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Warning bell for Gandhians: Social media trends praise Godse, call Mahatma casteist, racist

By Rajiv Shah
As I was scanning through Sabrang India, a website run by well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, I came across a post pointing towards how, on the Gandhi Jayanti day, #नाथूराम_गोडसे_जिंदाबाद (#Nathram_Godse_Zindabad) was trending on Twitter. I don’t know if it was among the top trends of the day, but what is interesting is, while some of the those who were posting anti-Gandhi tweets praising Gandhi’s murderer, others called Gandhi racist and casteist, still others blaming him for India's partition. 
Thus, a Facebook friend, who has been showing extreme sensitivity towards caste violence shared a story of what an Indian American Dalit writer Sujatha Gidla, speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival said on January 29, 2018 -- that Gandhi was a “casteist and racist”, that he wanted to “preserve the caste system and paid lip service to Dalit upliftment for political gain.” Gilda added, “Gandhi only wished to ‘prettify’ the caste system, and abolish it.”
In yet another example, another FB friend, who as an excellent journalist has never cared to compromise with the powers-that-be, appeared to state what many in the saffron brigade have long been suggesting – that Gandhi is responsible for India’s partition. This FB friend, whom I have known intimately, wondered why “everybody” was “going ga ga” on the Gandhi Jayanti day. “Why?”, he asked.
“Is he not the man whose freedom movement resulted in partition and massive displacement of people from Sindh, Punjab and Bengal?” the FB post said, insisting, Gandhi “can never qualify to be an Indian icon”, that he “only appealed to the colonialists, who never saw a nanga faqir like this”, though ended by saying, “By the way I do not owe allegiance to the Sanghis.”
Meanwhile, a little-known Gujarati news portal, Mera News, edited by one of the best Gujarati journalists, Prashant Dayal, commenting on social media attacks Gandhi, wondered why have we come a point when anyone calling Gandhi names is taken as a norm, but if you criticise goondas, you are not spared. It added, those who put out posts calling Gandhi names have never ever cared to read a page of history of Indian freedom struggle.
Very true. But surely it’s a dangerous trend, infecting even Dalit rights activists. A case in point is a well-known grassroots Valmiki social activist, whom I have known for about five or six years. What this Valmiki activist, who has been taking up the cause of manual scavengers in Gujarat, said in his FB post about three years ago should serve as a warning bell for Gandhians of all hues, suggesting towards a dangerous trend taking shape, accelerated amidst a sharp upswing of information explosion, especially through the social media.
This Dalit rights activist, justifying Nathuram Godse murdering Mahatma Gandhi, said on October 3, 2017, said, he had gone to a Dalit rally in Dholka, where he came to know “for the first time how Gandhi pressured Babasaheb Ambedkar into giving up the demand for separate electorate for Dalits, allowing us to elect our own representatives to legislatures."
"Gandhi betrayed us Dalits. This was pretty evident. This angered me. Why did Gandhi, who is called a Mahatma, blackmail Ambedkar like this this? In my angry mood, I began surfing FB, and I found on that day a post justifying Godse killing Gandhi. I copied it and posted it on my timeline", he told me, though adding, I didn't know the implications, when brought to light, he decided to delete the FB post.

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