From Archives – M.K. Gandhi’s reactions on Mob-Violence

A satyagrahi will always try to overcome evil by good, anger by love, untruth by truth, himsa by ahimsa. There is no other way of purging the world of evil-M.K. Gandhi YI, 8-8-29, 263

On 30th January 1948, while Mahatma Gandhi was going to attend prayer meeting, a young man killed him by firing three bullets at point-blank range. The Assassin was later identified as Nathuram. He was sentenced to death on 8 November 1949, and was hanged in the Ambala Central Jail on 15 November 1949.

Few Observations:

Justice G D Khosla who was involved in the Gandhi murder case trial, mentions in his book The Murder of the Mahatma,

“I have no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority”.

Justice Khosla’s observation about the audience points to a specific direction, that there were many Indians of that time who were resentful of the prevailing circumstances and the role Gandhi played in those trying times in the run up to his tragic killing. It is a matter of inquiry, why an overwhelming majority of that time held assassin ‘not guilty’. After all he had committed a heinous crime of cold blooded murder of Father of the Nation and a Mahatma. Unfortunately, the tragic killing of Gandhi diverted attention from those uncomforting questions.

As the old proverb goes there is no smoke without fire, there must have been something controversial and provocative in testimony and trial proceedings of Nathuram Godse, which triggered successive Congress governments in Delhi and states to censor it for nearly 30 years. Later, Congress governments also banned memoirs of Gopal Godse that was published in 1967. Gopal Godse was co-accused and sentenced to life in prison.

Since 1989 till 2013, a Marathi play Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy by Pradeep Dalvi remained at receiving end of secular Establishment, though it continued to remain popular among audience.

From 1948 to 2019, many generations remained ignorant of actual events that led to Gandhi’s assassination. They had limited exposure to above documents due to censorship and were mostly brought up reading government dictated one sided history. It is worthwhile to note that tons of paper and ink has been used before and after transfer of power from British to Congress to assiduously build image of Mahatma as Mahatma we know.

It is a fact that school and college going students in particular and public in general were only fed Congress Government/ Establishment dictated version of greatness of assassinated, while keeping a tight lid on assassin’s point of view. Quite an effort must have gone into keeping darker side of belly under wrap.

Recently during peak of 2019 election season, when Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, a monk falsely accused in Hindu-terror conspiracy of Congress, remembered Nathuram Godse as a DeshBhakt –Patriot, it was natural that old controversy would again ignite passions of people sitting of both sides of fence.

Yet again, a section of audience whom Justice Khosla called overwhelming majority, came forward to support Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. This opinion of overwhelming majority was basically always Anti-Establishment in nature. This opinion was neither in tune with Congress government of 1948, nor in tune with opinion of BJP Government and Prime Minister of day in 2014. That it has survived for 71 years against overarching powers of Establishment is puzzling and surprising at same time.

So it would be prudent to re-examinee the historical events from authentic sources, and analyse the most prominent events having important bearing on civilizational existence of Hindus that occurred during Gandhi’s active political lifetime. As a towering leader of India’s struggle for Independence, Gandhi’s attitude, response and reactions to these events carried indelible impact on psyche of affected. It is hoped that this re-examination might also lead us to source from where this overwhelming majority opinion has been deriving strength, in spite of continuous attempts to stifle it.

Dr. Ambedkar on Gandhi:

In year 1945, Dr. Ambedkar wrote and published a well-researched and well-quoted book PAKISTAN OR THE PARTITION OF INDIA. His critique and analysis of Islam in PART IV- PAKISTAN AND THE MALAISE of this book has stood the test of time and remains relevant even today to understand Psyche of Muslims not only in India but across the globe.

However it is quite intriguing that hardly any critique, commentary, writings or speeches of Congress leaders of that time, including Gandhi are available in public domain on Islam and Muslims psyche. While same Gandhi and other Congress stalwarts have done innumerable critique of Hinduism in their writings.

