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Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination, compiled and introduced by Teesta Setalvad

Book Reviews

Tuesday 17 March 2015, by siawi3


Tushar Gandhi rues loss of cultural values
Omar Rashid, MUMBAI, March 17, 2015

“Mahatma Gandhi cannot be spoon-fed. It’s the failure of the youth if they have not learnt about him. It’s not his fault that the youth is falling for the RSS ideology. There has to be a particular mindset to worship murderers [Godse],” Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of the Mahatma, said here on Monday.
He was responding to a question on whether the Mahatma could have been represented in a more dynamic manner to the youth susceptible to right-wing ideologies. When there was talk of a Godse temple, “we must question where our culture is heading for,” he said, releasing ‘Beyond Doubt,’ a new dossier on the assassination of the Mahatma.
The dossier, published by social activist Teesta Setalvad, looks at the RSS’ role in the murder.

‘Planned event’

“The dossier proves beyond doubt the role of the RSS in the murder,” she said. Mahatma Gandhi’s murder was not a spontaneous incident, stemming from the opposition to the division of the country, but a planned event dating back to his role in the discourse in the national movement in 1934, she said. The dossier contains the RTI applications to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the alleged destruction of 11,000 documents on the assassination.


Book offers new theory on Godse
TNN | Mar 17, 2015, 12.47 AM IST

MUMBAI: Over the last year, voices in praise of Nathuram Godse—Mahatma Gandhi’s killer—have grown louder and clearer. But who was Godse? On whose instructions was he acting? These are some of the questions that a new book compiled by activist Teesta Setalvad attempts to answer. Beyond Doubt - A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination, was launched on Monday at the Mumbai Press Club. 

The book rubbishes the claim that Gandhi was killed for partitioning India’s wealth with Pakistan, and looks at several attempts on his life well before any talk of giving wealth to Pakistan. Setalvad says Gandhi was killed for his values. “He drew his values from Hinduism but stood for separation of religion from the state,” says Setalvad, adding that his views on territorial nationalism were abhorrent to his killers. Setalvad says those related to Gandhi’s assassination may well have been destroyed. All attempts at gleaning information about these files via the RTI have been stone-walled, she added.

Hille Le News, Views, Videos not seen on TV

Gandhi wasn’t murdered for the money given to Pakistan. There were 5 attempts before

Rukmini Sen
The Feminist March 17, 2015

On the 16th of March, Monday Hansal Mehta, Tushar Gandhi and Kumar Ketkar came together in support of Teesta Setalvad’s book Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assasination.

Teesta Setalvad in her short address to the guests and the Press on this occassion said-
“Gandhi’s assassination was not a spontaneous act. There were five murder attempts made before Gandhi was actually killed. Godse was involved in two of the previous attempts. RSS’s visceral hatred towards Gandhi was because of his commitment to composite nationalism and his position on untouchability”.

