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The real architects of India’s Freedom – what our history had hidden from us

“A person without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”-Marcus Garvey.

India is the world’s oldest civilization which may be at least 8000 years old with a rich history full of tales of valor of its own inhabitants. Yet, our history was written in a manner to glorify our invaders – the Islamic invaders from the 12th Century BCE to the British in the 18th Century, and make the original inhabitants of India, the Hindus appear weak and submissive. Such a narrative created a permanent awe and admiration in the minds of the average Indian populace for the Islamists and Westerners so much so that they find the former more credible than the indigenous Hindus. Hence, even after handing over physical independence, they continued to rule over the minds of the average Indian, who were more than happy to accept their slavery and eulogize them.

Coupled with this is another historical fallacy which has been grilled and pumped into the minds of Indians – that of the Congress being the only Nationalist Party in pre-independence India, who won India her freedom from the British colonial rule and the Sangh Parivar, in whatever form they existed then, were British stooges!

The following discourse will reveal how far the above statement is true, if at all it is true.

The Congress Falsehood

India’s first war of independence in 1857, which the British tried to belittle by calling it merely a ‘Sepoy Mutinee’ had shaken the very foundation of the British Empire so much so that they thought of creating a ‘safety valve’ to mitigate/neutralize such revolts in the future. The control of India was transferred from the East India Company directly to the British Empire immediately after the 1857 rebellion. However, the British, living under the nightmare of many such nationalistic revolts, roped in a retired British Indian Civil Servant, Alan Octavian Hume to form the Indian National Congress on December 28, 1885 with 72 delegates in attendance, Hume as it’s General Secretary and W.C. Bonnerjee as the elected President. Besides Hume, two additional British members (both Scottish civil servants) were part of the founding group, William Wedderburn and Justice (later, Sir) John Jardine. They were, in all probability, inducted to maintain British control over the Congress. Hume, in his 1883 letter, clearly enunciated the purpose of the Indian National Congress, that of acting as a bridge between the British colonial rulers and the Indians, acting as a platform for these Indians to voice their opinions and reservations on matters of administration, which would help the British to govern better, anticipate any kind of grievance or upheaval from the end of the Indians and nip it in the bud to prevent a repeat of 1857. Hume was careful in picking up those English educated elites, starting with reaching out to the selected alumni of the University of Calcutta, who were well fitted to the purpose as mentioned above. For years, more specifically in the 19th century, the Congress thrived under the patronage of the British and the rising class of Indians and Anglo Indians educated in the English language based British traditions. One may draw parallels between them and those in modern times whom we refer to as ‘The Liberals’ or the Lutyens Brigade. Their role was limited to negotiating with the British and obtaining certain concessions or privileges for the Indians, particularly the educated middle class, which made life easier for both themselves and the British. These moderates exhibited no intention of attaining complete independence by driving the British out of India completely. Despite, their dependency on the British colonial rulers and looking upto them overtly and covertly as their masters, the Congress has, all along been portrayed as a nationalistic party which won us freedom!

 

Savarkar and the Significance of India’s armed struggle against the British

The real Indian nationalists were not in sync with the Congress’s programme of negotiating and gaining a few advantages from the British. They did not desire to go to the British with a begging bowl. They would settle for nothing less than the ‘Purna Swaraj’ or Complete Independence, as called for by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The pioneer of this school of thought is none other than Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar – the name which has become an emotion, a nationalistic stimulation for all patriots cutting across age and time. Yet he was the one who was demonized by the post-independence historians -called a traitor, all with a definite malicious agenda.

When a few months of confinement on account of the Covid pandemic induced lockdown, in company with our near and dear ones, with full access to the outside world through television and internet, had become so unbearable for us to the extent of being mentally distressed, just Just think of someone who was imprisoned in a distant island far removed from the mainland, locked in solitary confinement, where the only visual available to him was that of his co prisoners being hanged, a prison sentence during which he was made to perform such arduous tasks like churning oil using oxen and if he failed to perform his task in the manner desired by the jail authorities, he would be caned. The conditions in the jail were pathetic where religious discrimination was rampant, and the inmates were forced to convert even for trivialities or bribe the authorities for even using the toilet. He remained under such conditions, which would have shaken and broken most, for a period of 14 years, yet never ever deviated from his path of serving his mother nation, a vow which he had taken as a teenager, in front of his Kul Devi, Mata Ashta Bhavani, and kept on writing his memoirs and treatise while still dwelling in cellular jail in the most inhuman of all conditions, which would inspire nationalists for generations to come. This man was none other than Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. If anybody deserves to be addressed as Veer, it’s him. Yet the progressive ‘liberals’ of our society, brainwashed with a whitewashed version of our history prefer to call him a ‘traitor’!

