun to attend performance of his drama – Sanyasta Khadga (abandoned sword). After the performance he praised the actors, especially Deenanath Mangeshakar, father of the famous singer Lata Mangeshakar. Deenanath and his wife were life long devotees of Savarkar.
Since December 1932 Savarkar had been in touch with Mr Gopalrao Deodhar of the All India Anti-untouchability League (Maharashtra branch). Seth Ghanashyamdas Birla was President of the League. He was prepared to spend 25,000 rupees for benefit of untouchanbles of Maharashtra. Savarkar collected Rs 500 in Ratnagiri District and Birla added Rs 1,000. The fund was utilised for housing, education, building wells and other social benefits.
With incessant efforts Savarkar managed to abolish the observance of untouchability in Ratnagiri and on 22 February 1933, an effigy of untouchability was publicly burned in that town.
* A Café for all Hindus
Savarkar opened a café for all Hindus in Ratnagiri on 1 May 1933. Tea, snacks and food were served by an untouchable. Such a café was unthinkable at that time even in industrial city like Mumbai.
On 24 January, Tarkathirtha Laxmanshastri Joshi, a left wing intellectual, delivered a lecture in the famous Patit Pavan Mandir in Ratnagiri. He spoke on Sanatan Dharma and ever surviving and growing Hindu Society. Savarkar was in the chair.
In January, Savarkar visited Malvan to attend launching of the paper Kokan Samachar. Two days after launching the paper Savarkar organised a ‘dining together of all Hindus’ in Cinema House called Manohar. Muslims and Christians also attended the ‘dining together’
Yusuf Meher Ali, a Muslim leader of Congress party from Mumbai called on Savarkar and visited the café in Ratnagiri – open to all Hindus including untouchables. Mr Ali said that he had not seen such a Café in the whole of India.
Prof Patwardhan was one of those who opposed Savarkar’s views on purification of Marathi language. He wrote, “ I was asked by editor of Vividh Dnyanvistar to write an article criticising Savarkar. But I thought that before critising him I must read his articles. The surprise was that when I studied his articles on purification of Marathi language I became thoroughly convinced of his arguments and became his staunch supporter.”
That has been the tragedy of Savarkar. Our history would have changed substantially if only his opponents had at least read his views. A well known follower of Gandhi made such a confession in 1983.
On 10 May 1937 Savarkar was released from internment unconditionally.
The daily paper Lokamanya on page one published various comments from prominent Indian leaders. Rajaji (Rajagopalachari) openly stated that he was inspired by the sacrifices by Veer Savarkar. Rajaji had published a book a few years earlier entitled ‘Life of Barrister Savarkar.’ In 1947, Rajaji the became first Indian Governor General of India after partition
* His biography of Mazzini (in Marathi) was banned in 1908.
* The Drama ‘Usshyap’ was banned. in 1927.
* The magazine Shrddhanand run by Savarkar’s brother and which carried Savarkar’s articles was banned on 10 May 1930.
* In July1931, his biography in Urdu was banned by Punjab Govt followed by bans on biographies in Tamil, Kannad, and Marathi. (R Era pp248/9)
* My Transportation for Life (in Marathi) was banned in 1934.
* November 1943 biography by S.L.Karandikar (in Marathi) was banned.
Savarkar was honoured by Lucknow City Corporation. He was welcomed by the mayor, Mr Chaudhari of Muslim League.
Mumbai – Sunderdas Medical College.
Savarkar delivered a lecture on Indian War of Independence 1857. Programme was arranged by Dr Jivraj Mehta of Congress Party. Mehta became Chief Minister of Gujrat in 1960.
Savarkar visited the city of Karachi ( now in Pakistan ) It was a majority Hindu city and as such was governed by the Congress Party. Its members refused to honour Savarkar, though the Muslim corporators were in favour of such a function.
Dwarakaprasad Mishra, one of the ministers in the Congress Govt in Central Provinces, openly said that he took inspiration from Savarkar.
Savarkar was publicly honoured by Jabalpur Municipality, which was controlled by Congress Party.
Bose had to resign as the President of the Congress Party due to the intrigues of Gandhi. He toured India and was publicly honoured in Mumbai. Savarkar was in the chair.