Godse in characteristic RSS style lied blatantly when he claimed he killed Gandhi for the issue of Partition or the transfer of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan. Setalvad writes in the introduction of the Dossier- “The attempts on Gandhi’s life that began in 1934 were a response to the dominant political articulations of nationhood, caste, and economic and other democratic rights which directly challenged the idea of a hegemonistic and authoritarian Hindu Rashtra. In 1933, a year before the first attempt on his life, Gandhi had declared firm support to two Bills, one of which was against the abhorrent practice of untouchability.” RSS in its vicious propaganda never dares to mention the same she said. In her introduction to the Dossier on Gandhi’s assasination Teesta Setalvad continues-
“The run up to Independence and, unfortunately, Partition, was the arena or battleground for fundamentally opposing notions of nationhood.While over a hundred years of sustained movements and mobilizations to throw off the British yoke came together in the united battle of all Indians against foreign rule, the early to mid-1900s saw the emergence of sectarian and communal definitions of Indian and Pakistani nationhood. With the birth of the Hindu Mahasabha, the Muslim league and the RSS, these movements – which on different occasions actually collaborated with the British – were in constant battle with the larger national movement. This volume also contains valuable references to how and when these right-wing protagonists collaborated with the colonial rulers. Parallel to Gandhi’s clear articulations about India as a secular state from the early 1930s, there was also the emergence of clear positions among the national leadership on the caste question as well as on the issue of the economic rights of large sections of Indians. Repeated use of the term ‘secular’ appears quite early in Gandhi’s writings and speeches of 1933.
A comprehensive understanding of the political context around this period of time is critical to locate the motivations that led to the systematically planned attempts on his life. As mentioned above, two proposed laws were before the Central legislature at the time, and one of these related to untouchability. Though much reviled in public discourse for his compromises on the caste question, Gandhi was clear that a ‘custom that is repugnant to the moral sense of mankind’ should be outlawed by a secular law. Such a practice, he said on 6 May 1933, ‘cannot and ought not to have the sanction of the law of a secular state’. In November 1933, he defended the Bill against the charge that it was an undue interference in religion, saying that there were many situations in which it was necessary for the state to interfere even with religion; only ‘undue’ interference ought to be avoided. In 1934, a year after his speech in support of the law against untouch-ability in the Central legislature, the first attempt on Gandhi’s life was made. At the time there was obviously no question of the grouse against him being the issue of Partition or the transfer of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan. It was the fact that Gandhi was a vocal proponent of India as a secular state, and, moreover, that he was at the forefront in striving for legal mechanisms to abolish discriminations based on religion, that made him unpopular among Hindutva fanatics.”

Teesta Setalvad’s introduction talks about the differences between Ambedkar and Gandhi-
“In 1925, Gandhi offered unqualified support to the Vykom Satyagraha, launched by the local leaders of Travancore (in present-day Kerala) who were protesting the ban on the entry of ‘untouchables’ on roads surrounding the Vykom temples. Through Young India Gandhi carried the message of the struggle of the satyagrahis to the rest of India until, finally, the matter began to be addressed by the national press. In March 1925 he went to Vykom and addressed public meetings there, besides holding discussions with leaders of the orthodoxy who were opposing the campaign. Finally, in January 1926, the Travancore government had to yield to the satyagrahis and announced the opening of roads around temples in Vykom to the ‘untouchables’. Gan-dhi pushed further, insisting that all public institutions, including temples, be opened to all. A few years later, on 20 September 1932, he undertook a fast unto death to implement the Communal Award. The Poona or Yervada Pact which came in its aftermath also gave a huge impetus to the movement for justice to the ‘untouchables’.

Diffferences between Ambedkar and Gandhi on this issue have been widely documented and analysed. Ambedkar’s valid criticism of the goals and priorities of the All India Untouchability league (later re-named the Harijan Sevak Sangh), which he thought were individualistic and reform-driven and not aimed at the political and social emancipation of all Dalits, can be seen, among other places, in the correspondence between the two great leaders and thinkers. Even on the two Bills that came before the Central legislature in 1933, Ambedkar and Gandhi had detailed discussions, as well as differences.

The point, however, remains. Gandhi, who drew his moral force from his religion and wished to fundamentally reform and alter its approach to the structured inequity and indignity of caste, posed a great threat to those who would rather speak in the name of the Hindu faith, i.e. the fanatical fringe.”
Senior Journalist Kumar Ketkar observed that “RSS is not an organization anymore. It is an ideology that is present in all sections of the society and across all political parties.”

Kumar Ketkar added that Modi’s victory was ten percent because of Development propaganda but mostly because of 2002 Gujrat. According to the Seniior Journalist RSS has managed to penetrate into some sections of Bengal also. While they may not emerge as the biggest party in West Bengal in next elections they may loom up menacingly as the second most important party, he said.
Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi pointed out that “Teesta Setalvad’s forthcoming book which would include Kapur Commission report will be an important book to watch out for. Kapoor Commision Report has more evidence on the buildup to the assassination than the evidence that was available during the trial.”
In the 60s when some of the convicts of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination case came out after serving their term the conspirators talked openly about the details of the conspiracy leading to the assassination. It is then that the Central Government set up Kapur Commission to further look into the details of the conspiracy.