He was the pioneer of the Boycott Movement during the 1905 Partition of Bengal, wherein he organized a bonfire in Pune to burn foreign clothes which led to his rustication from college. He moved to London to study law with a scholarship and helped in providing a stimulus to India’s armed struggle for freedom under the aegis of the India House, assimilating an intellectual corpus comprising of the likes of Lala Hardayal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Virendra Nath Chattopadhyay (brother of Sarojini Naidu), Madame Bikaji Cama, V.V.S Aiyar, M.P.T Acharya and P.M. Bapat. He believed in the theory of the enemy of the enemy being one’s friend and hence befriended Britain’s staunch enemy during the World Wars, Germany, playing a key role in the Hindu-German conspiracy for nationalist movement in India during World War I through the India House network.

He was deeply influenced by the Irish revolutionaries and Italian revolutionaries; Giuseppe Mazzini and Garibaldi having translated the biography of Mazzini in Marathi. Inspired by Mazzini’s Young Italy Movement of indoctrination of Italian soldiers into the Austrian Army, he advocated the indoctrination of Indian soldiers into the British Army so that so that when the time is ripe, a revolt of those indoctrinated soldiers would help in shattering the colonisers leading to their fall and subsequent exit, something which India’s first war of independence in 1857 almost did.

Savarkar formed the Abhinav Bharat Society, which, along with it’s peaceful ‘cover’, the Free India Society rapidly developed into a radical meeting ground at the India House. The outbuilding of India House was converted to a “war workshop” where chemistry students attempted to produce explosives and manufacture bombs, while the printing press turned out “seditious” literature, including bomb-making manuals, one of which was assumed to have been acquired from Hem Chandra Das of the Anushilan Samiti through a Russian revolutionary in Paris, and pamphlets promoting violence toward Europeans in India. The residents of India House and members of Abhinav Bharat practiced shooting at a range in Tottenham Court Road in central London, and rehearsed assassinations they planned to carry out. The deliveries of weapons to India included, among others, a number of Browning pistols smuggled by Chaturbhuj Amin, Chanjeri Rao, and V. V. S. Aiyar when they returned to India. Revolutionary literature was shipped under false covers and from different addresses to prevent detection by Indian postal authorities.

Savarkar was the first to recognize the 1857 revolt as India’s first war of independence, thus quashing the British narrative of calling it a mere Sepoy Mutiny-a narrative which the post- independence historians too, propagated. His book, The Indian War of Independence was published (in 1909) and was considered inflammatory enough to be removed from the catalogue of the British Library to prevent Indian students from accessing it.

 

Savarkar’s arrest and the reason behind his petitions

Savarkar was arrested by the British authorities in 1910, in connection with the revolutionary activities of the India House, after Madan Lal Dhingra killed a British official, William Wylie, and was ordered to be extradited to India. While travelling to India, he tried to escape and seek asylum in France when the ship in which he was travelling, was docked in Marseilles. But the French port officials handed him back to the British in contravention of international law. On return to India, Savarkar was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment totalling fifty years and was moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands known as ‘Kalapani’ in those days. He was given an unfair trial with no jury fixed.

Savarkar realized that he would be of no use to the nation and to the Hindus if he remained imprisoned. Hence he started planning for his release writing petitions to the British authorities, seeking his own release and that of his fellow inmates. He wrote four petitions, one in 1911, i.e after an year of imprisonment, then again in 1914, 1917 and the final one in 1920. However, his petitions were rejected by the British every time and in 1920, they contemplated releasing his brother, Ganesh Savarkar but not him, with the idea that the latter would not conduct himself in a manner to incur the wrath of the British as long as his brother is under their custody. In May, 1921, the Savarkar brothers were taken to Ratnagiri jail from the Cellular Jail and finally released from jail in 1924, though kept under house arrest in Ratnagiri till 1936.