Subhash Chandra Bose came to see Savarkar. He told Bose, “ Why do you waste time in your movement to remove the monument to ‘ Blackhole of Calcutta ‘? A person like you should go out of India and form an army out of our prisoners of war and attack the British from outside the India. There are only two or three such men who can dare such an attempt. But I have particularly high hopes about you.”
Bose eventually did what Savarkar had asked by forming the Indian National Army (I.N.A) out of the prisoners of war held by the Japanese.
At the insistence of the Americans, the British Government sent Sir Stafford Cripps Mission to India. His scheme was far more dangerous than the partition being demanded by Muslims. Savarkar openly challenged Cripps. And even Nehru showered praise on Savarkar at that time in his paper, the National Herald (Keer 304/5)
On the 14th, Governor Sir Henry Twickenham as Chancellor of Nagpur University conferred the honorary degree of D Litt on Savarkar.
On the 15th Nagpur City Corporation honoured Savarkar. Muslim corporators also attended.
On 30 December, I.N A of Subhashchandra Bose liberated Andaman Islands and flew the flag of Free India. He paid respects to Savarkar and his compatriots who had suffered in the Cellular jail.
British were forced to give independence to India, but at the same time, partitioned the country.
Many leaders of the Congress Party then were members of Savarkar’s secret society, The Abhinav Bharat. They included Balasaheb Kher, the Chief Minister of Bombay Province, Ravishankar Shukla, the Chief Minister of the Central Provinces, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, the Chief Minister of Punjab and even Acharya J B Krupalani, the President of the Congress Party!!
In Pune, Savarkar disbanded his revolutionary society – The Abhinav Bharat.
Tributes were paid to those who died in armed conflicts against the English. from 1857 to 1947
On 10 May, an exhibition of past revolutionaries was held in Tilak Smarak Mandir, Pune. Keshavrao Jedhe, a Congress leader was in the chair. Savarkar delivered his first lecture and explained why only the dead revolutionaries were being remembered.
In the evening, there was another public function in front of the Peshave Park, Pune. A huge portrait of Subhash Chandra Bose was in place as Chairman. The meeting was conducted by Senapati Bapat, a veteran Congress leader. Savarkar explained how the revolutionaries forced the British to grant independence to India.
On the second day, Savarkar expanded on the theme on the role of the revolutionaries.
Savarkar was given a civic reception by Baburao Sanas, Congress Party Mayor on behalf of Pune Municipal Corporation. Mr S G Barve, Commissioner of Pune City Corporation was present. Barve became Finance Minister in The Government of Maharashtra in 1961.
Savarkar delivered his famous lectures ‘Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History’
On 8 February 1953, when the 5th lecture was delivered, Mr Bhaurao Heere, Revenue minister in the Congress Govt of Bombay Province was in chair.
Rajendra Prasad, first President of India visited Andaman Islands. He saw the prison cell where Veer Savarkar was imprisoned and bowed in respect.
Birth centenary of Lokamanya Tilak
All parties formed a reception committee at Pune and invited Savarkar to deliver the main speech. The celebrations were held in front of the famous historical place Shaniwar Wada. [I was present at the function.] It was chaired by Lokanayak M S Ane, a well-known Congress leader from Nagpur and attended by Baburao Sanas, the former Mayor of Pune and a leader of Congress Party. Members of all other parties were present on stage.
Citizens of Delhi celebrated the centenary of the 1857 war of independence against the rule of the English East India Company. Main speaker and chief guest was Savarkar.
In the evening, Savarkar was honoured in Maharashtra Samaj. Mr Narahari Vishnu (commonly called Kaka or uncle) Gadgil, the former minister in Nehru’s cabinet was in the chair. Gadgil became the Governor of Punjab a few months later
In Mumbai, Savarkar was publicly honoured on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The Mayor of Mumbai, Comrade Mirajkar, presented a purse of Rs 11,001 to Savarkar. Representatives of all political parties attended the function.
1960 / 61
In 1910, Savarkar was sentenced to Transportation for Life, twice. Had it been his misfortune to serve the lengths of these two sentences, he would have been released on 23 December 1960. There were celebrations throughout India, as Savarkar was still alive. Savarkar’s health was poor, so he attended only one function, in Pune on 14 January 1961. Senapati Bapat, the veteran Congress leader, was in the chair. Mr S.M Joshi, the well-known Socialist leader was also present.