This hypocrisy of Gandhi (and Congress) is exposed by Baba Saheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, statesman par excellence, in his candid interview to BBC in February 1955, full seven years after Assassination of Gandhi. He explains how Gandhi used to publish two papers, namely ‘Harijan’ in English language for consumption of world and English speaking people, portraying progressive image, as opponent of caste system, untouchability and votary of democracy. Whereas in his Gujarati paper ‘Deenbandhu’ he becomes an orthodox man, supporting caste system, Verna and dogmas that kept India down for ages. In this Interview, Dr. Ambedkar tears apart the very image of Mahatma assiduously built by Congress among Indians.

What Dr. Ambedkar explains in 1955, is well argued and well noted by Anand Ranganathan in his article ‘Dismantling Sainthood: Ambedkar On Gandhi-Swarajya magazine, Apr 14, 2018’. Mr. Anand sums up Gandhi’s true character, “In the contest between Ambedkar and Gandhi, the man who truly was a Mahatma fought a man pretending to be one.” If written in straight English, it would mean Mahatma Gandhi was not a Mahatma, rather he was epitome of Hypocrisy.

Gandhi’s Support for Khilafat movement and 1921 Moplah riots

Satish Viswanathan in his article, in Swarajaya Magazine describes in great details Gandhi’s support to radical Islamists of Aligarh Muslim University and Muslim leaders of Indian National Congress, namely Shaukat Ali, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad) for Khilafat Movement- A call of from these radical Islamist leaders to Hindustani ummah for re-establishing of Caliphate in Turkey. A well educated person of that time, who understood history of Islamic invasion of Bharatiya civilization and having adequate knowledge of Islamic theological concepts of Jihad and Gazwa-E-Hind would have desisted from supporting any radical Islam inspired movement that supported Islamic Caliphate. Mr. Viswanathan argues that Genocides Armenians in Ottoman Empire were deliberately ignored by Gandhi and Congress, while supporting Khilafat movement. Later Congress whitewashed and sanitised this Jihadi-movement from history books using pseudo-historians like Bipan Chandra  and Irfan Habib. He writes

“Leftist historians view the Khilafat movement rather favourably. Bipan Chandra argues that the movement brought urban Muslims into the nationalist movement and there was nothing wrong in taking up a demand that affected Muslims only. Irfan Habib says that it was necessary to support Turkey in order to fight European imperialism. But none of them have ever described the Khilafat movement for what it truly was – an agitation which backed one of the worst genocidal regimes in the history of human kind and a movement which reinforced the religious identity of the Indian Muslim.”

Finally like many other radical Islamists supported movements, Khilafat movement also turned into violent Jihad against Kafirs of Moplah, (Moplah is a Malabar region of South India, now part of Kerala). Genocide of non-Muslims in Moplah started in August 1921 and continued unabated for next six months. Under leadership and provocation of Khilafat proponent Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, Muslim mobs did mass murder and rape of Hindu and Christian neighbours, matching or superseding brutalities of Tipu-Sultan’s Genocide of Malabari Hindus in year 1783.

Wikipedia page Malabar rebellion, sub-heading Nature of crimes lists the kind of brutalities committed by Muslim mobs against men, women and children of other faiths. The nature and types of brutalities committed in this genocide are well documented in a book by Gopalan Nair ‘The Moplah Rebellion 1921’ published in 1924. In recent times Jihadi brutalities that have been documented from ISIS camps against Yazidis, match the level cruelties against non-kinsmen in Moplah. Page 52, Appendix IX of this book captures the nature of the atrocities as listed below-

(a) Brutally dishonouring women,

(b) Flaying people alive,

(c) Wholesale slaughter of men, women and children,

(d) Forcibly converting people in thousands, and murdering those who refused to be converted in utter cold blood.

(e) Throwing half-dead people into wells, and leaving the victims for hours, to struggle till finally released from their sufferings by death.

(f) Burning a great many and looting practically all Hindu and Christian houses, in the disturbed area, in which even Mopla women and children took part, and robbing women, of even the garments on their bodies, in short reducing the whole non-Moslem population to abject destitution.

(g) Cruelly insulting the religious sentiments of the Hindus, by desecrating and destroying numerous temples, in the disturbed area, killing cows within the temple precincts, putting their entrails on the holy images and hanging the skulls on the walls and roofs.