The Congress and the Leftist Historians began their negative portrayal of Savarkar by alleging that the petitions that he wrote to the British were mercy petitions, wherein he promised to serve their interests after being released. This allegation is totally false because he wrote about the rights of all his fellow prisoners not just himself. It is believed that he undertook to distance himself from all revolutionary activities post his release. He had to bargain with the British and secure his release because wasting himself away by staying in prison would serve our mother nation no useful purpose. Can the Congress name any of its leader who ever had to face the kind of brutality that Savarkar faced during his years in the Cellular Jail?

If Savarkar was a British stooge, then they would not have kept him under house arrest even after his release or spy on him. Savarkar was considered to be the most dangerous criminal, ‘D’ category, by the British. They feared him because he carried the most dangerous weapon which could cause the British maximum damage – no, not a gun, his weapon was his pen. Even after performing the arduous task of churning coconut oil in prison and then being caned, he would come back to his cell and write nationalistic poetry. But our cruel history remembers him for his petitions but not for his inspiring poetry.

The triumvirate who actually won India her freedom

Contrary to the Congress-Left cabal of historians who gave us to believe that there was a division of thoughts and ideologies amongst our revolutionaries who neither agreed with each other, nor saw eye to eye, the revolutionaries who advocated armed struggle being the only means to liberate India, were very much in communication with each other and had deep admiration for each other. Savarkar’s works inspired our Indian revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Veer Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki and even revolutionary turned philosopher, Rishi Aurobindo and his brother Barin Bose. It has been proved that Bhagat Singh published an English translation of Savarkar’s book “1857- War of Independence” and propagated it among the revolutionaries.

The biggest and most effective collaboration amongst our bravest revolutionaries was that between Veer Savarkar, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Rash Behari Bose, a collaboration which ultimately succeeded in winning India her freedom from British colonial rule. However, this aspect of our history was hidden from us with the intent of belittling/nullifying their efforts while making us believe that it was Gandhiji’s Non-violence movement which was solely responsible for freeing India from the clutches of British rule.

Rash Behari Bose was inspired by Savarkar whom he got to know through his associate, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, the man with whom he had escaped to Japan after throwing a bomb at Lord Hardinge. On 18.11.1937, Savarkar addressed a gathering at Dadar clearly denouncing nonviolence which he considered to be ineffective against violence. Arms were required for self-defence and also for the defence of the nation. He was heading the Hindu Mahasabha at that time. On 29.11.1937, Rash Behari Bose wrote a letter to Savarkar expressing his admiration for the latter. Rash Behari Bose had deep regards for Savarkar’s knowledge of geopolitics. Rash Behari Bose volunteered to launch a chapter of the Hindu Maha Sabha in Japan, which he would go on to head. He stated in no uncertain terms that he had no faith in the Congress, who had exhibited no change in their strategy or tactics to gain independence, during the last 20 years. It seemed that they were functioning merely as British conduits.

Both of them believed that it was absolutely fine taking the help of Britain’s no.1 enemy, Germany, in fighting the British – after all Churchill was no less brutal than Hitler, so why was it wrong to obtain help from the latter? Moreover, Germany kept on helping the Indian revolutionaries even after their loss in the First World War.

Meanwhile, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, after quitting the Congress in 1939, formed the Forward Bloc. He was under the scanner of the British for his aggressive activities against the British, which was in contrast to the Congress’s moderate, negotiating attitude. Congress was nothing more than a negotiating party who were absolutely incapable of lending a fatal blow to the British Empire.

Netaji, who also was deeply influenced by Savarkar and his works, visited him in 1940. Prof Dawrka Nath Bose, Netaji’s nephew, too, confirmed about the said meeting. Savarkar advised him to leave the Indian shores and carry on with his revolutionary activities from foreign soil in collaboration with Rash Behari Bose and with the help of Britain’s enemies- Germany and Japan. Netaji’s potential, he believed, would be wasted rotting in Indian jails if he remained here. It was Savarkar too, who encouraged Indian youth to join the INA.

Netaji was believed to be the ideal person to lead an Army of rebels and achieve freedom from the British. He was handed over the reigns of the Indian Independence League and the Indian National Army (INA) on 4th July 1943. Netaji’s influence was notable. His appeal re-invigorated the INA, which had previously consisted mainly of prisoners of war: it also attracted Indian expatriates in South Asia. He famously proclaimed that Give me blood! I will give you freedom. On that very day, Netaji, in his radio broadcast, approved of Savarkar’s Hindu Militarization plan. Uma Mukherjee’s “Two Great Indian Revolutionaries” and Bhupendra Kishore Rakshit-Ray’s “Bharatiyo Shasastra Biplab” finds mention of the same.