Savarkar started to speak in low voice. He said,” You have gathered in such large number to honour me. But I am weak. I cannot speak for a long time. If I do, I get pain in my stomach….” However, astonishingly enough, the tone of his speech changed just after two minutes. He said, “ I don’t know from where, but I have got energy.” In his speech, he emphasised that nobody cares for a country without strong armed forces.
The audiotape is worth listening. Even if you cannot understand Marathi the change in tone of Savarkar was remarkable.
Shree Shreeprakash, Governor of Maharashtra called on Savarkar.
Nehru died in May. Within months, the Congress Party repented the years of neglect of Savarkar and in October the Government of India sanctioned him a pension, acknowledging his part in the Indian freedom struggle against the British rule.
Self-immolation of Savarkar. As soon as his death was announced, K M Munshi, founder President of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, rushed to Savarkar’s house and paid his respects (Bhavan’s journal June 2001, p19)
Munshi was Home Minister in the first Congress Government of Bombay Province during 1937-39.
Mrs Indira Gandhi’s government issued a postal stamp in honour of Savarkar
Balarao Savarkar, the private secretary to Veer Savarkar started to publish Savarkar’s biography in four volumes. First part – Ratnagiri Era was published on 23 July. At the publication ceremony, Mr Balasaheb Desai, a well-known Congress leader was present. Desai was formerly the Home Minister of Bombay Province and later of Maharashtra province. Justice Bhole of the Scheduled caste was also present at the ceremony.
Documentary on Savarkar.
Janata Government was in power in Delhi from April 1977 to January 1980.
One Dr Kishor of Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) sent a letter to Minister for Information and Broadcasting requesting that a documentary be made on Veer Savarkar. Accordingly, a note landed on table of one Prem Vaidya of Films Division of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It asked him to prepare a research paper and submit a proposal. But there were some delays afterwards.
Prem Vaidya was selected to go for a training at the BBC, London. He decided to do his search on Savarkar in London and therefore asked Mr S M Joshi, a well-known Socialist leader from Pune for an introduction to Mr N G Gore, the then Indian High Commissioner in London. Gore was also a Socialist. Joshi gladly obliged.
In London, Vaidya met Mr Sonapatki, an Architect working for the Greater London council. They visited all the important places and Vaidya took pictures with his camera.
In February India Gandhi came back to power in Delhi.
February 25 – Prem Vaidya starts his shooting of documentary on Savarkar to cover the period of Savarkar’s imprisonment on the Andaman Islands.
26th February was death anniversary of Veer Savarkar. Well-known Marathi writer Purushottam Laxman Deshpande was on Andaman Islands. He visited the cell where Savarkar was kept and was overwhelmed by emotions. The cell was only 13 by 7 foot. Deshpande then addressed the Maharashtrians who had gathered outside the cell and made a powerful speech. It was astonishing that a Socialist and admirer of Gandhi and Nehru all his life could make such a speech and pay tributes to Savarkar.
Deshpande made following points –
* The punishments suffered by Savarkar are described in his book ‘My Transportation for Life’ However, it is my conviction that he has not described even 10% of what he actually suffered, because he did not want pity or sympathy. He wanted the youth to come forward and say – ‘I too am prepared to suffer like Savarkar for our nation.’
* Persons like Savarkar can never die by any vicious attacks, or neglect or propaganda against them. They are self-made. They live like the great Banyan trees providing comforts to others in their hour of need.
* We need to think how his thoughts could be spread in all the Indian languages.
* So much has happened here that every Indian should come here in bow in respect of freedom fighters like Savarkar.
Deshpande concluded his speech by saying, “ To remind our people every year, there should be a day of celebrations, right here in the Cellular Jail on national level. And it should be presided by the highest authority of the country.”
Government of India documentary on Veer Savarkar was passed by the Board of Censor for release in English and 15 Indian languages
The Indian Express commented
“ Despite its shortcomings Prem Vaidya’s VEER SAVARKAR is easily the most interesting and significant of May’s Films Division documentaries. Beginning with his death on February 26, 1966 the film traces the origin and stormy life of this militant freedom-fighter who among other things thought that World War II was a blessing for Indians to get military training for their way of independence….”