Mr. Gopalan Nair describes in pages 53-72 of book, gory and ruthlessness of twenty eight instances of Islamic style mass murder, mass rape, plunder of Hindus and Christians including British officers.

Gandhi’s reaction (interview) on this genocide by Muslims in Moplah Tragedy, December 8, 1921, Young India , (VOL. 25: 27 OCTOBER, 1921 – 22 JANUARY, 1922 page15-16), is quoted here:

“17. How do the forcible conversions of Hindus and pillage of Hindu homes reflect upon the unity of Hindus and Mohammedans in India?

Gandhi: They have put a severe strain upon Hindu patience, but it has stood the strain and its survival proves that the unity is based on knowledge. No Mussulman approves of the Moplah fanaticism.

  1. What is the actual cause of this rupture of Hindu-Muslim unity in Malabar?

Gandhi: There is no rupture of the unity in the disturbed area. The Moplahs could not at any time have considered Hindus as their brethren. The causes of the violence are that as in the Punjab in 1919. So in Malabar now the message of non-co-operation was only vaguely delivered when its progress was arrested by the authorities. The Moplahs were never particularly friendly to the Malabar Hindus. They had looted them before. Their notions of Islam were of a very crude type. They were kept in utter darkness by the Government and neglected both by Mussulmans and Hindus. Being wild and brave but ignorant, they have mistaken the mission of the Khilafat and acted in a savage, inhuman and irreligious manner. It is quite improper to judge Islam or the Mussulmans of the rest of India by the present conduct of the Moplahs.

  1. Can you say what made you to couple the Khilafat with the Punjab wrongs?

Gandhi: The Khilafat wrong was born before the Punjab wrong, and I made it my own in the year 1918 at the Delhi War Conference (vide my open letter to the Viceroy). Non-co-operation was conceived at Delhi in 1919 before the Punjab wrong had taken definite shape. The latter was tacked to the Khilafat, when it became clear that it required as drastic a remedy as the Khilafat.

  1. Can you say why the Mohammedans of India are so demonstrative for the Khilafat, when the Mohammedans of other Islamic countries do not seem to care for it?

Gandhi: I do not know that non-Indian Mussulmans do not care for the Khilafat, but if they do not and the Indian Mussulmans do, for me it is proof enough that the latter have developed greater religious consciousness than the former.”

So here is Gandhi, no Mahatma, rather a wily and shrewd politician, who did not even empathise with Hindus and Christians killed in Riots. He bluntly claimed they were themselves responsible for this genocide. Gandhi also mentions that Moplah Mussulmans did not represent Islam or the Indian Mussulmans. This would sound familiar even today, as liberals and secularists of all hues always claim that Fidayeen and Jihadis do not represent peaceful nature of Islam or moderate Mussulmans.

Gandhi’s Support for Ottoman Empire and ignoring Armenian Genocide

As quoted from Armenian National Institute website

“The Ottoman state existed from 1300 to 1923, variously called Turkey or the Turkish Empire, was governed according to Islamic law which relegated non-Muslims to second class status  In a series of genocidal massacres repeated in 1895-1896, 1909, 1915-1918, and 1920-1922, the Armenian population of Turkey was annihilated.”

By supporting Khilafat movement, Gandhi and Congress supported re-establishing of Ottoman Caliphate, in spite of facts brought to his attention that Muslims around the world did not support Ottoman/Caliphate. It would be foolish to believe that Mahatma Gandhi and Congress leaders were ignorant of Armenian Genocide at hands of Ottoman rulers. They supported re-establishment of Caliphate from Indian soil in spite of having full knowledge of its past antecedents.

Gandhi’s response on Swami Shraddhanand, and other Hindu Arya Samaji murders:

On 23 December 1926, Swami Shraddhanand, was murdered by a Jihadi Muslim Abdul Rashid. Swami ji was quite a threat to Islamists as he was actively involved in re-conversion (ghar-wapasi-shuddhi) of Hindus who converted to Islam under threat of Sword in Moplah and other places.