Savarkar and Hindu Militarization

Savarkar has oft been criticized by the Congress-Left cabal for his Hindu militarization drive, for which they branded him a traitor. But little did they realize the reasons for his Hindu Sainikikaran Mandal. The reasons for the same were several:

  1.       To facilitate Armed Revolt – Savarkar was inspired by the Irish and Italian revolutionaries. He believed that inducting enough Hindus in the British Indian Army would help facilitate a revolt in the same, which, in turn, will break the backbone of the British empire.
  2.       Increasing the number of Hindus in the Army which would be necessary post-independence – The ethno-religious composition of the British Indian Army was disproportionately skewed in favour of the Muslims. A far higher percentage of the latter in the Indian Army would have been a disadvantage for the Hindus after independence, who were already weakened by the nonviolence narratives.
  3.       Onward passage to the INA – Savarkar’s Hindu militarization helped train men who formed the lifeblood of the INA subsequently.

It is amazing that the Congress-Left cabal, in collusion with their loyal ‘Progressive-Liberals’ have been constantly vilifying Savarkar for his Hindu Militarization programme. However, this was not much different from Gandhiji’s idea of

It is amazing to note that the Congress-Left Cabal, in collusion with their loyal ‘Progressive Liberal’ brigade have been constantly vilifying Savarkar for his Hindu Militarization Program even when Gandhiji advocated the same principal of recruiting Indian soldiers to serve in the British Indian Army during the First World War. In June 1918, Gandhiji deviated from his own philosophy and wrote in a leaflet titled “Appeal for Enlistment” – “To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them. If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible dispatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army”. He, however, wrote in his letter to the private secretary of the Viceroy that he himself could never think of killing or injuring anyone, friend or foe. This is where he differed from the triumvirate of our freedom movement and all the Armed Revolutionaries striving for complete freedom and also in his idea that India won’t gain anything by Britain’s ruin.

Royal Indian Navy Revolt

With the end of the Second World War, which culminated in the victory of the Allied Forces, began the persecution of the INA brave hearts, specifically facilitated by the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in August, 1945 – a mystery which has remained unsolved till date. The officers of the INA were tried in a series of 10 trials held between November 1945 and May 1946, at the Red Fort, which became infamously known as the INA trials or the Red Fort Trials for charges of torture and murder or abetment of murder. The first and most celebrated amongst these trials was the joint Court Marshall of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. The three had been officers in the British Indian Army and were taken as prisoners of war in Malaya, Singapore and Burma. They had, like a large number of other troops and officers of the British Indian Army, joined the Indian National Army and later fought in Imphal and Burma alongside the Japanese forces in allegiance to Azad Hind. These three came to be the only defendants in the INA trials who were charged with “waging war against the King-Emperor” (the Indian Army Act, 1911 did not provide for a separate charge for treason) as well as murder and abetment of murder.  However, on account of the huge outcry and public sympathy for the defendants, the then Army Chief Field Marshall, Claude Auchinleck was forced to commute their sentences.

The INA trials, the accounts of the exploits of Netaji and the INA during their siege of Imphal and Burma were gradually seeping into public domain. The Indians who were serving in the British Indian Army, Navy and Airforce heard these stories which was enough to inspire them to revolt against their British masters. This, coupled with issues like being served with inferior quality food and general neglect, led to the Royal Indian Navy Revolt on 18th February 1946. The revolt, involving over 20,000 sailors in 78 ships and shore establishments, had its epicentre at Bombay but spread across the length of British India, from Karachi to Calcutta. Soon the Army and the Airforce followed suit.

The revolt assumed magnanimous proportions. Vehicles carrying mail in Bombay were burnt, cars carrying British men and women were stopped and they were forced to chant ‘Jai Hind’. Their slogans were ‘Release 11,000 INA prisoners’ and ‘Jai Hind’. One of the first things that the revolting soldiers did was to free revolutionary Balai Chand Dutta, who was arrested during Auchinleck’s visit and took control of Butcher Island, where the entire ammunition meant for Bombay Presidency was stocked. On 19th February 1946, the Indian tricolour was hoisted on most of the ships and establishments. On 20th February, the revolutionaries had positioned themselves off the Gateway of India.