Hansal Mehta, the Director of City-Lights and Shahid welcomed Teesta Setalvad’s book Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination and stated in no uncertain terms that he was there to support Setalwad’s relentless work on secularism. He stated that the fabricated History of the Hindutva Brigade will destroy India. Hansal articulated strongly that he is an observer of the present day hate-mongering.
The program on Gandhi’s Assassination started with remembering Comrade Pansare and Gandhian leader Narayanbhai Desai. It was followed by a beautiful rendition of Vaishnava Jana Te by Sufi singer Ragini Rainu.

In her introduction in BEYOND DOUBT: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination Teesta Setalvad writes-

“The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 was a declaration of war and a statement of intent. For the forces who conspired in the killing, the act was a declaration of war against the secular, democratic Indian state and all those who stood to affirm these principles, as well as an announcement of a lasting commitment to India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. It was also an act to signal the elimination of all that India’s national movement against imperialism stood for. Beyond Doubt is a dossier of historical and critical documents that aims to contextualize the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Attempts to legitimize the act of killing and to celebrate the killers have re-doubled since May 2014, following the coming to power of the new regime in New Delhi. The time is right, therefore, to set the record straight.

The visceral hatred directed against Gandhi and the denigration of everything he stood for need to be recounted if we are to understand the political nature of that dastardly act. This book attempts to weave together archival documents from Government of India records relating to developments after the assassination, with translation of works in Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi de-constructing the ideology responsible for the political killing. While several of the documents have appeared before in issues of Communalism Combat, this compilation presents new material on the subject. The first English translation of Jagan Phadnis’s book, Mahatmyache Akher, forms part of the dossier, as do Y.D. Phadke’s analysis of attempts to legitimize Gandhi’s killing and Chunibhai Vaidya’s analysis of Pradeep Dalvi’s play on Godse. It also covers the recent controversy over the destruction of files relating to Gandhi’s assassination by Government of India.”

RSS is actively running political parties: Kumar Ketkar

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
By Aroosa Ahmed

RSS is actively running political parties says veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar during the release of the book, ‘Beyond Doubt : A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination’ compiled and introduced by Teesta Setalvad

At the release of the book, ’Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination’ compiled and introduced by Teesta Setalvad on Monday, Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor of Dainik Divya Marathi, said, “The book is also a documentation about the nature and function of the RSS. RSS has always said that it is a cultural organisation and does not get involved in politics. This is false as they are actively running the political parties. Communal polarization has begun to take place only after their formation. RSS is a kind of a mindset which is there among people in different section of society, from the police, bureaucrats, media personnel and so on. It is indeed a very dangerous fact that the government is working on creating a new history which would further polarize the people. Calling India secular will just remain on paper in a matter of few years.”

Teesta Setalvad, journalist and author of the book said, “I dedicate this book to the time we are living in. What worries me is that we are completely disregarding history. An RTI revealed that after this government came into power, more than 11,000 documents were destroyed for reasons which were never disclosed. This is the kind of democracy we live in. I wonder what will happen to this country where the Prime Minister works on Eid and Christmas will not be an holiday. The Goa Government had ordered to remove 2nd October, Gandhiji’s birthday as a National holiday and later with interventions took back the order. Are we moving towards a Hindu Rashtriya ? And will the secular democracy get over?”

Hansal Mehta, a national film award director of the movie Shahid said, “My seven year old daughter came running to me. She was very panicky. When I asked her what happened she said, daddy lets run! Muslims are coming. We are living in a dangerous time where people are constantly trying to fuel fear into us regarding a particular community. Earlier, in the garb of Gandhi’s name hypocrisy was carried out. Now we are living in a very destructive time under the name of development.” 

The book focuses on the historical and critical documents that aims to contextualize the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Attempts to legitimize the act of killing and to celebrate the killers have re-doubled since May 2014. This book attempts to weave together archival documents from Government of India records relating to developments after the assassination, with translation of works in Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi de-constructing the ideology responsible for the political killing.



