Savarkar kept mum about Bhagat Singh’s hanging while Nehru, Bose tried their best to save him

The Hindutva forces have been shamelessly trying to appropriate Bhagat Singh, a Marxist, for quite some time now

File photo of Shaheed Bhagat Singh
File photo of Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Tathagata Bhattacharya

Hindutva poster-boy Vinayak Damodar Savarkar did not speak a word about the hanging of Marxist revolutionary Bhagat Singh or other revolutionary martyrs, noted historian Chaman Lal, who has brought to light Bhagat Singh’s lesser known works, told a national daily recently.

“It is a historical fact that none of the so-called religious organisations or religion-oriented political organisations spoke a word in favour of the revolutionaries, either in their lifetime or after their hanging. A whole lot of people, including Jinnah, spoke during Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ hunger strikes in jail and after their hanging. Savarkar did not utter a word at the hanging of the revolutionaries, whereas Periyar not only wrote the first editorial on this in his Tamil journal Kudai Arasu, he also arranged to get the Tamil translation of ‘Why I am an Atheist’ published in 1934. Only the national leaders of Congress or Communist parties expressed anger and anguish at their brutal treatment in jails during their hunger strikes or at their hanging,” the daily quoted him.

Lal also went on to say that Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose also made passionate efforts to save Bhagat Singh who preferred Nehru’s rational ideas on socialism over that of Bose.

The paper quotes the historian, “…one can say that Gandhi did make efforts but not with the passion of Nehru and Bose…Bhagat Singh preferred Jawaharlal Nehru’s rational ideas about socialism. Subhas Bose was also socialist, but according to Bhagat Singh, he was more emotional and Nehru was more of a rationalist and realist. That is why he thought of Bose as a rebel and Nehru as a revolutionary. He had excellent relations with both of them, and at a personal level, more with Subhas Bose. But he wanted the youth to follow the rational thinking of Nehru.”

Incidentally, Nehru has been a principal target of the RSS-BJP’s vilification campaign right from the word go. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seldom known for stating facts, during the Karnataka Assembly election campaign in May, 2018, said no Congress leader ever went to meet Bhagat Singh in jail. However, it was soon pointed out that Nehru’s meeting with Singh and his comrades in prison on August 8, 1929 was very well documented and widely reported.

Since the RSS and the Hindutva Parivar had zero contribution to India’s struggle for Independence, the RSS-BJP combine with its army of IT Cell workers has been compelled to appropriate icons of the freedom struggle from other parties. They have done this by peddling fake news and profiting from their virality factor. While Congressmen like MK Gandhi, who was killed by Hindutva pin-up star Nathuram Godse, and Sardar Patel, the man who banned the RSS, have been steady targets, even a Marxist revolutionary martyr like Bhagat Singh has not been spared. It is common to see the RSS-BJP’s hate mongers on social media sporting Bhagat Singh’s photograph as their profile picture and spew out lines like “Sickular, Libtard, Leftie, Commie traitor spotted”. Strange. Isn’t it?

They obviously know nothing about the history of India’s freedom movement and believe Whatsapp forwards from the Hindutva fake factory as gospels of truth. But Bhagat Singh himself had put paid to any future attempt by the Hindutva nationalists to appropriate him through his many write-ups. Amongst them, “Why I am an atheist” is possibly the most famous. Here are some excerpts from the same:

“Open your eyes and see millions of people dying of hunger in slums and huts dirtier than the grim dungeons of prisons; just see the labourers patiently or say apathetically while the rich vampires suck their blood; bring to mind the wastage of human energy that will make a man with a little common sense shiver in horror. Just observe rich nations throwing their surplus produce into the sea instead of distributing it among the needy and deprived. There are palaces of kings built upon the foundations laid with human bones. Let them see all this and say ‘All is well in God’s Kingdom.’ Why so? This is my question. You are silent. All right. I proceed to my next point.

You, the Hindus, would say: Whosoever undergoes sufferings in this life, must have been a sinner in his previous birth. It is tantamount to saying that those who are oppressors now were Godly people then, in their previous births. For this reason alone they hold power in their hands. Let me say it plainly that your ancestors were shrewd people. They were always in search of petty hoaxes to play upon people and snatch from them the power of reason.

I ask why your Omnipotent God does not hold a man back when he is about to commit a sin or offence. It is child’s play for God. Why did He not kill war lords? Why did He not obliterate the fury of war from their minds? In this way He could have saved humanity of many a great calamity and horror. Why does He not infuse humanistic sentiments into the minds of the Britishers so that they may willingly leave India? I ask why He does not fill the hearts of all capitalist classes with altruistic humanism that prompts them to give up personal possession of the means of production and this will free the whole labouring humanity from the shackles of money. You want to argue the practicability of Socialist theory, I leave it to your Almighty God to enforce it. Common people understand the merits of Socialist theory as far as general welfare is concerned but they oppose it under the pretext that it cannot be implemented. Let the Almighty step in and arrange things in a proper way. No more logic chopping! I tell you that the British rule is not there because God willed it but for the reason that we lack the will and courage to oppose it. Not that they are keeping us under subjugation with the consent of God, but it is with the force of guns and rifles, bombs and bullets, police and militia, and above all because of our apathy that they are successfully committing the most deplorable sin, that is, the exploitation of one nation by another. Where is God? What is He doing? Is He getting a diseased pleasure out of it? A Nero! A Genghis Khan! Down with Him!

As regard the origin of God, my thought is that man created God in his imagination when he realised his weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings. In this way he got the courage to face all the trying circumstances and to meet all dangers that might occur in his life and also to restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God, with his whimsical laws and parental generosity was painted with variegated colours of imagination. He was used as a deterrent factor when his fury and his laws were repeatedly propagated so that man might not become a danger to society. He was the cry of the distressed soul for he was believed to stand as father and mother, sister and brother, brother and friend when in time of distress a man was left alone and helpless. He was Almighty and could do anything. The idea of God is helpful to a man in distress.

Society must fight against this belief in God as it fought against idol worship and other narrow conceptions of religion. In this way man will try to stand on his feet. Being realistic, he will have to throw his faith aside and face all adversaries with courage and valour. That is exactly my state of mind. My friends, it is not my vanity; it is my mode of thinking that has made me an atheist. I don’t think that by strengthening my belief in God and by offering prayers to Him every day, (this I consider to be the most degraded act on the part of man) I can bring improvement in my situation, nor can I further deteriorate it. I have read of many atheists facing all troubles boldly, so I am trying to stand like a man with the head high and erect to the last; even on the gallows.

Let us see how steadfast I am. One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, ‘When your last days come, you will begin to believe.’ I said, ‘No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.’ Reader and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.”

The story was first published on September 28, 2019

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Published: 28 Sep 2019, 12:13 PM