Tributes pour in for Veer Savarkar on his birthday

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Anupama Nair


May 28th was birthday of a great Freedom Fighter who suffered imprisonment so that you and me would be born in a free country. It is my grandmother’s birthday too and I used to tell her she should be proud to be born on the day a great man was born. Before Independence every child would ask it’s mother why we are slaves, and mothers would answer “what is new, we were slaves for 900 years”. What was his fault? That he was sentenced to two life imprisonments – his fault love for his motherland and to set her free from British Imperialism. Fortunately, he did not spend his sentence as India was free from British rule on August 15, 1947. What did we do for him, we buried him the sands of time and only condemn him? He should be given a Bharat Ratna along with Bhagat Singh, Netaji and many others whose names are forgotten in the annals of history.

Our great PM Modi tweeted "respectful tribute to Veer Savarkar, the hardworking son of Mother Bharti, on his birth anniversary. Home Minister Amit Shah paid tributes to Veer Savarkar on his birth anniversary. In a series of tweets, Mr Shah said, “Savarkar was the epitome of sacrifice and tenacity. He said, Veer Savarkar was given two life terms of imprisonment but the inhuman tortures in the dungeon could not deter his resolve to return to the ultimate glory of Mother Bharati. Veer Savarkar's unparalleled contribution to the freedom movement and his efforts to remove the social evil of untouchability from society can never be forgotten”.

The great Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Aditya Nath accused that if Congress would have accepted Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's words, than the country would have been saved from the tragedy of partition”. These views were expressed in his book “Veer Savarkar – Who Could Stop the Partition of India and His National Security Vision” on the birth anniversary of Veer Savarkar in Lucknow. "Veer Savarkar was never given the honor he deserved after independence. Instead, he was given two life sentences."

Veer Savarkar or Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a great son of Bharat Ma was born on 28th May 1883 to Damodar and Radhabai Savarkar, near Nashik, Maharastra. Savarkar joined the Hindu Mahasabha and popularized the term Hindutva (Hinduness), previously coined by Chandranath Basu to create a collective ‘Hindu’ identity as an essence of Bharat. Surprisingly Savarkar was an atheist and also a pragmatic practitioner of Hindu philosophy.

Savarkar began his political activities as a high school student and continued to do so in Ferguson College (Poona). He and his brother founded a secret society called Abhinav Bharat Society. When he went to the United Kingdom for his law studies, he involved himself with organizations such as India House and the Free India Society. He also published books advocating complete Indian independence by revolutionary means. One of the books he published called “Indian War of Independence” about the great Revolt of 1857, was banned by the British authorities. In 1910, Savarkar was arrested and ordered to be extradited to India for his connections with the revolutionary group India House.

On his voyage back to India, Savarkar staged an attempt to escape and seek asylum in France, while the ship was docked in the port of Marseilles. The French port officials however, handed him back to the British while disobeying international law. On return to India, Savarkar was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totaling fifty years and was moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Island. Savarkar resided in Ratnagiri till 1937, when he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. He started traveling widely, becoming a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity.

Savarkar was critical of the decision taken by the Congress in its Wardha session of 1942, which passed a resolution which said to the British: "Quit India but keep your armies here". Savarkar said it “was the reinstallation of British military rule over India”, which he felt would be much worse. In July 1942, as he felt extremely stressed carrying out his duties as the president of Hindu Mahasabha, and as he needed some rest, he resigned from the post of the president. This coincided with MK Gandhi’s Quit India Movement.

In 1948, Savarkar was charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of MK Gandhi, however, he was acquitted by the court for lack of evidence. Savarkar resurfaced in the popular discourse after the coming of the BJP into power in 1998, and again in 2014 with the Modi-led BJP government at the center.

In February 1966, Savarkar renounced medicines, food, and water which he termed as atmaarpan (fast until death). Before his death, he had written an article titled "Atmahatya Nahi Atmaarpan" in which he argued “that when one's life mission is over and the ability to serve society is left no more, it is better to end the life at will rather than waiting for death”. He breathed his last on 26th  February 1966 at his residence in Bombay. He was mourned by large crowds that attended his cremation. He left behind a son, Vishwas, and a daughter, Prabha Chiplunkar. His first son, Prabhakar, had died in infancy. His home, possessions and other personal relics have been preserved for public display. His dream was "Akhand Bharat" (United India), purportedly stretching across the entire subcontinent. He had earlier opposed the Partition of India. Savarkar supported Hitler and Mussolini and the establishment of Israel.

The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar's capital was renamed Veer Savarkar International Airport in 2002. A postage stamp in his memory was released in 1970. The Malayalam movie, Kala Paani was made to commemorate his life. Annu Kapoor played the role of Savarkar.

One of Savarkar’s famous quotes is “The sound principle in politics lays down that no form of government or political ‘isms’ is absolutely good or bad under all circumstances to all people alike”. Importantly, he said: “Bharat’s relation with foreign countries depends upon our own national interest and security policies instead of the choice of government of foreign countries”.

I bow towards such a great man who sacrificed his life for our great county, now it is our turn to remember him and not let him get buried in the sands of time.


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