Resurrecting Godse: what Gopal had to say about his brother Nathuram
An excerpt from a dossier, compiled by Teesta Setalvad, of historical and critical documents that aim to contextualise the politics, motivations and circumstances behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Arvind Rajagopal Today · 08:00 am
On 21 November, BJP president LK Advani issued a statement denying that his party had anything to do with the recent attempts to glorify Nathuram. “Nathuram Godse was a bitter critic of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”, he said. “His charge was that the RSS had made Hindus impotent. We have had nothing to do with Godse. The Congress is in the habit of reviving this allegation against us when it finds nothing else.” (The Times of India, 22 November 1993).

In fact, Nathuram Godse was a life-long member of the RSS, attaining the position of baudhik karyavah (intellectual worker).

His statement at the murder trial (originally published in 1977, in a volume entitled May It Please Your Honour) says, “I am one of those volunteers who joined the Sangha in its initial stage’ (p. 142). He says he left it to do more directly political work in the Hindu Mahasabha (he does not say when). But his brother Gopal Godse suggests that he never really left the RSS, and that the statement at his trial was meant to alleviate the pressure on the Sangh, which was banned following Gandhiji’s murder. A leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, went on to found the Jana Sangh, forerunner of the BJP.

Mere membership does not, of course, mean responsibility: the BJP does not necessarily have to answer for the actions of each person ever associated with the Sangh Parivar.

But in this case, the chickens have come home to roost. Gopal Godse reacts to Advani’s statement angrily and calls it the response of a coward. The politics of swayamsevaks like the Godses does not differ too greatly from that of the RSS and the BJP today. The BJP’s campaign slogan in the recent elections, “Hum ne jo kaha, so kiye” (What we said, we did), boasting of an event that consumed thousands of lives, denotes an implacability of resolve at least equal to Nathuram’s.

Meeting Gopal Godse himself is helpful in uncovering any affinities that might exist between his politics and that of the Sangh Parivar. He lives in the heart of old Pune, in Sadashiv Peth, in a new apartment building called Vinayak. His flat shares a landing with a bank, and, in that busy space, it is startling to see the names in Devanagari script in prominent red on the door: “Shri Gopal Godse. Sow. Sunita Godse.”

He opens the door. Gandhiji’s murderer, you think, but there he is, a tall, slightly bent man in pyjamas and an old yellow sleeveless sweater.

You scan his appearance for signs of what might make him different. But, as in most scandals, one experiences the shock of banality on meeting its perpetrator. He looks, for all purposes, like any other Chitpavan Brahmin one sees in Sadashiv Peth – a frail old man, albeit with hooded eyes. He remains proud of his Chitpavan heritage. He smiles slightly and lowers his gaze – the half-conscious reaction, perhaps, to a lifetime of notoriety.

A large glass case dominates the drawing room decorations. It con- tains a small silver urn surrounded by photographs. In the urn are the ashes of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte. The pictures are of them and of V.D. Savarkar. Just below the case is a porcelain plate with Savarkar’s portrait. His motto, ‘Hinduise all politics and militarise Hindudom’, encircles the picture. Although ‘honourably acquitted’ of conspiring to kill Gandhi, Savarkar was nevertheless a close associate of Nathuram Godse. Gopal Godse’s daughter, Asilata, has married Ashok Savarkar, son of Savarkar’s younger brother Narayan. Both families are still close to the Hindu Mahasabha (the party Nathuram belonged to and Savarkar was president of for several years); Gopal Godse was until recently its general secretary.

He is eager to talk. ‘Greedy to spread his message’, as he puts it – to justify his brother’s act, and to propagate the concept of Hindu Rashtra which, he feels, is the only answer to the country’s political problems.

He is polite and courteous; though his views may be offensive in the extreme, he tries not to let his manners impede the reception of his ideas. It is hard for most people to conceive of Gandhiji’s killers as other than demented or demonic. This is obviously a matter very much on his own mind. He is constrained to refute the myth that Nathuram was a madman or a fanatic. ‘You may disagree with his views, but you must first consider his arguments’, Gopal says.

