Should Veer Savarkar be conferred Bharat Ratna?


Justice Markandey Katju

A typical modus operandi of British authorities during British rule was this : when they spotted an Indian who made fiery speeches or wrote fiery articles against British rule they would arrest him on trumped up charges, manufacture evidence and get the accused sentenced to long periods in jail through their biased judges.

In jail the person would be given harsh treatment, solitary confinement, beatings, etc. This would usually ‘ soften up ‘  the detenue, and he would emerge as a tame person, often as a secret British agent after a secret deal with the British authorities.

This happened with many persons—M.N.Roy, Aurobindo Ghose, Veer Savarkar and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

In 1908 a bomb blast killed a British barrister’s wife and daughter in Alipore in Calcutta.. In the Alipore Bomb case Khudiram Bose was hanged, while Prafulla Chaki committed suicide when cornered.

Aurobindo, who was a fiery revolutionary before this incident, was arrested for planning this incident on trumped up charges, and sentenced to jail. When he came out of jail he was no longer a revolutionary but had become a spiritualist, preaching nonsense like ‘ Integral Yoga ‘ ( see Life Divine )
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was a fiery person who said ‘ Swaraj is my birthright and I will have it ‘.

He praised Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki in his newspaper, and for this was tried for sedition and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. When he came out of jail, he had mellowed, and was no longer the same man. He gave up the demand for Swaraj and became a Home Ruler.

M.N. Roy was known to be getting money from the British. The same happened with Savarkar.

This revolutionary was arrested in 1910 and sentenced to two life terms in jail, and sent to Andaman Islands, where he was softened up.

On November 14, 1913, Savarkar sought clemency while lodged in Andamans’ Cellular Jail. In his letter, asking for forgiveness, he described himself as a “prodigal son” longing to return to the “parental doors of the government”.

He wrote that his release from the jail will recast the faith of many Indians in the British rule.

Also he said “Moreover, my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide.

I am ready to serve the government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would be.

By keeping me in jail, nothing can be got in comparison to what would be otherwise.”

In 1920, the Indian National Congress and leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded his  release.

Savarkar signed a statement endorsing his trial, verdict and British law, and renouncing violence, a bargain for freedom.

On being released in 1921 Savarkar ceased being a revolutionary, and became an ardent champion of Hindu militancy, thus serving the British divide and rule policy.

He became President of the Hindu Mahasabha; and during the Second World War advanced the slogan ‘ Hinduize all politics, and militarize Hindus ‘.

Obviously this was in furtherance of a secret deal he had struck with the British for his release.

And this is the man for whom Bharat Ratna is proposed.

Hari Om