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Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam* 
As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 
Instead of being ashamed of such a heinous crime, it resorts to lies, ably expressed in the proverb: The pot calling the kettle black!
Let us compare the RSS claim of innocence in Gandhiji's assassination with the views of the first home minister and deputy Prime Minister of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the perpetrators of this crime. It needs no reminding that the Sardar continues to be a favourite of the RSS and the present PM Narendra Modi, who ensured construction of his statue in Gujarat, the tallest in the world. It is another thing that he never thought of such a statue for Gandhiji. 
The PM, an Atmanirbhar Bharat messiah, never misses to utter prophetic words like Make in India, yet, it is a fact that he got the Sardar statue’s outer cover to be moulded in a Chinese iron foundry.
Following is the compilation in chronological order the communications of Sardar Patel's home ministry, his letters to Jawaharlal Nehru, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the then head of Hindu Mahasabha) and MS Golwalkar (the then Supremo of the RSS) on Gandhiji's assassination. 
This chronological presentation clearly shows how Sardar Patel developed his understanding (which must have been based on facts supplied by his officials) on the role of the organizations involved in Gandhiji's assassination.

February 4, 1948: Government communiqué banning RSS

The order of banning RSS issued by the Sardar's ministry was unequivocal in holding the former responsible for terror activities. It read:
"Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS 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." (Cited in “Justice on Trial”, RSS, Bangalore, 1962, pp. 65-66.)

February 27, 1948: Sardar Patel’s letter to Nehru

In the early days of investigation when all facts were not known the Sardar told Nehru:
"All the main accused have given long and detailed statements of their activities. In one case, the statement extends to ninety typed pages. From their statements, it is quite clear that no part of the conspiracy took place in Delhi… It also clearly emerges from these statements that the RSS was not involved at all. It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that (hatched) the conspiracy and saw it through. It also appears that the conspiracy was limited to some ten men, of whom all except two have been got hold of.”
The RSS and its supporters quote a part of the above letter which read: "It also clearly emerges from these statements that the RSS was not involved at all", but hide the following text of the same letter which is very significant. The letter continues:
"In the case of secret organization like the RSS which has no records, registers, etc. securing of authentic information whether a particular individual is active worker or not is rendered a very difficult task." (Shankar, V, “Sardar Patel: Select Correspondence 1945-50”, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1977, p 283-85)
How to identify an RSS member?
Sardar Patel raised a highly significant question about knowing whether a criminal or terrorist is a member of RSS or not. Whenever a linkage between a criminal activity and RSS is exposed, the latter comes out with the patent answer that the criminal is not RSS member. 
Whenever linkage between criminal activity and RSS is exposed, the latter comes out with the patent answer that the criminal is not RSS member
How do we know it? Is there an authenticated list of RSS members which can be perused for such an investigation by the state? If it is not there, how RSS can file cases against those who find RSS members indulging in the assassinations and terrorist activities? In such cases the police and judiciary should demand from RSS proof that such persons were not its members.

July 18, 1948: Sardar Patel’s letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

As investigation progressed Sardar found that Hindu Mahasabha and RSS were jointly responsible for the murder of Gandhiji which was corroborated by him in a letter to a prominent leader of Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. On July 18, 1948 the Sardar wrote:
"As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. 
"There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure. " (Letter 64 in “Sardar Patel: Select Correspondence1945-1950”, volume 2, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1977, pp 276-77)