Dr. Ambedkar lists out such murders carried out by Muslims for Jihad, in CHAPTER VII of his book PAKISTAN OR THE PARTITION OF INDIA, HINDU ALTERNATIVE TO PAKISTAN [Mr. Gandhi’s tenacious quest for Hindu-Muslim unity]. He argues that Gandhi never protested against Muslims responsible for these cold blooded murders including gruesome Moplah carnage. (Quoted below)

“Mr. Gandhi has been very punctilious in the matter of condemning any and every act of violence and has forced the Congress, much against its will to condemn it. But Mr. Gandhi has never protested against such murders. Not only have the Musalmans not condemned these outrages but even Mr. Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr. Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Moslem unity and did not mind the murders of a few Hindus, if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives.”

Dr. Ambedkar’s above observation is also substantiated in Gandhi’s condolence message delivered in Guwahati session of Congress on 25 December 1926, after Swami Shraddhanad murder. Gandhi’s message in this session is foremost proof of that he was a hypocrite who had no sympathy for murder and genocide of Hindus. (Quoted below)

“If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny. You would help in boycotting papers which foment hatred and spread misrepresentation. I am sure that India would lose nothing if 90 per cent of the papers were to cease today. . . Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji’s murder. Guilty indeed are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another. For us Hindus the Gita enjoins on us the lesson of equi-mindedness; we are to cherish the same feelings towards a learned Brahman as towards a chandala, a dog, a cow or an elephant.”

Gandhi never sought condemnation from Muslim leaders, rather he kept studied silence on heinous murders, rapes and other brutalities committed by Jihadis on both Hindu spiritual leaders and common people during his entire political life.

Gandhi’s reaction during and after Direct Action Day Massacres of Hindus.

Great Calcutta Killings started on 16 August 1946, (Also called direct action day, a seemingly secular name given by Islamists leaders of Muslim League to Islamic call for Jihad), led to at least 5,000 persons killed and more than 15,000 wounded.  This pogrom continued in various Muslims majority parts of Bengal and of rest of country including Punjab and Sindh. It reached its Moplah style culmination of brutalities in form of murder, arson, looting, rapes and conversion of Hindus in town of Noakhali, Chittagaon. Naokhali riots are well documented for direct involvement abetting by Muslim Leagues leaders including Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Prime Minister of Bengal since his call for direct action day. Historian Devendra Panigrahi, in his book India’s Partition: The Story of Imperialism in Retreat, page 300 writes

On 13 August 1946, the Muslim League mouthpiece, Star of India, gave detailed instructions to the Muslim League and Muslims in general on how to conduct themselves on 16 August, the Direct Action day. Muslims were in the middle of Ramazan fasting and Star of India reminded them of the month of real Jehad of God’s grace and blessings, and spiritual armament and moral and physical purge of the nation. . . “Muslims must remember that it was in Ramazan that the Qur’an was revealed. It was in Ramazan that the permission for jehad was granted by Allah. It was in Ramazan that the Battle of Badr, the first open conflict between Islam and Heathenism, was fought and won by 313 Muslims and again it was in Ramazan that 10,000 Muslims under the Holy Prophet conquered Mecca and established the kingdom of Heaven and the commonwealth of Islam in Arabia. The Muslim League is fortunate that it is starting its action in this holy month.”

Devendra Panigrahi concludes in page 302 of above book

The communal holocaust was a sound warning of what was likely to happen if Jinnah’s Pakistan was not granted. Although Jawaharlal Nehru bravely argued that ‘we are not going to shake hands with murderer or allow it to determine the country’s policy’, he accepted that it was a grim reality ‘that one may have to face the assassin’s knife at any time’.182 The situation had dramatically changed after these events. Lord Mountbatten observed: ‘Don’t forget Direct Action day in Calcutta which was a warning of what he [Jinnah] can do just as a demonstration and I think he has the capacity to cause civil war if we didn’t meet him half way.’ Mountbatten further remarked: ‘Jinnah . . . all he was interested in was power – and protect [sic] the Muslims.’