Veer Savarkar Birth Centenery Celebrations Committee (SBCCC) was formed in London by the following –
Mr V S Godbole, a Civil Engineer from Bedford.
Bhaskarrao Gadre, RSS chief of Pune.
Mr Satyanarayan, RSS chief of U.K
The committee was later joined by the British Labour Party veterans, Lord Fenner Brockway, Rt Honourable Reginald Freeson, M.P, Mr Richard Walfe; Member of the European Parliament and Mr P Pendse, former Lord Mayor of London Borough of Brent.
N T Ramarao, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh saw them film VEER SAVARKAR in his own studio-theatre in Bhagyanagar (Hyderabad). He commented, “ I very much wanted to meet this great man during my younger days but could not. I am moved by this film.’
NTR was himself a filmmaker.
A reputed documentary film-maker from Chennai – Shree Ravi Varma wrote Prem Vaidya, “ Yesterday there was a projection of your film ‘Veer Savarkar’ at Max Muller Bhavan under the auspices of the Savarkar Centenary Committee. It has turned out to be a great film – Every Indian should be compulsorily shown this film … A very effective and touching approach to the subject, touches not only the heart but it makes the viewer think….I hope the films on freedom-fighters which is on the anvil of Films Division would be a honest as your film and just not end as propaganda stuff …”
On 4 April, Times of India described Prem Vaidya’s documentary on Veer Savarkar as the Best documentary of the year.
On 26 April, Prem Vaidya’s documentary on Veer Savarkar was given the Filmfare’s award and the Diploma at the Tashkent Film Festival.
April / May
SBCCC held public functions in Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester
Mr Godbole explained Savarkar’s work when he was in London (1906-1910)
SBCCC appealed to the Greater London Council (GLC) to put up a plaque on 65 Cromwell Avenue, known as India House, while Savarkar stayed there for three years. As per the official procedure, the Historical Monuments Committee of the GLC made enquiries about Savarkar and decided to consider granting the request for a plaque only after having concluded that Savarkar was indeed a great historical person who should be honoured.
Members of Films Division of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India formed Films Division Rasik Mandal. They invited Shree P L Deshpande renowned Maratha Litterateur for inauguration ceremony. To their surprise P L talked about Film Division’s production on revolutionary Savarkar and the involvement of the staff-members on this memorable documentary. At the end of his speech, he presented Shree Prem Vaidya, the producer, a book – Five Stormy Years – Savarkar in London, written by Dr Hareendra Srivastava of New Delhi.
Indians paid homage to Savarkar in Committee Room number 14 of the British Houses of Parliament.
The meeting began with Savarkar’s famous song, ‘ jayostute shree mahan mangale shivaspade shubhade.’
Welcoming the participants, Rt Honourable Reg Freeson, M.P (Labour) said,
“ We are not just allowing you to hold a meeting here, we are in fact inviting you to have your celebrations here.”
Lord Brockway, 97, just four years younger than Savarkar, was unable to attend. His message was read out by Mr Freeson. It read, “ We are right in celebrating the centenary of the birth of Veer Savarkar. It is difficult to describe his service to Indian freedom. First, he gave inspiration by his books, using biography of Mazzini, as an example to India. He differed from Gandhiji in urging an armed struggle. About this we may differ, but Savarkar inspired many by his own sacrifices. He was sentenced to transportation for life. It was characteristic of him that he asked whether the British Raj would last that long. He not only opposed the British occupation of India but also took a leading part in seeking to end the ranks among Indians including the untouchability. Savarkar announced that he was retiring from public life in 1948, but in fact he carried on. He was 83 when he died and all of us who have taken any part in India’s struggle must remember him.”
Richard Balfe, the Member of European Parliament (Labour) also attended the meeting, despite his busy schedule with another election campaign for European Parliament just eight days away. He said, “ It was a great pity that Savarkar had to spend 27 years in jail and internment. If not, Indian politics would have taken a different direction, adopted a different strategy and philosophy. He faced the wrath of the British press, but stood up courageously. When you know you are right, you invariably come out successfully in the end. People respect those who have firm convictions of justice and righteousness of their cause. Savarkar was such a man.”