The Royal Indian Navy Revolt shook the very foundation of the British empire. A worried British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee ordered those revolting to put down the revolt. But the order of Admiral J.H. Godfrey, the Commanding Officer of the RIN, ‘Submit or Perish ‘did not hold ground with the revolting sailors. The revolt spread like wildfire and soon became political. It was, in fact, India’s second War of Independence, which was the trigger for the British colonial rulers to realize that they cannot hold on to India for long with their military going against them. Hence, Savarkar’s idea of inducting Indians into the British Indian Army paid off.

Congress’s stand regarding the RIN Revolt

The revolting sailors got no support from the political leaders of either the Congress or the Muslim League and were largely leaderless. Gandhiji, in fact, denounced the revolt. He even criticized Congress leader, Aruna Asaf Ali, who had supported the revolting sailors. The Muslim League too, criticized the revolt. The emissaries of these two political parties got together in talking the revolting sailors from dropping their movement. The mass support, content and outreach of the movement made them uncomfortable and they asked those revolting to surrender. The revolt was called off following a meeting between the President of the Naval Central Strike Committee (NCSC) and the Congress leadership, who had been sent to Bombay to settle the crisis, which was supported by Jinnah. Under these considerable pressures, the strikers gave way. Arrests were then made, followed by courts martial and the dismissal of 476 sailors from the Royal Indian Navy. None of those dismissed were reinstated into either the Indian or Pakistani navies after independence.

Why did the British leave India – the truth

Our history textbooks authored by the Lutyens-branded historians coerced us into believing that it was Gandhiji’s non-violence movement which compelled the British to leave India. ‘De di hume azadi bina kharg bina kharg bina dal’ as propagated by Bollywood, is what some gullible Indians believe till date. But is this true? There are two such revelations which prove otherwise.

The first revelation – In 1956, Sir Clement Atlee, the British Prime Minister who oversaw India’s independence and was on a pan India tour at that time, answering a question from the former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, P.V. Chakraborty, as to what compelled the British to leave India in 1947 because the popularity of the non-violence movement seemed to have drastically dwindled by then, revealed that there were many reasons for the same – the primary one being weakening loyalty towards the British crown among the Indian Army and the Navy who were inspired and motivated by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s military successes. The Royal Indian Navy Revolt was a manifestation of the same.

The second revelation – In 1967 during a seminar marking the 20th anniversary of our Independence, the British High Commissioner, John Freeman revealed that the Navy revolt of 1946 had raised the fear of another large-scale revolt along the lines of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, from the 2.5 million Indian soldiers who had participated in the Second World War. The RIN thus, had largely contributed towards the British decision to leave India. “The British were petrified of a repeat of the 1857 Mutiny, since this time they feared they would be slaughtered to the last man”.

India did not actually win her independence on 15th August 1947. She was granted Dominion status by the British during transfer of power to the Congress, vide the Indian Independence Act, 1947. It was transformed into the Republic of India by promulgation of the Constitution in 1950. This again revealed the Congress’s tendency to settle for the crumbs thrown at them by the British.

The above facts are irrefutable. Yet the Leftist historians created their own narrative in the cover of our nation’s history which forced us to believe that the real British interlocutors, the Congress, were a nationalistic party, which won us freedom while the actual protagonists of our freedom were either merely a freedom fighter, who escaped and died ignominiously (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose) or a British agent (Veer Vinayak Savarkar) or need not be remembered at all (Rash Behari Bose). The time is now prime for the nation to know the truth, which was reversed and presented to them.

 

References:

  1. i)    Savarkar: The Echos from a Forgotten Past, 1883-1924 – Vikram Sampat
  2. ii)   Two Great Indian Revolutionaries – Uma Mukherjee
  3. iii)  Bharatiyo Shasastra Biplab – Bhupendra Kishore Rakshit-Ray
  4. iv)  Freedom, won by himsa or ahimsa? – “Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar: The Economic Times, 2007
  5. v)   Jawaharlal Nehru, a Biography – Sankar Ghose.
  6. vi)  The real reason why British quit India in 1947 – Animesh Pandey: The First Post, January 23, 2020

Authored By: Ranita Chanda Majumdar

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