Another detailed article written by Jaideep Mazumdar in Swarjaya Magazine dated 16 August 2017 ‘The Butcher Of Bengal’ And His Role In Direct Action Day”  clearly mentions that Great Calcutta killings were instigated by well-educated top leaders of Muslim league as Direct Action Day, where real intent was Jihad. It was similar or larger in scope and brutalities to Moplah Riots instigated by educated Muslim leaders in the name of Khilafat movement which was actually Jihad.

History books are full of details of deliberate inaction not only of British Empire officials, who were preparing to pack their bags, but also of whole Congress leadership under Nehru and Gandhi. They did not do anything substantial except controlling retaliatory riots by Hindus in Congress ruled provinces.

Below are Details reproduced about peace mission taken by Gandhi in November 1946, full three months after Direct Action day and call for Jihad started, after much of genocide of Hindus in Muslim League governed Bengal had already completed.

Gandhi’s stay in Noakhali was resented by the Muslim leadership. On 12 February 1947, while addressing a rally at Comilla, A. K. Fazlul Huq said that Gandhi’s presence in Noakhali had harmed Islam enormously. His presence had created a bitterness between the Hindus and the Muslims. The resentment against Gandhi’s stay in Noakhali grew day by day. Towards the end of February 1947 it became vulgar. Gandhi’s route was deliberately dirtied everyday and Muslims began to boycott his meetings.

Mahatma Gandhi discontinued his mission halfway and moved to Bihar on 2 March 1947 at the request of the Muslim League leaders of Bengal. On 7th April 1947, more than a month after leaving Noakhali, Gandhi received telegrams from Congress Party workers in Noakhali, describing attempts to burn Hindus alive. He responded that the situation in Noakhali required that the Hindus should either leave or perish. A headline in New York Times carried this last observation of Mahatma Gandhi.

Various speeches and writings of Gandhi are documented in below three available sources whose dates concur with Direct Action Day and his Noakhali visit and return

  1. THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI – VOL (92): 9 AUGUST, 1946 – 6 NOVEMBER, 1946
  2. mahatma-gandhi-collected-works-volume-93 7 NOVEMBER, 1946 – 16 FEBRUARY, 1947 page54
  3. mahatma-gandhi-collected-works-volume-94: 17 FEBRUARY, 1947 – 29 APRIL, 1947

Writings on page 54 of Volume 93, clearly show that Mahatma Gandhi was fully devoted to his ill-conceived theory of one sided non-violence, and was forcing Hindus to sacrifice their life in Jihad in non-violent way by facing death bravely and not running for life from Muslim dominated area. These three volumes are full of Mahatma’s sermons to Hindus for bearing this sacrifice in Muslim majority area. He was not ready to accept that violence unleashed by Muslims was Jihad that needed to be resisted and retaliated.

It is worthwhile to mention here a particular Gandhi’s meeting with Noakhali and East Bengal refugees mentioned in collected works volume 98, Page8, where he is seen giving lofty sermons about peaceful nature of Islam to traumatized, refugee Hindus who had abandoned their homes due to Muslim League/state sponsored genocide in Muslim majority areas of Bengal :-

  1. TALK TO REFUGEES, LAKSHAM, November 7, 1946

(Note- Laksham is sub-district of Chittagong, Bangladesh)

Why should they be afraid of the cry of “Allaho Akbar”? The Allah of Islam was the protector of innocence. What had been done in East Bengal had not the sanction of Islam as preached by its Prophet. Who could dare to dishonour their wives or daughters if they had faith in God?

Clearly, Gandhi was more interested in saving the image of Islam rather than saving the hapless Hindus slaughtered and converted by jihadi mobs.

Conclusion:

Since 1920 when Gandhi took leadership of Congress, till his death in 1948, a clear contradiction can be observed between, much publicised theory of Non-Violence and his actual position on various instances of mob-violence. Directly or indirectly, he supported violence of Muslims against other faiths while preaching non-violence to victims. We may doubt and debate if Gandhi understood meaning of taqiyya and kitman. But his commentaries, observations and reactions during this period do indicate that he practiced these to perfection.

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