Mr Sonapatki read a message from John Taylor Caldwell. It said, “ I am pleased to learn that a plaque and a bust will be erected to perpetuate the memory of Veer Savarkar. My association with Savarkar was through my senior colleague Guy Aldred.”
“ In 1910, Aldred and Savarkar shared the same prison; Aldred for printing a banned Indian Nationalist paper, and Savarkar awaiting deportation to India to face trial for waging war against His Majesty’s Government.”
“The friendship between the two lasted over fifty years. They both believed in an ultimate universal state embracing all mankind, and wherein all men and women would be equal citizens.”
Mr Sonapatki also said, “ What a wonderful coincidence that in this Parliament, once the British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury declared ‘we must bleed India and the lancets should be applied to those parts where the blood is the thickest.’ And in the very same Parliament, we are paying respects to Veer Savarkar who played a great part in the Indian freedom struggle from the British rule.”
Concluding the ceremony, Mr Godbole thanked all the participants and contributors. He specially thanked councillor Norman Howard of Greater London Council (GLC) by whose efforts the council has agreed to put up a plaque on India House in London where Savarkar lived during 1906-09. Godbole also said that in the 1960s, due to Savarkar’s inspiration, a well-known universal prayer was formalised, to be sung at such functions. The meeting ended with that prayer sung by Mrs Barve namely, sarva mangala mangalyam devi sarvartha sadhikam
Dr Lakshmi Sehgal, formerly Captain Lakshmi, of Rani Jhansi Regiment of Subhashchandra Bose’s Indian National Army – saw Prem Vaidya’s documentary on Savarkar and commented, “It should be widely shown to children all over the country.”
A commemorative plaque of Veer Savarkar was fixed by the GLC on the house, previously known as ‘India House’ where Savarkar had stayed. It was inaugurated by Labour Party Peer Lord Fenner Brockway aged 97. People in the audience requested him to sit in chair while addressing the crowd. He refused, stood up and spoke eloquently for three minutes. He said, “ I am proud to unveil this plaque but this should have been done your Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.”
Sunil Gavaskar, the famous Indian cricketer was also present. He considered it a great honour to witness the ceremony.
BBC broadcast this news on the programme Nayi Jindgai Naya jeevan.
Prem Vaidya, producer of documentary on Savarkar received the following letter from Shri K Prabhakar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra after screening two documentaries : Against the current and Veer Savarkar.
“… I greatly enjoyed seeing these films and felt that both of them have considerable potential for being used as effective material with a view to acquainting the younger generation with freedom-struggle and the spirit of adventure.
The technical quality of the films and the sensitive manner in which the subject has been dealt with was particularly impressive.
I trust you would be able to persuade the concerned authorities in the Central and State Governments to arrange for the exhibition of these films in educational and other institutions at an increasing scale, both in Maharashtra as well as in other States of the country.
I would also suggest that you could undertake a series of films on freedom-fighters and various episodes in the struggle for independence. Such material will, I am sure, help to inspire contemporary and future generations of Indians
And also comprise an excellent historical record. “
( Governor’s letter ref 796/PS/G/85)
Barrister Vitthalrao Gadgil was a minister in the cabinets of Indira Gandhi and also Rajiv Gandhi. He wrote an article about Savarkar’s case at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 1911. He said, “I am publishing this judgement to show my deep respect for Savarkar.” It was published in a Special issue of Savarkar Pratishthan of Mumbai.
28 May – Presentation of the first Veer Savarkar Award for promotion of national security awareness and strategic thinking. At the award ceremony General Roy Chaudhuri referred to his visit to the Andaman Cellular jail and the cell where Savarkar was kept in confinement. General Chaudhuri said that the list of people, who were banished to the Kala Pani and suffered for their patriotism is incomplete. Not all names have been traced and inscribed there. The army chief pleaded for their recognition to all those, who undertook the armed struggle for India’s independence.
(Ref :- The Times of India June 2, 1997)
Compiled by Dr V S Godbole on 10 May 2003, revised 12 August 03,
20 January, 4 July, 19 September, 13 and 16 November, 12 and 26 December 2004, 9 January, 5, 7, 15, 22 and 29 April 2005.