The Supreme Court recently took up a PIL challenging a statement made by Rahul Gandhi alleging that the RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi. (Rahul Gandhi has amended his statement to avoid a prolonged trial, and the RSS has demanded an apology). With due respect, I think the Court erred in admitting this PIL. Was it a cognisable offence for Mr Modi in 2014 to have held the Congress responsible for the partition of India? Historical debates are not matters for courts to decide. Nor is the so-called Sangh Parivar facing a criminal trial. The trial is taking place in the minds of the people of India - and the world. We will never have forensic evidence of such crimes. Hitler never left a paper trail for the holocaust but is there any doubt as to his responsibility for it? These matters must be left to public debate. Some may prefer to make sweeping accusations; but thoughtful persons need to reflect on the likelihood of these accusations. We can weigh the circumstantial evidence, and come to our own conclusions, but historical debates cannot be adjudicated in court.
कुमार प्रशांत - तो राष्ट्रीय स्वंयसेवक संघ ने एक बार फिर गांधी से दो-दो हाथ करने का मन बनाया है
Is our memory so short that we have forgotten how its votaries were speaking just 2 years ago? In 2014, many members of the Hindutva family (some in the BJP/ RSS) in sheer joy at the BJP's electoral victory let the cat out of the bag by deifying Godse. In fact its Kerala mouthpiece carried an article wishing that Godse had killed Nehru. Here are some of their statements:
As for their attitude towards historical truth, here are details regarding the Parivars attempt to censor Gandhi's collected works under the the first NDA government (1998): Brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of deletions and changes were noticed by scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed them as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud, director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA that the fraudulently 'revised' edition was withdrawn, in 2005.
Historians are not judges in a court of law. Nor is the so-called Sangh Parivar on trial, save in the minds of the people of India - and the world, for that matter, because Gandhi remains a popular figure the world over. (A BBC poll in 2000 put Gandhi at the most popular man in the millenium - not once but twice, and that too before Leonardo da Vinci and Jesus Christ). Its a battle of the spirit that is unfolding. The courts are not the proper place for these issues. They should be left to public debate, as should the historical assessment of say, the partition of Palestine; Irish republicanism, the Stalinist era; or the policies of Mao Zedong.
Criminal deeds are not planned nor minuted in formal meetings - the very idea of committing a crime entails (most of the time) a desire to get away with it. Since the RSS is not under trial, and we have no way of either punishing the organisation (if it were to be found guilty) nor compensating it for the bad press they have received (if it was not), we are left with historical judgement, that is all. Such judgements can serve only the purpose of sharpening public awareness. People are free to debate, criticise and reject them. It all depends on memory, available evidence and methods of reasoning.
It will never be settled in court.
Three weeks after this sinister meeting, there took place the January 20 Gandhi murder attempt.
And ten days after that, Gandhi was dead.
The fluctuating positions of the Sangh on the Mahatma appear to be tactical. The impression left by their utterances is always (to me at any rate), that of persons who cannot distinguish cunning and cleverness from truthfulness and wisdom. They never seem to understand that Akhand Hindustan and Hindu Rashtra are incompatible ideals, that the achievement of the one automatically rules out the attainment of the other. Gandhi knew this instinctively. Speaking about those who combined communal hatred with slogans of Akhand Hindustan, he remarked: ‘There is nothing in common between me and those who want me to oppose
I am reminded of an insight of the German philosopher Karl Jaspers: "Truth - the word has an incomparable magic. It seems to promise what really matters to us. The violation of truth poisons everything gained by the violation." The longer Indians chose to play with the truth about the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, the longer will we be allowing the poison of communal hatred to do its work.
For more facts and opinions on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, see:
The Abolition of truth
RSS tradition of manufacturing facts to suit their ideology
सत्य की हत्या