September 19, 1948: Sardar Patel’s letter to Golwalkar

By September 19, 1948, exactly 214 days after the murder of Gandhiji, when the Sardar wrote this letter, the role of the organizations in the assassination of Gandhiji was clearer to him. Without mincing words he told Golwalkar:
"Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing…Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. 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 fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS… Since then, over six months have elapsed. We had hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path.
 But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot." (Cited in “Justice on Trial”, RSS, Bangalore, 1962, pp. 26-28)
Do we need more proofs to prove the RSS involvement in the murder of Gandhiji?
Another contemporary, a senior ICS (predecessor of IAS) who was the first home secretary of Uttar Pradesh corroborated the fact that RSS was involved in this anti-national heinous crime. According to him:
"Came January 30, 1948 when the Mahatma, that supreme apostle of peace, felt to a bullet fired by an RSS fanatic. The tragic episode left me sick at heart." (Rajeshwar Dayal, “A Life of Our Times”, Orient Longman, p 94)
The RSS’ hatred for Gandhi is as old as the formation of the RSS itself. Dr KB Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, was a Congress leader but parted company with the latter in 1925. After meeting the Hindutva icon VD Savarkar, he realised that Gandhi was the biggest hurdle in the Hindutva project of organising Hindus separately. According to an RSS publication, since Gandhi worked for Hindu-Muslim unity, “Doctorji sensed danger in that move. In fact, he did not even relish the new-fangled slogan of ‘Hindu-Muslim unity”. 
Another RSS publication corroborates the fact that the main reason behind Hedgewar’s parting with the Congress and formation of the RSS was because the “Congress believed in Hindu-Muslim unity.” (Seshadri, HV [ed], “Dr Hedgewar, the Epoch-Maker: A Biography”, p 61, and Pingle, HV [ed], “Smritikan: Parm Pujiye Dr Hedgewar ke Jeevan kee Vibhinn Ghatnaon kaa Sankalan”, p 93)
The RSS launched its English organ, “Organiser”, in July 1947 and a perusal of its issues till the murder of Gandhi on January 30, 1948 shows a flood of articles and sketches full of hatred for Gandhiji. The RSS seemed to be competing with the Hindu Mahasabha leader, Savarkar, and the Muslim League English organ, “The Dawn”, in denigrating Gandhi.
Modi, Sitaramaiah
Modi was in Goa in June 2013 for the BJP executive committee meeting. He as Gujarat chief minister sent a message to the All India Hindu Convention for Establishment of Hindu Nation, organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) at Goa from June 7. Modi's message lauding the conference for establishing a Hindu nation read:
“It is our tradition to remain alert and raise a voice against persecution…Only by protecting our culture, can the flag of 'dharma' and unity be kept intact. Organisations inspired by nationalism, patriotism and devotion for the Nation are true manifestations of people's power.”
On the third day from the same dais in this convention from where Modi's felicitation message was read, one of the prominent speakers, KV Sitaramiah, a seasoned RSS cadre declared that Gandhi was 'terrible, wicked and most sinful'. Rejoicing the killing of MK Gandhi, he went on to declare:
“As Bhagwan Shri Krishna said in the Gita, Paritranaya Sadhunam Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam/ Dharamasansthapnaya Sambhavami Yuge-Yuge (For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age) On… 30th January 1948 evening, Shriram came in the form of Nathuram Godse and ended the life of Gandhi.”
It is to be noted that KV Sitaramaiah has also authored a book titled “Gandhi was Dharma Drohi [anti-religion] and Desa Drohi [anti-religion]” in which the back cover text, quoting from the epic Mahabharat, demands "Dharma Drohis must be killed", "Not killing the deserved to be killed is great sin", and "where the members of Parliament seeing clearly allow to kill Dharma and truth as untruth, those members will be called dead".
It is death-knell for the destiny of a democratic-secular India which was established to fulfill dreams of Gandhiji that India is being ruled by a sectarian group which was born out of hatred for him, played leading role in the assassination of Gandhiji and continues to celebrate his 'vadh'; sacrifice done for a good cause. Let us take a firm vow on the 73rd martyrdom anniversary of Gandhiji that all of us will rise up to challenge the Hindutva juggernaut.
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*Formerly with the Delhi University, click here for Prof Islam’s writings and video interviews/debates. Facebook: https://facebook.com/shamsul.islam.332. Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/

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