He rejects all existing political parties except the Hindu Mahasabha. Every other party, he says, is guilty of pandering to the Muslims and conse- quently endangering the nation. Similar criticisms of the BJP, however, are made by several within the RSS itself. Godse’s views themselves have much in common with those of the BJP. India is nothing if not Hindu – this is the theme he tirelessly stresses, in one variation after another. Muslims do not have their original place of worship within this country, and it is essential, in his view (derived from Savarkar), that one’s place of birth is also one’s holy land. Muslims can be loyal only to Pakistan; every Muslim in India is a Pakistani agent, he says.

…Godse’s ideas are in a continuum with Hindu right-wing thought today.

If you turn to MS Golwalkar, the RSS leader, the confirmation of a continuity with Godse’s views is even more emphatic:
When we say ‘This is the Hindu Nation’, there are some who immediately come up with the question, ‘What about the Muslims and Christians. . .?’ They are born in this land, no doubt. But are they true to their salt? . . . Do they feel a duty to serve her? No! . . . They look to some foreign lands as their holy places. . . . They have cut off their ancestral moorings of this land (sic) and mentally merged themselves with the aggressors. They still think that they have come here only to conquer and establish their kingdoms. So we see that it is not merely a case of change of faith, but a change even in national identity. What else is it, if not treason, to join the camp of the enemy leaving their mother-nation in the lurch? (Bunch of Thoughts, pp. 166–67) Every Muslim, for Golwalkar as for Godse, is a foreign agent with little to do but engage in anti-national activities, usually of a violent kind:
The Muslims are busy hatching a dangerous plot, piling up arms and mobi- lizing their men and probably biding their time to strike from within when Pakistan decides upon an armed conflict with our country. . . . Not that our leaders do not know it. The secret intelligence reports reach them all right. But it seems they have in view only elections. Elections means vote-catching, which means appeasing certain sections. . . . And the Muslims are one such solid bloc. Therein lies the root of all this appeasement and consequent disastrous effects. (Bunch of Thoughts, pp. 239–40).

Compare this with Gopal Godse:
They make bomb blasts in Bombay in the name of the Koran. They will continue because the Koran is very clear. They want to Islamize their complete world. And the secularism is the most fertile ground for them to do it. . . . Outside, what happens today, for Haj, a Muslim who is a smuggler goes there. And a Pakistani minister goes there. They join there together under the name of Islam. They dictate what is to be done in India. . . . So all con- spiracies go on in the name of Islam. And we allow it. (Personal interview)

The true Hindu patriot has two enemies: the Muslim and the ‘secular’ (nowadays pseudo-secular) government. The Muslim’s danger is well known and unambivalent, whereas that of the secularists is much less so. Parading itself as tolerant and pluralistic, the secular government is actually calculating and selfish, and will lead the nation to disaster. Only in Hindutva is such narrow selfishness overcome, as individual identity merges with the nation. In these ideas, Godse and the RSS “guru”, Golwalkar, are unanimous.

It must be conceded that the BJP and the RSS are more sensitive to public opinion, to the practicality of actually getting something done, as opposed to landing up behind bars or in the gallows after having made a ‘statement’ of some kind.

Especially with the BJP, a party primarily seeking power, the ideas its leaders express are often serviceable means to an end rather than deep convictions. In this respect, the saying goes, BJP minus RSS equals Congress (a witticism that says as much about the Congress as about the BJP). It is the RSS which is the backbone of the Hindutva party and which makes the BJP different from other parties.

The habit of seeing dangerous conspiracies everywhere, of calling for rooting out a scourge that threatens the nation, is itself sign of a paranoid mentality that in the US, for instance, was called McCarthyism. Perhaps we should cease calling a paranoid and violent politics by its own preferred name of ‘Hindutva’, and thereby deny it any respectable cover. Advani’s disavowal of Nathuram Godse’s connection with the RSS flies in the face of the well-documented connections between them and the essential similarity of their ideas, as suggested by Nathuram’s published statements, as well as Gopal Godse’s own words. The Janata Dal slogan against the BJP in the recent elec- tions summed it up: “Muh me Ram aur dil me Nathuram” (Ram on their lips and Nathuram in their hearts).

(First published in Frontline, 28 January 1994.)

Excerpted with permission from Beyond Doubt: A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination, compiled and introduced by Teesta Setalvad, Tulika Books.