Amicus curiae tells SC only Godse murdered Gandhi. Will conspiracy theories end?

Those trying to prove otherwise have a long-standing project of resurrecting the ghost of Savarkar.

 |  4-minute read |   08-01-2018
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It couldn’t have been spelt out more clearly. 70 years after Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by the Hindu Mahasabha member Nathuram Godse, the “probe” into the Gandhi murder files was “re-opened”, in an extraordinary display of judiciary taking its course.

That probe by amicus curiae (friend of the court) Amrendra Sharan has led to the clinching conclusion – once again, in fact – that no one but Nathuram Godse, aided by accomplice Narayan Apte, killed Gandhi, by firing three bullets at the Mahatma from point-blank range.

A report in The Times of India says that senior advocate Amrendra Sharan told the Supreme Court that allegation regarding involvement of foreign intelligence agency, the so-called “Force 136”, in the Gandhi assassination was baseless.

The PIL filed by Pankaj Phadnis, co-founder of Abhinav Bharat, a hardline Hindutva group formed in the line of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s own Abhinav Bharat, a youth group, was admitted in the SC in October 2017, and a probe was ordered by the court-appointed amicus curiae.

That the SC heard the plea seeking “reinvestigation” into the daylight murder of Mahatma Gandhi is itself one of a kind. Still, the Amrendra Sharan find, duly submitted with the SC, is completely in sync with both the findings from the trial of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, both of whom were hanged for the crime, as well as the Justice Kapur report of 1969, which not only corroborated Godse’s role in Gandhi’s murder, but also found solid evidence of VD Savarkar's involvement, in fact his masterminding, of Gandhi’s assassination.

godse_010818105027.jpgPhoto: DailyO

In fact, Pankaj Phadnis had filed his PIL seeking re-probe alleging that the blame on Savarkar was misplaced, and had no legal standing. It must be noted that Phadnis’ political leanings, his founding membership of Abhinav Bharat, the rightwing militant Hindutva outfit, against which allegations of terrorism have been levelled and trials of members like Lt Col Shrikant Purohit are ongoing, have as much to do with the larger, Sangh Parivar-driven political project of resurrecting the ghost of Savarkar.

Amicus curiae Amrendra Sharan not only scanned the 4000-page trial court records from 1948, but also the Justice JL Kapur Inquiry Commission report of 1969, in order to excavate any hidden details not caught by the previous inquiries into Gandhi’s death. Once again, all facts pointed to not only Godse’s direct role in assassinating Gandhi, but his meetings with Savarkar in January 1948, building up to the murder on January 30, 1948 by firing three bullets into Gandhi’s chest and abdomen.

Ironically, the man most convinced of Savarkar’s role in murdering Gandhi was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister, whom the BJP and the Sangh are busy appropriating. Patel not only banned the RSS in 1949 in response to Gandhi’s murder, he was also acutely aware of Savarkar getting away because of circumstantial evidence, which nevertheless all pointed towards collaboration. Author and historian AG Noorani has written at length on the “Godse connection”between Savarkar and Gandhi’s death, as have other writers and chroniclers of those turbulent times.

Amrendra Sharan’s findings should put an end to the cottage industry of conspiracy theories finding foreign angles in a daylight political murder, the foundational violence of postcolonial India. But most likely, that’s not going to be the case. Even as the Supreme Court announces its verdict upon reading the Sharan report, the WhatsApp warriors of Hindutva are not going to rest awhile, or waste their time picking up an actual book and reading about Indian history.

In fact, we are likely going to see BJP leaders and spokespersons adulating Nathuram Godse, like they have done before. That even PM Narendra Modi follows abusive trolls on Twitter, many of whom are self-proclaimed “Godse fanboys”, and the clarion calls to erect statues of “patriot Godse” are being heard from a number of quarters in 21st century India, are all indicators of an immense and concerted attempt to revise history in the terms that Sangh Parivar deems fit, whether the reconfigured past has any truth in it, or not.

Also read: What Adityanath sparring with CM Siddaramaiah means for upcoming Karnataka Assembly polls

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